Equality To All

This essay has a total of 4396 words and 19 pages.

Equality to all





Equality for All?


The question has been raised: who is in control of curriculum in our school? Not just the choosing of the precise books, but who is in charge of the contents of the books that curriculum directors can choose from? Once the answers to these questions are found, what should be done if they point to one group? So many problems in the United States have arisen when the people discover that one group is violating the people’s rights in some way by not allowing others power, that it would be logical to conclude that it would be perceived by many to be unfair if it is found that one interest group chooses what all American children learn, especially if that interest group is furthering their own interests by doing so.
However, finding out the answers to these questions is quite difficult at best. The subject has been written about extensively, and since there are so many opinions, the unbiased truth is virtually impossible to come by. In this topic, it has been at least suggested by others that everyone is biased, including our Supreme Court, so one must tread carefully in stating so-called "facts." Humanism and secular humanism and what they have to do with present educational curriculum will be discussed for the remainder. Though human nature tends to make all humans biased in some way, both sides of the argument have been researched and will be documented until fair conclusions can be made.
First, the term "humanism" must be defined. To do this fully, the definition of "humanism" will be given from the dictionary, and then humanists themselves will have a turn to define themselves. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary terms "humanism" as "a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; esp.: a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason." The same dictionary defines "doctrine" as "a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief: DOGMA." To understand fully what this is pointing to, one must then look at the definition of "dogma"—"a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church." Most will agree that an accredited collegiate dictionary is an acceptable place to look for information, and here it is shown that humanism can be tied to a religion.
People who claim to be humanist would also seem to be a good place to look for a formal term for humanism. Rebecca Bushnell writes of early humanist pedagogy when she says,
"This is a humanism based on belief that people are largely responsible for what happens on this earth; committed to tolerance, attention to the differences among people and the need to treat them with equal respect; shaped by a cheerful acceptance of ambivalence and contradiction; and informed by an almost painful historical consciousness, which sees the past as estranged yet able to illuminate present concerns (8)."
This explanation definitely sounds like what most people want to feel, or at least what they claim to, but humanism is more than this.
Humanism is also defined by the worship of man; Curtis W. Reese writes, "There is a large element of faith in all religion. [Christianity has faith] in the love of God; and Humanism in man as the measure of values…Hypotheses, postulates, and assumptions in their proper realm are comparable to faith in the realm of religion. In this way I speak of the faith of Humanism." Another humanist deals with the humanistic beliefs in right and wrong: "In humanism right and wrong are defined in terms of consequence to human life (10)."
To further clarify what humanists believe, more writings of humanists will prove that they consider humanism to be their religion. Gerald A. Larque, a man who signed the Humanist Manifesto II, writes, "Our religion is based upon the best that we know about our cosmos, our world, and ourselves…We recognize our oneness with the cosmos and our spatial and temporal minuteness…We see ourselves as the highest life-form the evolutionary process has developed…(11)." The 1979 Humanist of the Year, who co-founded and edited The New Humanist, also believes humanism to be a religion: "…Humanism in a naturalistic frame is validly a religion…(7)."
A Humanist Manifesto, also known as the Humanist Manifesto I, continually describes humanism as a religion. "The time has come for widespread recognition of the radical changes in religious beliefs…In every field of human activity, the vital movement is now in the direction of a candid and explicit humanism…religious humanism (13)." From the Humanist Manifesto II, one can see that Kurtz thinks of humanism as " a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view" and that it offers a believer a formula for salvation and a future sanctuary (12).
Other humanists who claim humanism as their religion illustrate what "religion" means to them. Julian Huxley says in Religion Without Revelation, "There are whole religions which make no mention of God. The most notable example, as already mentioned, is that of Buddhism (14)." Furthering this thought, "Religion, then,…will mean a ruling commitment practiced by a community of individuals to what they believe creates, sustains, saves, and transforms human existence toward the greatest good (15)." With this, one has sufficient information concerning basic humanism beliefs.
Besides the fact that humanists themselves admit to being a religious organization, there are several examples of how the American legal system treats humanism—as a religion. In a Supreme Court case, Torcaso v. Watkins, a Notary Public from Maryland was reinstated after being fired for refusing to proclaim a belief in God. The Court recognized religions that do not believe in God as "real" religions when it wrote, "Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism and others (7)." This statement will be considered later in the discussion.
All formal humanist membership organizations in America claim 501(c )3 religious tax exempt status or deem themselves expressly religious. Dr. Paul Kurtz states, "Even the American Humanist Association (3,500 members)…has a religious tax exemption (7)." An editor of The Humanist magazine, Paul Blanshard says, "There has been another victory for those who would interpret the word "religion" very broadly…the appellate court reversed by a unanimous decision. Now the F.O.R. [Fellowship of Reconciliation] is established as a "religious" organization, with full right to tax exemption (7)." Tax-exempt status is serious business.
