I live in the south. I recently saw a display listing three values posted on a wall in my daughter's new school that disturbed me greatly. However, I know that the word "faith" is vague enough that I probably don't have much ground to stand on. However, it really bothers me. Not only does it bother me because it veiled attempt to interject religion, but I am against the idea of learning about the world through "Faith." I want to bring it to the attention of the principal and the superintendent with the hope that they will remove it. 


Has anyone else dealt with a similar situation? If so, can you tell me what happened? 

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Asking what exactly they meant by it first would have been a good idea (I wrote a letter before I read your response). Although I don't think they'd be able to replace the value in the display even if they were willing (which I doubt) because it appeared to be a store-bought display that couldn't easily be altered, but it asking about it would have been a nice non-confrontational way to address the issue. Thanks. Good idea for the future.

I must say though that I have a hard time with the word "faith" even when we aren't talking about religion. I think in a school they should be stressing "reason" and "critical thinking" not faith. While some people may use the term to mean they have faith in something based on some evidence I don't actually see that as a virtue or a value to be emphasized in school.
I sent a letter to the principal and copied the acting superintendent to ask them to remove the display. I doubt they will. However, I hope that my letter at least causes them to stop and think about it. And to remember that not only are there families in the school that aren't Christian (difficult concept for most to understand in the South) but that there are atheist families here too (OK we might be the only ones, but still...)

Here is the body of the letter I sent:

My child is a student at your elementary school. I am writing to request that you remove a display from the wall in your school. I believe it is an inappropriate display for a public school. It is a display of three words, which are presumably values endorsed by your school. One of the values listed is “Faith.” I believe that faith is an inappropriate value for a public school to endorse.

While it may not have been your intent, it appears that your school is endorsing religious faith. I believe it is inappropriate for a public school to endorse religious faith is because it can make those students and families who do not believe in religious faith feel unwelcome in your school system.

Furthermore, I do not believe faith should be taught as an acceptable method of processing information. The foundation of knowledge that our children need to learn in elementary school is that the only way to understand anything is through the scientific method, which requires evidence and not faith.

Please remove this display as soon as possible. Please also examine your other displays and practices to ensure that all students are in a welcoming environment that encourages students to examine the world through the scientific method.

Thank you very much for your time and understanding.
Tell them to remove it because it violates the separation of church and state, if there's anything explicitly religious in there at all. And if they don't, you can take it to court. I would.

My daughter's teachers and principal are going to hate me because they will not be doing anything religious in their schools for the entire duration of her staying there, at least. I will make sure of it, with or without legal action.
Thanks. I think mine are going to hate me too. :) I was hoping to not cause too many waves this early on, but...

It is a very ambiguous display. It's not blatantly religious. I doubt I would have any legal leg to stand on. But it is subtly religious and in any case I don't see "faith" as a valid value. I can't remember anymore what the other values were that were listed. It was a display of 3 or 4 values.

It wasn't something they would have selected the values. It was a store-bought display. (someone else suggested asking them to replace the "faith" value.)

Although I forget the other values, I remember thinking that they were fine. Even if they don't mean religious faith (which I think they do but don't think they will admit) I don't think it is appropriate for a school. I think that schools should teach critical thinking, not faith. I told them as much in a letter. I wrote it to the principal and copied the acting superintendent. I doubt they'll do anything about but I was hoping to at least get them thinking.

I also complained to the school about the pledge for 5 yr olds. I was brushed off because it's "school law." Turns out they are required by law to have it said in my state, but the kids can opt out. I said told her that I didn't think a 5 yr old could reasonably assess the situation to be able to opt out. I was told, oh don't worry the teacher will explain what the pledge means. GREAT - Just what I wanted - the almost certain Baptist or Methodist right-winged teacher explaining how wonderful the pledge is.

I tried to talk to my daughter about the pledge, but being 5, she didn't understand. I told her that she could say it, skip "under god" like mommy, or not say it like Daddy. She said she is going to say the whole thing and informed me that she believes in god. (but being 5, she also believes in fairies and vampires). I just think the whole thing normalizes god believers and makes atheists seem like the weirdos. And those "weirdos" are her parents.

So hate that sending my child to public school there should be so many religious concerns.
Today I had an opportunity to enter the room in my daughter's school where the Faith display was held. I was thrilled to see that it had been removed! There was just an empty hook on the wall where it had once hung. I don't know for sure if my letter was the reason, but I'm glad it's gone.  (I wrote a cordial anonymous letter requesting that it be removed and my reasons why. The reason that I left my name off was because I figured that it wasn't actually illegal. And so, in the end it would be up to them. I figured there was no point in making too big of a deal about something that I couldn't really do much about. And I hated to drag my daughter into it when she was just starting kindergarten. So, I just wrote an anonymous letter with my reasons for the request.) I'm very happy it's down!
I hope it's really gone - not just moved to a different location.




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