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September 20th, 2012 at 09:10 am

Diversity Need Not Mean Division

There is NEVER any excuse for creating a atmosphere of hate and intolerance and most assuredly not one that leads to violence.

Nor can we solve today’s problems by turning the other cheek.

It is no secret that I was raised “Terminally Catholic” – Roman and Orthodox with all the twists an turns an ethnically diverse city and neighborhood can provide.

AZ Gov Jan Brewer
Arizona Gov Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that will allow bible classes in the Arizona public schools.

Certainly the “dark” part of the Catholic history be denied, fortunately we were taught that the inquisition, the crusades and the treatment of the “natives” were more about the flaws of man, than the evil of any religion.

It was the LEARNING about not only the differences but also what we had in common that made a huge difference. Maybe I was just lucky, but I remember the Dominican Nuns who made subtle note of the traditions of every child in their classes – we learned about the cultural traditions of the Irish, Scots, Polish, Ukrainian, Italian, Hispanic (Cuban and Puerto Rican mostly) and of course especially about their unique celebrations of our common religion and yes our common neighborhood (we all walked to school and most lived close enough to walk home for lunch)

Our Neighbors included wonderful examples of their faiths including a Baptist Minister and his family on one side and an elder in his church and his wife who taught me to Crochet at the age of five. Mrs E also will forever be remembered as the Cookie Lady by all who grew up in that neighborhood, largely Roman Catholic but with a diversity in ethnicity, blended into good neighbors.

Looking back, it is obvious the willingness to allow other to hold opposing views comes from the grounding in tolerance provided by my parents and my teachers, and more than a little by the diversity of my “block”.

No question we were also taught that others were misguided in their beliefs, we were never taught to think of them as evil or that those who did not agree should be subjected to torture or worse.

Nor, should we be tolerant of any entity which preaches hatred and murder.

We must take and all appropriate action to protect our citizens at home and abroad. There is no excuse not to do so.

Still, Arizona is right – teaching Comparative Religion could well be a first step to restablishing real tolerance – The United States of America is a nation that was made strong by taking our differences and blending them into a whole while respecting the rights of others to have some different beliefs.

We need to find a way back to creating commonality respectful of ethinicity, but at the same time sharing a “new” culture and language if we seek that

Diversity need not mean Division!

  • 1

    Sure, let’s have comparative religion classes. Too bad that’s not what AZ is doing. “Bible Classes” only include 1) the bible we want , 2) the interpretation of the bible we want, 3) do not include any non-christian religion. Not much comparative there.

    John Beaty on September 20th, 2012
  • 2

    Not perfect, but a step – I am sure that will not be long before suits will be brought to block or expand the scope of these elective classes

    the college level course I took included maybe 20 different belief systems. It lead to the me reading several versions of the bible, the Koran, and more of the Torah that I had since jr hs.

    Maybe the glass is only 20% full, but at least it may not be empty.

    wheat on September 20th, 2012
  • 3

    As part of a sometimes/formerly persecuted religious minority (that means non-Christians in the US), it’s hard to see it Wheat’s way. I don’t want my children to learn your Bible. I choose to teach them the Bible as I understand it. You may think we are talking about the same book, but if you heard my interpretations, we might disagree. As soon as the teacher says something with the accompanying authority and weight that carries,I have few choices left to me. If I challenge the teacher what does that tell my child about my support for the authority in the classroom? If I don’t challenge the teacher, how will my child learn my values? If I were a parent who doesn’t even realize their values are being challenged, then what? Thanks, but no thanks.

    Liz Rolle on September 21st, 2012
  • 4

    Hi Liz,

    You have valid concerns, just as many parents are concerned about what is taught is in other classes (honestly do 1st graders really need a sex ed class)

    What you may have missed that the course if an ELECTIVE,

    Therefore it will be up to you as the parent to decide if your child should participate.

    I very much support your concern) that this class cannot be made mandatory in a Public School.

    Still, we have to start somewhere and it would seem, if you read the news article, that great care has been taken to address many concerns.

    wheat on September 21st, 2012
  • 5

    Wheat, the article says:
    According to HB 2563, “A school district or charter school may offer an elective course pertaining to how the Bible has influenced western culture for pupils in grades nine through twelve.”

    This is in no way comparative religions, it is a straight-out American Christian shot. Jews, Presbyterians, Catholics need not apply. It is not, unfortunately, a good start.

    Yes, it’s an elective. It still has the imprimatur of authority. Good luck being one of two or three kids left out.

    Oh, yes, Hi Liz!

    And 1st grade isn’t sex ed, it’s “It’s your body, don’t let other people mess with it.”

    John Beaty on September 21st, 2012
  • 6

    I’m so glad that my kids managed to pass through the public school system without being forced to take any religious instruction. I remember too well the brainwashing the dear (if misguided) Sisters of Saint Joseph did to me. NO child should be told her parents are damned to hell because they divorced! Nor should she be made to fear becoming friends with any protestant, Jew, or ‘different’ person! It took me until my twenties – and an eye-opening visit to Vatican City – to realize that the whole business was nothing more than just that: BUSINESS – for profit. If along the way some good was done, it’s just by happenstance.

    God save us all from the religious zealots – of whatever stripe!

    Jessica-Jean on September 21st, 2012
  • 7

    I was raised jewbyterian: my mother’s family were mostly cultural jews, and my father’s were scottish rite presbyterian. When my dad died, my mother remarried an atheist, and we moved to Rome, where I learned first-hand Roman Catholicism, while enrolled at an English school, which prayed as Church of England.
    In 10th Grade I had a true comparative religions class: All christian religions, judaism, islam, buddhism, shinto, nativism and confucianism, compare and contrast.
    At this point in my life, I accept (not tolerate) all forms of religious expression, except those which act in violence, whether physical or not.
    If I feel the need to attend church, there’s Westminster Presbyterian 1 1/2 blocks from my house, St Elizabeth’s 1/2 bock further, and two Buddhist temples within the 1/2 mile. I’m covered.

    John Beaty on September 24th, 2012


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