The Instigator
Middle_Man
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
incredulous1972
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Should public high schools teach a mandatory Theology class?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/14/2013 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,341 times Debate No: 38857
Debate Rounds (5)
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Middle_Man

Pro

Theology is needed in schools to teach tolerance of other people. Commonly schools lack a teaching of other people. We more commonly learn what effects history has had on US and how this section of science will benefit or hurt US. Schools embrace the "US" concept in favor of having more relatable content for their otherwise uninterested students. Schools should continue to teach the "US" concept but to counter balance the ignorance of others that "US" breeds, schools should also mandate Theology.
A high school theology class teach 1 religion every quarter. (or 2 per semester , and 4 per year) The only way to appropriately teach theology would be 2 mandatory years or 8 total religions. These religions should encompass both current and historical religions. From the Aztec, Egyptian, and Pagan religions to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity to the eastern religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.
This class should be taught with the understanding that no two religions are the same but no one religion is superior. After all the point of the class is tolerance not supremacy.
The hope of this course would be to influence the next generation of leaders to be tolerant and understanding of other peoples beliefs. Whether that belief is about abortion, gay marriage, states rights, or universal health care; a better understanding of each other should make for more progress and compromise than we have today.
incredulous1972

Con

I have taken the CON side of this debate, and therefore will argue against theology classes of any kind in public schools. Pro has mentioned the possible scenario of ultimately teaching a tolerant and moderate type of theology based on the idea that several different religions would be taught to students. I hope to show to our voters that this is not practical, and even unlawful in our current legal system.

Historically, up until the early 1960's many of America's (i.e. USA's) schools have, in fact, had religious practices (School Dist. Of Abington Township v. Schempp; West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette). There were state-wide mandatory prayers for every child in many bible-belt states; Prayers which were often hand-picked by designated elected state officials, which were read out loud by every school principal during morning home-room periods. This isn't a secret, and was only halted after several lawsuits made it clear that this type of "inclusion" of religious practices did the exact opposite of what my opponent appears to favor: It separated children into casts of those that followed the prayers vs. those that didn't, or Christians vs. Non-christians. The current interpretation of "separation of church and state" clause in our Constitution clearly denies any type of religious endorsement by our government, which includes any type of religious affiliation other than those deemed "non-affiliated" and "non-discriminatory" in terms of how they perceive religious affiliation of their employees, consumers, and members. This simply means that the US Government is free to use tax dollars on religious groups, as long as their activities with this money don't violate the constitution and make no attempts to ONLY serve their own religious group.

Today, there are at least 38,000 separate religious entities that apply to the IRS for non-profit status every single year (38,000 physical locations, with over 400,000 NGO "religious" status organizations listed by the IRS). Each one has a different spin on religion - the vast majority are Christian. Not a single church is in charge, nor is there a single church with a clear majority. In some neighborhoods of the United States, there are literally more church buildings than any other kind of structure other than homes. Even in the darkest, most unpopulated areas of the United States can we find religious buildings, various religious membership, and libraries full of religious texts.

Or in other words: We already have a tremendous amount of religious representation outside of schools, and some of them already receive government tax dollars to perform some of their functions (soup kitchens, for example), not to mention that they ALL receive tax-free status.

My next point will take the voter a little to the right: Currently, the only group that is attempting to inject religious practices into schools are Creationists. That's right - the same group that denies the existence of evolution and observable phenomena like the age of our universe is also trying to get into our kids' heads by teaching them Christian fundamentalism. So in between not teaching them relevant physics, biology, cosmology, earth science, and that little thing we call "critical thinking", we're also going to teach them "belief in the inerrancy of the bible in spite of 200+ years of scientific progress, including every discipline of science and history" - believe it or not, this is paraphrased from the mission statement of the "Discovery Institute", although I could have just as easily lifted this from any other creationist organization's website. This should worry you, not only because it sounds just like the Christian version of a Muslim fundamentalist school's motto, but because the Creationist movement is slowly injecting itself into all kinds of facets of our lives: There currently are three creationists on the Texas board of education, currently picking out which parts of science to keep in their text books, and let's not mention the debacle during our presidential debates last year when four of our Republican presidential candidates openly raised their hands when asked "Who here has a problem with evolution and believes in the word-for-word version of the bible instead?". And yes, our final Republican candidate (Romney), was one of them.

