How Religious Education Differs From Public Education?

Religion in Public Schools
School Prayer
Sites from an Administrator's Perspective on this issue

Public schools do not include religious instruction because the state prohibits them to do so. They can only educate about religion. The government, however, is not hostile to any form of religion. They support religious expression but they can not directly influence any person on religion. This is the reason why public school students are allowed to express themselves religiously and to participate in activities with religious substance. The case is not the same with teachers. As representatives of the school, they are prohibited from leading their students in any religious undertaking.

Religious education is not similar to public education. The first is being applied among schools with deep- rooted religious leanings while the latter refers to a traditional public school system. They vary as to purpose, content and control. Educational institutions manifesting faithful devotion to a particular religion like Christianity educate for the benefit of God. They believe that students must be nurtured according to the likeness of Christ. On the other hand, the traditional public school system educates for the benefit of the state and the society. The students are being taught and are compelled to attend school so that the may be better citizens of the state to which they belong.

Religious educational institutions use their religious doctrines as part of their instruction. For Christians, the Word of God is embedded in their teachings. Their students are being educated in the same way as traditional public schools in terms of reading, writing and arithmetic but their curriculum is imprinted with the Word of God. All their subjects are taught from the viewpoint of the Word of God. As for the traditional public educational system, they educate students through a structured approach that involves reading, writing and arithmetic. It can be said that its content is humanism because of the absence of any religious perspective. Humanism discards religious beliefs and focuses on humans and their values.

The public educational system is within the power of the state to regulate and control. Thus, the state is obliged to implement rules and regulations to improve the educational system. Such regulations may include requiring mandatory attendance among students, sanctioning parents or guardians who refuse to send their children to school, requiring teaching credentials before a teacher can teach and setting standards in the manner the subjects are being taught. Religious educational institutions believe that the responsibility to educate children is given by God to the parents. Thus, control lies in the hands of the parents. The parent has the option of putting the child in a religious educational institution of his choice.

How religious education differ from public education? The Pros and Cons:

Both religious and public educational institutions have their respective advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of learning a parent seeks for his child. Religious families who may wish to keep their religious traditions intact and wants an educational environment that will nurture their beliefs may opt to put their children in schools sanctioned by their religion or sect. On the other hand, parents with no such requirement may opt for the latter. Students with religious affiliations might feel alienated and disrespected in a public school setting in the same way that those with no religious background may feel left out and unaccepted in a religious school. It cannot be said that one is superior over the other. Method of teaching may vary with respect to the importance being given to religion but the standard of education is greatly the same. Their primary objective is to provide a quality method of instruction to their students. The choice is for the parents to make. Be it a religious or public school, what matters is what school the student will benefit the most.

    More on Religious Education

  1. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
  2. Church vs State and Faith Based Initiatives
  3. International Coalition for Religious Freedom
  4. Religion, Politics, and the State
  5. The Religious Liberty Archive