Put up symbols of all faiths

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I think back to when I registered my oldest child to enter kindergarten. While I was in the office filling out the forms, another parent came in to register her child as well.

When she got to the question of what religion the child was, she was told that she would have go to a different school to register, as they were the wrong religion.

Turns out she lived in the house that virtually shared a driveway with this school but would have to see her child bused to the other school.

When I cast my vote in favour of school reform, I did so with this incident in mind. I was voting, as I thought, to have all children come together in community schools and have a curriculum that would teach them an understanding and a tolerance for all religions. Not one that would remove religion totally.

A lot has been made lately about the issue of a cross being removed from a school in St. John’s because of its association with one faith. I have to say that I agree with the issue that public schools should not display a bias to one faith over any other.

However, I do not agree that removing the cross is the answer.

The answer, in my opinion, is in celebrating the fact that children of multiple faiths can come together as a community and learn and play together. They can learn that the child sitting next to them has a different belief, what that belief is, what it means and that they do not have to be separate from everyone else because of it.

So instead of removing a symbol, why not add to it?

Put up a symbol of all the faiths that are represented in a particular school. Let it be a celebration of the fact that people can come together and learn and play together while still having their separate beliefs.

When a child of a new faith to the school enrols, make a big deal of adding their symbol to the wall of honour.

Spend some time informing the children about the particular faith and, in the process, make the child feel welcome.

These issues that arise are adult issues. For the most part, children don’t know or care whether a particular symbol is there or not.

By expanding on it and actually making them aware of the symbols and the meanings, we can hopefully leave behind a generation that is more tolerant and aware of not only their own place in the universe but that of everyone else as well.

Bob Clarke is a former trustee with the Avalon East school district. He writes from St. John’s.

Organizations: Avalon East school

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Recent comments

  • Non Judgemental
    June 12, 2013 - 12:14

    I feel so sad for the person who complained about the cross; they have such pent up anger and intolerance and harbour so much discrimination. Live and let live. We should encourage groups to display religious artifacts and symbols that represent any and all religions as a show of support for our diverse culture. Otherwise, if you remove one, then you must remove all visible symbols; ie: crosses; necklaces with any religious symbols; turbans, burkas,the Kirpan; and the like....and on and on. We can't just pick on Christianity; if we are to desecrate one religion, then we must remove all; after-all, we must be fair and neutral, right?

  • Doug Smith
    June 11, 2013 - 13:40

    I totally agree with Jeff.Keep religion and its evil ways and history out of our schools . Doug Smith, Grand Falls-Windsor

  • Chantal
    June 11, 2013 - 10:51

    Religion in schools should be confined to mythology, sociology, or folklore classes where it belongs.

  • Harvey
    June 11, 2013 - 10:48

    ABob Clarke hits the nail on the head! Children don't care about color or faith. A few bigoted members of an older generation cause the problem. Teach children that we are all human beings.

  • Ron Tizzard
    June 11, 2013 - 10:03

    I agree totally with Bob Clarke. Education, from my perspective,per se, is all about...ENLIGHTENMENT.. in all of its capactities....religion (in all of its interpretative capacities) included. I think the school setting is a perfect place, especially in these more liberal days, to introduce the complex notion of Religion, faith etc. issues. Youths can receive related information more objectively in schoool: and the personal application of the notion of faith fine-tuned in the home. FAITH IS A PERSONAL HOLDING, TO BE INTRODUCED EARLY, FINE-TUNED THROUGH YEARS, DECISIONS FINALLY MADE IN EARLY ADULTHOOD.

  • Jeff
    June 11, 2013 - 08:05

    Do you really think that bringing a child of a non-Christian faith into a school and making a "big deal" of it is going to address the deep-seated and on-going bigotry that is a mark of Newfoundland culture? Too often I hear of Canada or Newfoundland as being "founded" on Christian principles and to not to put them at the fore-front amounts to some sort of discrimination?! Such a child would be singled out and bullied relentlessly. Best to tear down those outdated symbols down and get on with living in the civilised world.