Lastly, let's speak about schools: Currently, the cost of educating our kids is nearing $20k per year, per student in the Northeast and Southwest. In the country as a whole, the average is hovering near $13k per student per year. Adding new teachers to each and every school, for each and every school year, will burden the school districts with additional costs which will very quickly be added to our school taxes. This during a time when High School graduation rates are just now slowly starting to increase again, during a time when our average High School graduate is not prepared for first-year college classes (most college students no longer graduate in four years, and an increasing percentage is not graduating at all). My opponent has one of two choices: Either eliminate some other program (and a full class hour according to his "schedule", at that) which currently takes up a full class-hour (like Math, English, Foreign Language, or Science), or add an additional class hour to their schedule. Either option comes with a terrible price: Either drop some much-needed course work for their entire High School experience, or pay more tax dollars to expand their curriculum some more.

In my experience, this is a terrible idea - not just in terms of cost but also in terms of actual curriculum. Imagine the credentials that this "teacher" would have to have? Did they spend any time in business, in science, etc? Or did they get their degree from a religious school, which such arbitrary titles as "Doctor of Ministry"? Imagine trying to find thousands of religious teachers that are unbiased in their own religion that have to teach as many as 15 other religions (16 in total) to kids whose parent are certainly not as unbiased! How would you like to be the parent of child when they come home with "Muslim" homework and "santanism" prayers? How would you like it if you WERE a Muslim father or a Satanist mother and your kid came home with gospel passages? Remember those 38,000 different churches above?

There is a good reason why religious freedom necessarily is not just freedom from other religions, but freedom from ALL religions, including your own. There is simply no way to reconcile all the various factions - how would one even figure out what religions to teach? Just the "Christian" chapter would have to be broken down into hundreds of separate topics - from Greek Orthodox to Born-Again Episcopal and so forth....plus the 37,998 other ones?

In the end, religious study will not lead to a better understanding of tolerance. While I admire my opponents goals, I have come to the belief that religion is often the very root cause of intolerance. Look at the very issues my esteemed opponent mentioned: Abortion and gay rights, for example. Both of these are clearly religious issues, and only fought by the religious right. Atheists don't line the streets with banners fighting against equal opportunity; They don't take up pages of anti-suffrage women's rights history books, or pro-slavery debates. All these are found squarely in the views of fervent believers.

For these reasons alone, and more to follow, I can clearly state that my opponents idea, while a noble concept, is theoretically and demonstrably a terribly one. It is against our Constitution as proven time and again in court, it is not in favor of our kids' education, it is not in favor of our taxes, and it certainly has never worked out historically. It is a devastatingly bad idea from every angle.
Debate Round No. 1
Middle_Man

Pro

Middle_Man forfeited this round.
incredulous1972

Con

Sadly, my opponent appears to have forfeited this round. My previous statements stand....uncontested.
Debate Round No. 2
Middle_Man

Pro

Middle_Man forfeited this round.
incredulous1972

Con

This appears to be a very one-sided argument?
Debate Round No. 3
Middle_Man

Pro

Middle_Man forfeited this round.
incredulous1972

Con

....how tedious. At some point Debate.org should allow me to shortcut this debate and just finish this already.
Debate Round No. 4
Middle_Man

Pro

Middle_Man forfeited this round.
incredulous1972

Con

Based simply on the forfeits of my opponent I should win this debate. Thank you for reading our "debate", dear reader, and I profusely apologize for my opponent's inability to "stay awake at the wheel".

Debate Round No. 5
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