In an article titled "The Religion of Democracy: Part II," Rudolph Dreikurs argues that humanism should be thought of as religious because of the form and content. "The new religion will probably be humanistic. It will be concerned with man and not with God." This "new religion" will have new principles, new rituals, and new symbols (16).
Those involved in the humanist religion also have their own ministers, and "minister" is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "one officiating or assisting the officiant in church worship." Harvard University has its own Humanist chaplain, Thomas Ferrick, who is also "one of the 34 full- and part-time chaplains that make up the United Ministry at Harvard and Radcliffe, and he also serves as executive director of the Humanist Association of Massachusetts’ local chapter (17)." In Auburn University’s Student/Faculty Directory, under "Auburn Pastors and Campus Ministers—Humanist," there is a Humanist Counselor for the students (7). The University of Arizona’s Student Handbook for 1990-1991 lists "Humanists" under the title "Religious Services" (7). These facts should only prove further that Humanism is a religion.
Now that humanism is understood, it is time to link humanism with present-day educational curriculum. Paul Vitz conducted research on the censorship of student’s textbooks, funded by the National Institute of Education, a part of the federal government, and came to the conclusion that they are strongly biased for the Secular Humanist worldview. "Whether one calls it secular humanism, enlightenment universalism, skeptical modernism, or just plain permissive liberalism, the bottom line is that a very particular and narrow sectarian philosophy has taken control of American education (18)." This seems to be a documented conclusion from an recognized institute, but yet it has not been fully discussed with the American public at large.
Humanists themselves have admitted to the fact that they use the classroom to further their religion. John J. Dunphy states in his A Religion for a New Age, "[T]he battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being (19)." Another man who calls himself a "Humanist minister", Charles Francis Potter, says:
"Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday-schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching? (20)"
He then continues, "So very Humanistic is modern education that no religion has a future unless it be Humanism (20)." These men obviously believe very strongly not only that humanism is being taught in American public schools, but also that it should overpower other religions.
John Dewey, who signed the Humanist Manifesto I, wrote a book, Education Today, in which he voices many opinions about education and how humanism should be implemented. "I believe that…it is the business of every one interested in education to insist upon the school as the primary and most effective instrument of social progress and reform…(21)". On page eighty he says, "We certainly cannot teach religion as an abstract essence. We have got to teach something as religion, and that means practically some religion." He also believes public education to be the vehicle by which this "deeper religion" is promoted (21).
Now that it has been documented that the humanist religion is being funneled into public schools, it is time to give a few examples of the things in school curriculum that are humanist in nature. First, homosexuality is being pushed as acceptable behavior to students. The schools are teaching that it should be looked at as positive to have "full sexual adjustment without any hang-ups caused by outdated religious concepts. And our schools are the main tool used to teach the young people this human freedom (6)." Not only is homosexuality taught as "okay," but they are also teaching the theory of evolution in full force. Teachers are not allowed to present any kind of argument for creationist theory; Jerry Bergman, Ph.D., states, "In fact, it is often considered inappropriate to criticize evolution, let alone present the creationist position (6)." This occurs without much argument, despite the fact that there are many books very critical of evolutionary theory "written by either evolutionists or by individuals who at least do not agree with the creationist perspective (6)." The biology textbook Of Pandas and People by Percival Davis and Dean H. Kenyon was included by the trustees in Plano, Texas, in the school curriculum, and humanist educators lost all pretense of "tolerance" because the book "acknowledges the abundance of design manifest in the natural world and thus reasonably postulates an intelligent Designer (7)." Homosexuality and evolution are just a couple examples of humanist perspective in the schools.
The logic these humanists use, that schools are the best place to push their beliefs, makes complete sense, even "falls in line" with some of the basic thoughts of sociological theory: that "no knowledge is value-neutral; no knowledge is free of presuppositions. All knowledge is rooted in the social structure in particular ways and reflects (even if indirectly) the particular interest of different sectors of the population (4)." Reasonably, this idea is also true for knowledge given to children in public schools. Even John Dewey said (as quoted earlier) that the teaching of religion is inevitable in schools, that "some religion" would have to be taught. Is this what the American Constitution allows? It is wrong, and very punishable, for public schools to advocate Christianity or to teach any of its beliefs, but the teaching of humanism’s beliefs remains untouched.
Humanists tend to label certain "unpopular" ideas (those that they do not agree with) as religious, and those they do support as non-religious. For instance, schools are free to teach "thou shalt not steal, lie, or murder" but not "thou shalt not commit adultery or take the name of God in vain." What is the difference between the two statements, which are both from the Ten Commandments, the most basic Western religious law? Other concepts taught presently that have a religious origin are "the goal of treating others as one would like to be treated, the need to take an occasional break from one’s work, to be balanced in all things, and the attempt to be fair to all people (6)." One of the biggest objective of liberals in recent years has been to insure equal rights for all people, yet this idea was adopte

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