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God, Gone with the Sugar
Schools today.


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Susan Konig

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Science is great. In fact, it’s our nine-year-old’s favorite subject. But this statement isn’t pro-science, it’s anti-God. It’s saying that a moment of silence is an offensive thing and that it should be replaced by something academic.

Is the feeling that schools should simply concentrate on children’s education and leave everything else outside the school grounds? Maybe, but recent battles over junk food in schools indicate that parents and even some lawmakers want schools to do something about kids’ health.

Efforts have even involved state legislatures which, for the most part, have said the matter is best controlled by parents and school boards working together.

So schools can tend to children’s minds and bodies, but not their souls.

My kids are in Catholic elementary school and I don’t give them money to buy high-calorie soft drinks. They drink milk and are allowed to purchase a junky treat occasionally.

They also pray throughout the day and excel in science.

Still, it would be nice to show up for a sports event or a play at the public schools we support wholeheartedly with our tax dollars and not be offended for our beliefs. I don’t meet to overreact — I realize this is one bumper sticker on one person’s car — but I have been overtly confronted with this anti-religious fervor before.

Public-school parents complain to me about fashions and trends that consume their kids, costing money and anxiety when the “right” pair of jeans cannot be afforded. They envy the uniforms and discipline of Catholic and other religious schools.

But they won’t pass a dress code banning caps and other trendy headwear from classrooms. “Well, if we do that,” they say, “we’re crushing their creativity and freedom of expression.” If parents and teachers cannot tell children not to wear a cap to school, how can they tell them with any authority to do certain things or not to act in a manner that may be offensive, dangerous, or illegal.

This is a fairly recent trend. When my husband attended public school in the 1970s, he was required to have his hair cut to a certain length and had to wear a collared shirt every day. No one protested that personal rights were being violated by having a few dress codes in place. And they observed a daily moment of silence.

These days, many parents with children in public middle school are concerned with issues involving sex and drugs among kids as young as 10, 11, 12. As a mom with kids in parochial school, I hear from these parents on a fairly regular basis. They say to me, “I’m almost tempted to send my kids to Catholic school — except for the God thing.”

So they would rather have their kids more likely exposed to drugs and sexual situations than to God? “I just don’t know how I would feel about them being exposed to religion,” they explain.

There are worse things than religion.

Susan Konig, a journalist, is author of Why Animals Sleep So Close to the Road (And Other Lies I Tell My Children).



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