Relax! I am not going to talk about religion per sé, nor am I going to take up a collection. Au contraire – damn, isn’t Google wonderful; I can use foreign expressions and sound sophisticated – my wonderings today take me to the furore surrounding the argument of religion in our schools.

I have heard the cry so often: Bring religion back into our schools! Now dear reader, my cry would much rather be: bring corporal punishment back into our schools – but that is a story for another day.

Please bear with me as a number of things I am about to say have been said by other people and I cannot for the love of me find where I have read it and therefore run the risk of maybe quoting someone without acknowledgement.  I therefore apologise in advance and will gladly add the necessary attributes when pointed out.

Back to the subject matter: Brothers and sisters….oops, please forgive me.  I got carried away for a moment.  I would love being a fire and brimstone minister.  Putting the fear of God into the congregation and watching them squirm! The evil twin forced me to write this paragraph – I’m a Gemini – used to be a Virgo.

Everyone has a belief system and that should not be confused with religion.  Most belief system focuses on the GOOD and warns against the BAD.  From belief systems follows teachings that culminate in religious practices. And as with all teachings, people will differ as far as content, approach, focus, methods and outcome are concerned.  People will therefore be divided and will form separate associations, each with its own followers.

To bring religion back into our schools is a recipe for disaster. People are very passionate and even emotional regarding their beliefs and I do not have to point out the zillion examples.

Someone once said that teachers are not qualified to teach religion.  I agree whole heartedly. They are trained to teach specific subjects and are not religious leaders whose core function is narrowed to the metaphysical.

For argument sake, let us bring religion back into our schools. Right, now whose religion do we bring back? Christianity, as far as I can determine, is the religion of choice for the pro-religion in schools. Mmm…do we go for Protestant or Catholic? The chorus sounds like Protestant. Okay, let’s look at that. Some fundamental differences are at stake here.  Then we have Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and a few more – all with their own divisions.

The result can only be disastrous as children instead of being allowed to be children an learning to socialise, will be labelled and categorised.  Isn’t this exactly what we do not want?

In order to set the context for this piece, allow me to give you some back ground.  I was raised in the Dutch Reformed Church and attended Afrikaans medium schools inside a closed community, thanks to the Apartheid years. In essence, school and church was the same thing.  Many of the school teachers were also Sunday school teachers.  Bible study as a compulsory subject was therefore just an extension of Sunday school and visa versa.  Communities in this regard were therefore almost totally homogeneous. Schools did not cater for and were not supported by “outsiders” whether based on religion, language, culture, ethnics or race.

Society has evolved.  Our communities, schools and churches look a little different now.

Published by

Johan van Zyl

I was born on 6 June 1961, six days into the new Republic of South Africa and the 17th anniversary of D-Day. For the moment I am employed in the private Sector as a Logistics professional, residing in Johannesburg – where I was born and bred. Apparently there are only two types of people in the world: those who make things happen and those who wonder what the hell just happened. I am an aspiring novelist – aren’t we all – and love to wonder about the simplicity as well as complicity that make us human, although I sometimes wonder if we have really evolved from being single cell organisms. I love life as well as a handful of people. Next to being outdoors, reading and writing are high on my priority list. I love company, even my own – sometimes.