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  1. #1
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    Where does culture end and religion begin?

    The post about school Christmas programs and otoc's thread on the foundation of the country got me to wondering about the title of this thread. I do not claim to have a cut-and-dried answer to the question. Rather I think it may be beneficial for differing points of view to be aired on the matter. As it is, it seems there is a vocal group at opposing ends of the spectrum. As examples, we have Orangutan, who says that there should be no celebration in a public school which could in any way be tied to religion (my paraphrasing here, Orang, please feel free to clarify). On the opposite end, we have nuke, who says since Christians make up the majority the others should live with Christian celebrations (again, my paraphrasing, nuke feel free to clarify).

    On the school front, it's interesting that there seems to be a growing emphasis on teaching cultures outside of the United States. My wife teaches junior high kids. They study religions from the historic perspective right alongside cultures of the past. Understandably, none of it gets in much depth due to time and the age of the students. During the course of this, however, it is not uncommon to have "special days" where they mimic something from another time and/or culture.

    I find this interesting in light of the recent discussions. If they choose to re-enact the Passover or stoning (without killing anyone, mind you) or anything tied to Christ, they would be vilified by the secular segment of society for "promoting" Judaism or Christianity. I wager the same would happen were they to re-enact anything related to the Muslim faith. What's curious is that no one seems to care if they act out scenes from the Mayans, for example. I honestly know little about the Mayans, other than what I picked up walking through Chitzen Itza and a couple of lesser known ruins, but it's clear they "worshipped", had "Gods", etc.

    So where does one draw the line on keeping "religion" out of school?

    Is it OK to re-enact things ala the Mayans but not to put on a "Christ"mas program?

    IMHO, the real crux of the matter is how does one separate culture and religion when talking about a separation of church and state? I do not see that such a complete separation is possible without compromising on the "culture" end of things. More to the point, I see substantial overlap between culture and religion that makes it impossible to eliminate religion from something like school without also eliminating historical, cultural topics.

    I personally understand that schools and government are not the place for "promoting" religion. What some view as promoting, others merely see as innocuous celebration. When there's so little agreement between viewpoints, how does one reconcile culture and religion in the same setting?

    There's also overlap among concepts between religions, and this leads to my brief comments on otoc's thread. I would not say we were necessarily founded on "Christian" beliefs but rather on "correct" beliefs. The same basic tenets are held by all major religions and in my estimation ought to be taught to all children regardless of race, culture, etc. Those tenets are well represented in the Bill of Rights and the preamble to the Constitution, among others. Those tenets weren't chosen because they were Christian, but because they are just. They just so happen to agree with Christianity (and Judaism, and Islam).

    Anyway, I'm curious to know what folks think about the intertwining of culture and religion and how one can reconcile them in the context of government/school and the separation of church and state.

  2. #2
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    I think there are a few problems. Christianity should be covered in studies, but so should all the other major religions. It should be taught from a historical perspective, explaining why it arose, when, and how. Give precursors and corrolaries to it, talk about the actual events surrounding the religion and not just what the Book tells you. Yet, there are many Christians who would not want such things taught. In a perfect world, every religion would be taught equally. We don't live in a perfect world, and people would object to viewing Christianity in historical and cultural perspectives, looking at the good, the bad, the new, the rehashed. People don't like questioning their beliefs, especially their religious ones. (Can you imagine the outrage from some of the right-wing zealots when you start to explain how Jesus can be seen as another interpretation of Hercules or Sayoshant?) I study Christianity in my classes at the university, and even there people become outraged when you start questioning things and showing the bad side of the religion. I don't think you should hold religious celebrations of any sort in any governmental holdings. If you want to put on a play for educational purposes, then do so for other religions/cultures as well. One of the best things that can happen to students is exposure to multiple sources of information. You just have to make sure that no one religion is taught in a way to favor it, as Christianity inevitably would be and is.
    Last edited by Orangutan; 12-23-2004 at 04:48 PM. Reason: Typographical error
    Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

  3. #3
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    In a perfect world, every religion would be taught equally.
    In a perfect world there wouldn't be any religion to teach.

  4. #4
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Well you are asking several questions here in addition to the thread premise[title]. Where does "culture" leave off...and religion begin is sort of ambigious....since one is part of the larger "other". Why dont we start with some definitions of "culture"

    SOME DEFINITIONS
    Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
    Culture is the systems of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people.
    Culture is communication, communication is culture.
    Culture in its broadest sense is cultivated behavior; that is the totality of a person's learned, accumulated experience which is socially transmitted, or more briefly, behavior through social learning.
    A culture is a way of life of a group of people--the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.
    Culture is symbolic communication. Some of its symbols include a group's skills, knowledge, attitudes, values, and motives. The meanings of the symbols are learned and deliberately perpetuated in a society through its institutions.
    Culture consists of patterns, explicit and implicit, of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiments in artifacts; the essential core of culture consists of traditional ideas and especially their attached values; culture systems may, on the one hand, be considered as products of action, on the other hand, as conditioning influences upon further action.
    Culture is the sum of total of the learned behavior of a group of people that are generally considered to be the tradition of that people and are transmitted from generation to generation.
    Culture is a collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.

