Second of all--I'm not putting this out on social media, because I know it invites debate and anger. I'm not really up to debate and anger-- if you do have a reasoned response to this, feel free to post it, and I'll publish it. If I get ranting, I'll press delete--and I'm not going to reply to anyone's reasoned response. I'm saying my piece--people will say theirs, and we will let it stand there and hopefully part as friends.
But this needs to be said. From the bottom of my toes, I believe it needs to be said:
This is bothering me.
My daughter's soccer coach-- not her father this year-- was telling a parent that he was upset that his daughter was being taught about Islam in school, and he was going to protest that.
I taught English for 18 years.
We taught about the Puritans arriving on the shores of this country and bringing their moral fortitude, as well as hypocrisy and-- quite deliberately-- smallpox.
We taught The Crucible wherein the Puritan belief system was responsible for the deaths of a scandalous number of people, not to mention the persecution of thousands more.
We taught Jonathan Edwards and "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and William Blake's "Little Lamb, Who Made Thee" and Nathaniel Hawthorn's The House of Seven Gables and-- do I need to go on?
Religion drives mores and principles. Mores and principles--and a reaction AGAINST the mores and principles--drive history, politics, culture and literature. History, politics, culture and literature define humanity.
Understanding how a people defines itself is one of the few ways of establishing empathy and finding peace.
The surest way-- and I do mean the surest way-- to ensure that our species destroys itself with violence is to refuse to learn about the religions--and hence the history, mores, principles, politics, culture, and literature-- that drive the many people in our pluralistic society.
So let's be honest here. If you're complaining that there should be a "division of church and state" because someone is teaching the history of a religious belief in school, what you're really saying is not that you believe in the division of church and state. It's that you believe your state should only respect your church.
And that your church-- and I don't care which religion you practice, it is still only a percentage of the world at large-- is the doctrine which should make policy.
Ignorance is not freedom-- ever. Thank you, George Orwell, for teaching me that. It's amazing what you can learn if you open your mind.