Religious background could offer link to state of education

Monday, March 3, 2008 | 12:02 p.m. CST; updated 7:38 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Rose M. Nolen

It has been an old-fashioned winter. Long and cold. Actually, though, I liked the winters of my childhood better. In those days, we had winter pleasures designed for the season. Hauling out the sleds was a big deal. Enjoying snowball fights and building a snowman were seasonal delights for young and old alike. I spent most of this winter just trying to stay warm. I guess I’m still fuming over the fact that to take care of my basic daily needs I have to get the car out and risk life and limb to get where I need to be. Fun? Well, forget that.

Fortunately, I always have projects to keep me busy. One of my interests is world religions. I first developed a curiosity about religion as a young child. Like a lot of kids, I began Sunday School at an early age and started going to church. The problem is, I am an attentive listener and have the ability to retain information for long periods of time. I am also an avid reader and read the Bible before I started school. It wasn’t long before I realized that the words I heard spoken were often different from the words I had read. This caused a dilemma that took me a long time to resolve.

False teaching can be misleading

We lived in a small town and were denied use of the library because of racial discrimination. It wasn’t until we moved to the city and I was able to read books on theology and later to work at a seminary that I was able to develop my own belief system. This experience left me wary of religion because I understood how easily people can be misled by false teachings.

I understand why religion is at the base of so many wars. I think the founders did us a real favor when they made separation of church and state the law of the land. Christians, of all people, should understand this. That’s why I think nothing is more tragic than the belief that the two belong together. In the first place, there are as many ways to interpret the Scriptures as there are people to do it, (not to mention the other religious texts). Islamic fanatics are not the only members of world religions to play fast and loose with tenets of their faith. Christians have had our share.

. A better idea is for parents and grandparents to get in charge of their households, which they are failing to do. Relying on public figures, whether they are television evangelists or sports and entertainment figures, to set moral examples for children is a form of child neglect. Allowing children to grow up undisciplined because parents fear that the child will dislike them, as far as I’m concerned, constitutes the worst parenting possible.

Who should fund education?

A good friend and I are in constant disagreement on the subject of funding education. He, rightly so, strongly thinks that children represent the future of our country and should be provided with the best tools possible to carry out their responsibilities. I agree with his argument. However, I have to insist that I don’t trust some parents, teachers and school administrators to use sound judgment to help students acquire the necessary skills and the discipline to use them wisely. It could be that I encounter the wrong types of people. But most of the parents, grandparents, teachers and school administrators that I hear speak are so enamored, fascinated and beguiled by young children that they behave as if at any moment they will fall down on their knees and kiss their feet. Naturally, none of these misguided adults is willing to take responsibility when these little angels grow into monsters because of dubious parental and teaching skills.

I was invited to speak at the Missouri Department of Corrections last week, and I couldn’t help thinking about all the young people locked up behind those bars and barbed wire fences, simply because nobody ever told them that they were not free to do whatever they pleased. And it is inconceivable to me that so many young prisoners come from families who profess to be Christians and who sit in pews every Sunday and never hear a word about their responsibilities toward their children.

We live in a country that prides itself on the fact that the government has no right to go into anyone’s home and tell them how to raise their children. My question is should the taxpayers (the government) have to pay for the failure of homes and schools to produce productive individuals?

Perhaps, instead of seeking political and social leaders that are good Christians, maybe we should look for people who have basic common sense and sound judgment. Frankly, I think we would be better served.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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