Letter of the Day: Remove worship, prayer from public schools
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I should never be forced to write this. This should have been as plain as day to the Ministry of Education. But this is Jamaica. Sorry.
Our public-school system is not the place for Christian fundamentalism or the display of whatever religious conviction of respective schools administrators. How on earth can there be a public Catholic school? It's beyond reason and a blatant insult to the ideal of the separation of Church and State.
Jamaica is a secular democracy. It is not the business of the State to show any sort of special premium towards any religion. And when public-funded schools become institutions that impose a particular religious outlook on our students, it can only expose the systemic unwillingness to value the rights, liberty and diversity of our people.
Though the majority of Jamaicans are so-called Christians, Jamaica remains a secular state. There are many parents in this country who are not Christians. Many Christian parents do not observe the doctrinal traditions of some of our schools and do not wish to have their children forced to participate in the religious expression either.
My son was forced to separate from me in March. I came into the island on Sunday and decided to drop in at his new school's devotion. I was alarmed by the unacceptable level of Roman Catholicism on display at that St Catherine school. Honestly, if it was not a GSAT year, I would have certainly moved him. What I saw was the gross and callous imposition of religion on our young students.
This should be unacceptable. The Ministry of Education should move to totally remove religious devotion from public schools.
There is certainly no basis for any sort of Christian imposition in our public-school system. If our school administrators believe that Christianity is the best medium to impart morals and values, they should simply read more history.
Religion has never been a reliable source of moral training. The slavers were Christians. The Christian Church oppressed the early scientists, burnt witches and heretics and murdered large groups who refused the religion. Also, Jamaica has a church on every corner, yet the culture is so violent, coarse and divisive.
Do not presume that it would have been worse had it not been for the presence of our Church. As they are so many countries with better social health, having far fewer churches than us.
I am not saying that religious training is inherently bad or we should do away with our churches. I am simply saying that our public institutions should not be used for our personal religious parading. There are thousands of different representations of God. Religion is a very private undertaking and should never be forced upon others.
There are numerous ways to start a new school year without prayers and singing. My company does not force us to pray and sing before we start a sales day. Why should our children?
RICARDO CUSH MCKENZIE