Occasionally one runs across a post that’s particularly nicely done. I think Matthew Boudway’s recent reflections on a column by Clifford Longley on the new atheists comes dangerously close to perfect. It’s brief, highlights an interesting article, and adds a thoughtful perspective that provides more depth to the article it cites. Here’s a snippet:
[In response to Richard Dawkins’s claim that it is wrong to “indoctrinate tiny children in the religion of their parents, and to slap religious labels on them,”]
“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,” Longley writes…Longley proposes this as an argument about parenting, but it is hard to see why it wouldn’t also apply to education. If the argument doesn’t apply to education, why doesn’t it? If it does — and if it is a good argument — then people of faith have a compelling reason not to send their children to schools where the subject of religion qua religion is carefully avoided. One could, I suppose, argue that the tacit message of such schools is that religion is too important to get mixed up with the tedious but necessary stuff of primary education, but of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so.
However fastidiously they dodge metaphysical questions, they cannot dodge what Socrates called the most important question: how to live. Educators who think they do or can avoid this question are fooling themselves. And educators who answer this question while systematically avoiding religious questions inevitably impart the lesson that “religion doesn’t matter” — or at least not in the way most religious people think it does. If Christian claims are true, then, as Longley says, they matter a great deal, in ways that bear, directly and indirectly, on much of what students learn in an ordinary grade school. This is obviously not an argument against religious pluralism, but it may be an argument against Catholics’ accepting the most common way of accomodating religious pluralism in public schools.
Read the rest here.