There are some phrases that are so oxymoronic that you know that what follows will be some vacuous attempt to violate rules of logic and common sense. At least, that’s how I felt before, and after, reading a piece on the Canadian Educator’s Association blog about “The Multi-Faith Secular” which tries to argue for “spiritually inclusive schools.”
The post is by Nadir Shirazi, who as far as I can tell has created a company to push religion back into schools and workplaces in a politically correct fashion.
He argues that since people derive meaning from religion that we need to meet them where we are and accommodate them. Depending on which side of my atheist lair I climb out of, I am either sympathetic or hostile to this view. Let’s try to continue with an open mind though.
Oh but wait, Shirazi doesn’t just think accommodating those currently in the system is enough
The problem with religious accommodation as a framework is that it waits for students, or in some cases staff, to make a request rather than putting the responsibility on the board and school from designing institutions that take into account the need for students to authentically express themselves.
My liberal heart is hardened and I’m going militant secularist here.
We do not need to be building schools to promote religion – even the religions already practiced. Instead we ought to be beefing up science, humanities, and comparative religion studies to break down this unquestionable dogmas that still plague are society as we approach 2012.
Shirazi says students should have the right to explore their faith, and no one is disagreeing. What I take offense to is that he wants to take my money to subsidize the religious indoctrination of future generations. Elementary schools don’t need priests and prayer spaces, they need properly funded – and certified – teachers.
Instead he wants to raise “the thorny issues of”
- faith and sexual orientation
- faith and gender equity
- opposition of different faiths
- freedom of religion and freedom from religion
- people switching world views after getting exposure to others
- people who don’t define their meaning-making in one category or another
Guess what? Faith doesn’t have a good track record of promoting tolerance or understanding on any of those issues.
Let’s discuss values, human rights, pluralism, and tolerance in school, but leave the blind dogmatic faiths to the churches.
There’s nothing “secular” in this multi-faith approach. It’s the same old school prayer packaged in modern politically sensitive language.