    Maybe we can use this one as a working definition:

    Culture: The system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, and artifacts that the members of society use to cope with their world and with one another, and that are transmitted from generation to generation through learning .

  5. #5
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Not sure if it is a good thing or not but I find myself agreeing with Orangutan a lot lately and agree with the post above.

    Problem with it though is I don't think there is enough TIME in regular school year to teach all the different religions thoroughly enough to make a difference. So IMO religion should be dropped all together and be taught later in life as an optional class in college or on the side such as church and what not. As for 0-12 I think the main priority should be getting our kids ready to be productive citizens period. I pay for my daughter to learn to read, write, do math and think for herself. Not be informed of various religions and be pushed torwards one or the other.

    I personally would have no issues with religion if it wasn't for the fact people take it so personally they feel differently about someone else that doesn't share their own religious beliefs. Especially to the point war and death breaks out.

  6. #6
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaydee116
    Not sure if it is a good thing or not but I find myself agreeing with Orangutan a lot lately and agree with the post above.

    Problem with it though is I don't think there is enough TIME in regular school year to teach all the different religions thoroughly enough to make a difference. So IMO religion should be dropped all together and be taught later in life as an optional class in college or on the side such as church and what not. As for 0-12 I think the main priority should be getting our kids ready to be productive citizens period. I pay for my daughter to learn to read, write, do math and think for herself. Not be informed of various religions and be pushed torwards one or the other.

    I personally would have no issues with religion if it wasn't for the fact people take it so personally they feel differently about someone else that doesn't share their own religious beliefs. Especially to the point war and death breaks out.
    QFT

  7. #7
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaydee116
    So IMO religion should be dropped all together.........
    I agree. School is no place to be TEACHING religion. Although, I suppose, we might differ on why. For me, two reasons:

    1. I don't think teachers can do it justice. Seriously. The are as biased and prejudiced as anyone else. It is hard to believe an atheist teacher doing Christianity properly, and vice versa. I may not agree that religious celebrations should be separate from gov't facilities, but I do agree the classroom is not the appropriate venue.

    2. I guess this makes me a right wing zealot, but I don't want my kids learning about Islam or Buddha. I know many of you simply now just view me as the right wing lunatic here, but before you start with your flaming and insults, try to at least understand what I am about to say next.

    If religion were simply just something to make you feel good, but in the end, did not really matter, then it wouldn't really matter if a Christian child learned Islam, or a Muslim child learned the secrets of Budhha, etc. But that is not the way a religious person views it. As a Christian, I cannot be true to my faith, and say that Islam or Budhha are right, or even that they are acceptable religions. I can respect ppls choice to follow the Q'ran or whatever, but I am not going to concede they are right, nor am I going to allow my children to be taught such doctrine. Christianity (as does any major religion) has a set of major tenets that simply are not reconcilable with the others. To accept another religion, then, as ok, is to not be true to your own.

    Perhaps Orang is right, perhaps as long as their are public schools, we need to simply ban all religion. It is a shame that something as innocous as a Christmas party becomes the casualty, and the children the victims.

    Which, of course, is why I advocate an end to public schools altogether, and favour a purely private system.

  8. #8
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Culture ends when religion begins.

  9. #9
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    No. You are wrong. Culture is a fabric. And religion are some threads.

  10. #10
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by jimzinsocal
    No. You are wrong. Culture is a fabric. And religion are some threads.
    You can still make the fabric by changing some of the threads. However, by using inferior threads, the whole fabric tends to fall apart.

  11. #11
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by jimzinsocal
    No. You are wrong. Culture is a fabric. And religion are some threads.
    You might as well

  12. #12
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by nuke
    You might as well

    Shouldnt you be off in Iraq fighting the muslims?

  13. #13
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jezus
    You can still make the fabric by changing some of the threads. However, by using inferior threads, the whole fabric tends to fall apart.
    Show me. The successful fabric woven without religious thred. Show me. You cannot demonstrate a sucessful society that avoids religion.

  14. #14
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by jimzinsocal
    Show me. The successful fabric woven without religious thred. Show me. You cannot demonstrate a sucessful society that avoids religion.
    Well I dont believe it has been tried yet.

  15. #15
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    Re: Where does culture end and religion begin?

    ^^^Yes it has. Read. Show me the pure secular system that avoids/disposes of religion. Show me how well it worked.

    Note. Jezus? I honor your opinions. We just think different. This isnt at you as an individual. Your thoughts are as valiable as mine. Were two guys with a different point of view.....we make each other think.
    Last edited by jimzinsocal; 12-23-2004 at 07:52 PM.

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