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Austin Cline

Can Public Schools Have Special Programs for Religious Holidays?

By December 2, 2012

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Aside from closing entirely, schools have also celebrated religious holidays by holding special programs -- these can take the form of special classes which teach about the holiday, plays and musicals related to the holiday, and (most commonly) musical programs. There are few public schools in America which have not had Christmas holiday programs involving the school band and school choir performing Christmas music for the community (or at least the student body).

 

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Comments
December 20, 2007 at 4:51 pm
(1) CrypticLife says:

A lot of teachers plan in-class showings or readings of “Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Polar Express”, and some give away bells with “Believe” imprinted on them. Sure, blind belief is such a wonderful virtue. I love to imagine what they’d say to a showing in school of “The Golden Compass”.

December 20, 2007 at 4:59 pm
(2) Eric says:

I think some holiday religious programs, properly administered can serve an invaluable cultural educational function. When I was in first grade, the mother of one of my Jewish classmates came to visit our class to talk about Hanukkah. She explained the significance of the holiday, its history, and the customs involved in celebrating it. She also passed out plastic dreidels and chocolate money which made for a nice fun activity after the talk. It was enjoyable, educational, and completely non-devotional. It was also the first time I had any exposure to any religious perspective other than Catholicism. It told me early on that there were perspectives other than my own and that nice, normal people believed in them. Who knows, it may have even planted the seeds of skepticism and cultural sensitivity that I’d like to think are part of who I am today. In any case, I think it’s a great example of how you can teach about religion without teaching religion.

December 2, 2012 at 8:07 pm
(3) Jockaira says:

I’m heartily in agreement with Eric, especially about “…perspectives other than my own and that nice, normal people believed in them”. The teaching of other perspectives during holiday seasons is also an excellent and appropriate opportunity to teach students about the moral obligations of government to keep its distance from religion and treat everyone and their beliefs in an even-handed fashion, just like it says in our Pledge of Allegiance:

“…One Nation, Indivisible, With Liberty and Justice for All”

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