'Why I'm giving my son Islamic scripture classes'
FOR 30 minutes, once a week, kids at my son's primary school sit in the religious class chosen by their parents and read a story from the appropriate scriptures, and then discuss it as a group.
If you opt for no scripture, the kids sit somewhere else and read a children's book possibly about Pig the Pug and presumably also discuss the underlying messages in the book.
Some schools offer ethics classes, which I love the sound of because to me that could also be called "How not to be a d*ck", but for now, ours does not.
At our school, although there are probably a few Greek and Macedonian Orthodox followers, a Jew or two, some Hindus and possibly a Scientologist in the mix, currently the school only offers Anglican, Catholic and Islamic scripture classes every Tuesday morning.
Although I am baptised Church of England, and I did go to Christian and Catholic school's for most of my school life, my current faith could be described as fairly anti-organised religion.
Lately, the Catholics have been forced to hang their heads in shame for the atrocities inflicted upon innocent children which then the church swept under the musty carpet, denied outright or said it was acceptable in some circumstances. That's not a great religion in my eyes.
Islam is a terrifying force of evil if you watch the news or listen to Donald Trumpet (as my children aptly think he is called). This is really confusing for my seven-year-old son because some of his best friends are Muslims.
Luckily, at this early stage of his life, the biggest difference he sees is the food they eat from the canteen, the food they don't eat during Ramadan, that they don't do Christmas and that they are fond of the name Mohammed, which more than a few of them are named.
I don't know much about the Anglican faith except that it's seeded in Christianity so they are down with Jesus sandals, a couple of handfuls of commandments and a Virgin birth that we all really know is biologically a highly unlikely occurrence no matter how fervently that girl prayed.
Just because I am not jiggy with organised religion, as such,does not mean that I am without faith. In fact, I have quite strong spiritual beliefs that have raised many eyebrows in their unorthodox nature however faith is precisely as its name suggests. Something you believe without any proof.
My learnings in the Christian and Catholic schools I attended were mostly similar to the average school. I learned to read and write, I learned to despise maths and I learned that kids can be utter cruel arsewipes to each other, especially if someone is perceived as different.
I have grown up to believe that adults can too be utter cruel arsewipes to each other, also often if they perceive someone as different.
I do believe that many of the fundamental teachings of religion are for the greater good. They speak of respect, love, forgiveness, don't fornicate with a married person that's not yours and try not to covet your neighbour's donkey.
All in all, early scripture studies are fables with good morals and offer an insight to something that often sets countryman against countryman, country against country, and has the ability to set the world alight.
He asks often about Jesus, God, heaven and many other things that I have never really discussed and really don't know how to answer in light of my own feelings about religion.
I called the vice principal and asked if he could do one term of each scripture class, and she paused for a moment before asking me why, when I had previously not nominated any religion?
I explained that at this age, sitting in with his fellow students, learning a tiny snippet of their religions and beliefs, there is the possibility that he will have a greater acceptance of everyone's faith regardless of his own beliefs as he grows up.
I also said if they were considering picking up more religions Hindu and Buddhism would be my picks.
She laughed, but she agreed that we could do it although no one has requested this before. She also said she didn't think it was weird when I asked her because no matter how old you are you want the approval of the vice principal.
I would prefer he didn't join a seminary, or become a pastor or convert to Islam because these are not religious beliefs that I hold myself, but I think knowing what religion is and having a basic knowledge of how and why people have faith in something they cannot see is a step towards teaching understanding and compassion.
No matter what anyone's faith is, knowledge, understanding, and compassion are three things we should all believe in.
This originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.