This (last) week in the news: continued scrutiny of religion in America, with a focus on kids and schools. On on hand, America’s migration from “religious” to “spiritual” is still making headlines, this week with a new study specifically looking at youth. On the other, a teacher who disparaged creationism in his classroom finds himself at the wrong end of a discrimination lawsuit, and Arizona moves to protect religious expression in schools.
First, the religiosity studies. Pew continues to release data and analysis of its recent survey, while Harvard’s Robert Putnam (author of the excellent Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community) focuses on our kids:
- Many Americans are saying goodbye to religion, but not faith (US News and World Report) fleshes out the Pew data – turns out the 40% of 15% of the population that calls themselves the unaffiliated still consider some form of spirituality important to their lives.
- According to Putnam’s research, the number of unaffiliated young people shoots up to between 30 and 40 percent. Reports ABC:
While these young “nones” may not belong to a church, they are not necessarily atheists.
“Many of them are people who would otherwise be in church,” Putnam said. “They have the same attitudes and values as people who are in church, but they grew up in a period in which being religious meant being politically conservative, especially on social issues.”
Putnam says that in the past two decades, many young people began to view organized religion as a source of “intolerance and rigidity and doctrinaire political views,” and therefore stopped going to church.
Not all of our kids have left the fold, however. California teacher James Corbett was just found to have violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment when he referred to creationism as “religious, superstitious nonsense” in the classroom, prompting a lawsuit from one of his students. Read more about it:
- ‘Superstitious nonsense’ remark violated rights (Syracuse.com)
- California teacher liable for anti-Christian comment (Dispatches from the Culture Wars)
Meanwhile, in Arizona, the legislature is working to push the Students Religious Liberties Act, which would bar schools from discriminating against students or parents on the basis of religious expressions. “Under the bill, prayer and other religious activities would be permitted “to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities or expression.”” (azCentral.com)
And in Georgia, a high school mock trial championship’s attracted the potential ire of the DOJ for scheduling its tournament over a Saturday, thus making it impossible for Massachusetts’ state champions – who are Orthodox Jews from the Maimonidies School – to compete…after the mock trial association went through the same thing 4 years ago in North Carolina. The Georgia state bar association is involved, tournament judges are pulling out in protest – read all about it at Law.com.
Finally, a slightly unrelated but lovely piece that couldn’t illustrate why we do our work any better than if we had written it ourselves.