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Do parents have the right to keep their kids from certain rituals or subjects due to religious beliefs?

Posted by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:09 AM
  • 78 Replies

Teacher Forces Student to Recite the 'Pledge of Allegiance' Even Though It's Against His Religion

by Lisa Fogarty

A teacher in Florida was suspended without pay after grabbing a fourth grade boy's hand, placing it over his heart, and forcing him to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. No one flinched when this happened in my Catholic grade school, but the problem in this case is that she taught at a public school and the boy is a Jehovah's Witness. The child, who respectfully stood up with the rest of his classmates, explained to his teacher that his faith prevents him from worshipping objects, but she reportedly insisted that he was an American and expected to salute the flag. 

I was born and raised in America, am proud to be American, and have no issues with the word "God" or the fact that it was added to the Pledge in 1954 and, like it or not, has taken on a message that is as religious as it is patriotic. But, from a parent's point of view, public schools do not have the right to impose values that contradict my family's religious beliefs. Plain and simple. 

I am open to the possibility that this teacher wasn't fully aware of her student's religious beliefs. Public school teachers, especially those in urban areas, are exposed to children from a variety of religious backgrounds and it's irrational to expect them to have a solid understanding of every one of them. As a parent, I would have met with this teacher early on in the year to explain that certain celebrations or school rituals were against our family's faith

But let's assume that happened. From that point on, the student's right to not say the Pledge, but to either sit or stand respectfully while others practiced their right to say it, is perfectly acceptable. And let's take things even further, shall we? If a public school plans to teach sex ed or evolution or any other subject that we know is controversial for families of certain faiths, parents have the right to be forewarned and then to decide whether they think their children should be allowed to participate or sit out.

Freedom of religion trumps the freedom schools have to teach certain subjects. The purpose of public education is to prepare students for citizenship, help them become critical thinkers, and train them to compete in a global marketplace. Its purpose is not to force certain beliefs down their throats. And if you want to make the argument that this teacher was helping her student become better citizens by forcing the Pledge on him, well, I would argue that the compassion he showed by standing and his ability to respect the rights of his peers prove this child has the makings of a pretty decent citizen.

Do you think parents have the right to keep their kids from performing certain rituals or learning subjects because of their religious beliefs?

by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:09 AM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:15 AM
8 moms liked this

Of course parent have the RIGHT.....

The teacher was soooo wrong!

by BL on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:17 AM
3 moms liked this

Sure they do. It's certainly isn't like it was years ago when I was a youngster in school, but like anything, things and people change. If I didn't believe in God I don't expect anyone to tell me I have to use His name. Who am I to tell someone to go against their religion?

by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:21 AM
3 moms liked this
Yes. And that teacher should be fired!
by Silver Member on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:21 AM
2 moms liked this

I do not agree with making the student recite the pledge once he explained it was against his religious beliefs. BUT If we really are keeping "God" out of school should this child's beliefs matter ? Sticky situation. The schools I know where I live do inform parents about the sex ed classes. The school handbook says the pledge will be said every morning and children will be expected to stand with hats off. Its does not say they must recite it.

I know my sons had children in his elementary school who didnt celebrate certain holidays. At the parents request the kids were taken to the library during these celebrations.

by Ruby Member on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:23 AM
by Silver Member on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:26 AM
1 mom liked this
I think parents have a right to pull their child out of class if they don't agree with what's being said. Personally I think kids should learn about different religions and don't find much offensive.
Growing up I didn't understand why everything was about Christmas and nothing was about Hanukkah. Ds has recently asked about this and I explained that their aren't a lot of Jewish people where we live. It's my job to explain my beliefs while teaching him acceptance of others beliefs.
by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:36 AM
1 mom liked this

That's terrible. The teacher was wrong. I was never forced to say the pledge in school. The entire school did it every morning. I would stand, but I never put my hand over my heart and recited it with the class. No teacher made me say it.

by on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Yes I do think the parents have a right.  When I was growing up there were a few JW who wouldn't recite the pledge, it was no big deal.

by Anonymous 1 on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:56 AM
A Hindu kid sang Christmas songs in choir. He had no issue with sacred music and it is legal.
That being said the Pledge isn't a requirement in any class or school.
by Anonymous 2 on Nov. 8, 2013 at 9:59 AM
10 moms liked this

although I do not believe the teacher should have layed a finger on the said child, the child IS in America.  We are conforming so much to the immigrants that come over here, that pretty soon Americans will be the minority and we  will lose all we have established because everyone wants to be politically correct.  Geesh.  It's the pledge.  It's part of our history.  Our kids recite it in school.  Let's just remove the flag while were at it.  That should take care of all the foreighners complaining about it.  They will not be happy until we have nothing "American" left.  What other country changes it's law's, it's history to oblige an immigrant? NONE. 

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