Religionism and Schooling
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Religionism and Schooling

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A look at how the dominant religion has historically created White, patriarchal, heterosexual, anthropocentric norms, which are perpetuated in public schools. To be clear, this is not about......

A look at how the dominant religion has historically created White, patriarchal, heterosexual, anthropocentric norms, which are perpetuated in public schools. To be clear, this is not about questioning one's faith or the messages of Jesus. This is a critical look at how Christianity moved into and maintains dominance, especially in how it separates people from each other and from nature.

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  • 1. RELIGIONISM & SPIRITUALITY IN EDUCATION Kurt Love, Ph.D. Central Connecticut State University
  • 2. HISTORY OF RELIGIOUS COLONIZATION, CONFLICT & ABUSE Christians & Indigenous Europeans (Pagans) Christians & Jews (Crusades) Christians & American Indians (Missionaries & Inquisition) Christians & Christians (Witch Trials & Burnings) Christians & Muslims Catholic Priests & Child Molestation
  • 3. HISTORY OF RELIGIOUS COLONIZATION, CONFLICT & ABUSE Atheist USSR Muslims & Jews (Palestine & Israel) Muslims & Hindus (India) Muslims & Buddhists (India) Chinese & Tibetans Colonial & Post-Colonial Africa Scientism
  • 5. CREATING WHITE SUPREMACY Perhaps, the most obvious use of race is identifying a Middle Eastern group of people as looking European. Artwork has consistently created Jesus, his parents, and all of the apostles as White. Rarely, are other images offered. The ongoing message is that White people are the prime examples of spiritual righteousness.
  • 7. CREATING PATRIARCHY Women are closer to nature than men; Nature is wild, chaotic, and uncontrollable Therefore... Women are wild, chaotic, and uncontrollable Adam & Eve
  • 8. CREATING PATRIARCHY Salome, Herod, and the beheading of John the Baptist Salome and her sisters and the “Dance of the Seven Veils” A dance based on a myth about Ishtar, Babylonian goddess. In both Gospels of Mark and Matthew Salome (step-daughter to King Herod) danced seductively (as asked by her mother) for the king while he was intoxicated and feasting. He was so aroused by her dancing that he told her that she could have whatever she wanted. Salome (as directed by her mother) asked for the head of John the Baptist (who called their marriage unlawful)
  • 9. CREATING PATRIARCHY Mary Magdalene & Jesus when Jesus arises from the dead and refuses her to touch him Gregory the Great (591 AD) is credited as the first to describe her as a converted prostitute. “Noli me tangere” is often the reference used to argue why women cannot be priests. “Magdalene” is a name that means “high tower,” which has been interpreted as potentially a high priestess. Much speculation of her as being Jesus’ life partner/wife perhaps even bearing their child(ren).
  • 10. MAINTAINING PATRIARCHY A mass killing of women during the “Burning Times” in Europe & the US Removal of a religion where women are spiritual leaders and the central spirit is seen as feminine. Origin story: Goddess comes into her own, splits her self to have a male half who governs the physical plane (physical universe), and we are all aspects of the Goddess with the support of the God.
  • 11. SHIFTING ROLES Despite the current Pope maintaining that women cannot be spiritual leaders as Catholics, Many other Christian religions are changing to have women take on leadership roles. Does having a strictly paternal God still promote sexism?
  • 13. CREATING HETERONORMATIVITY Only heterosexual relationships after marriage in the church with the intention of bearing children who will also be part of the church is recognized. Any other intended relationship is not seen as legitimate Other sexualities are seen by the church as diseases that can be cured.
  • 14. SHIFTING ROLES First openly gay Episcopal Bishop - Gene Robinson (2003) Retired in January 2013 citing death threats and stress over the worldwide controversy. Unitarian churches
  • 16. INDIGENOUS RELIGIONS & SPIRITUALITIES Pre-date Christianity Pre-date Islam Pre-date Judaism Earth-based spiritualities Found in all parts of the world
  • 17. A BRIEF HISTORY OF RELIGIOUS PEOPLES Earth-Based Cultures Tens of Thousands of Years of Earth- Centered Approach Christian Cultures Indigenous First Nations Africans Aborigines Genocide Enslavement Assimilation Focus on colonization, Western globalization, technology, and profit above relationship with Earth Colonization
  • 18. SHIFT AWAY FROM VALUING NATURE Joseph Campbell stated that we can see the movements of a society based on the highest buildings in an area.
  • 19. Shift Away FromValuing Nature Gods and Goddesses communicate through the actions of nature in the forests Gods and Goddesses communicate through the actions of nature and in growth/ harvest of crops God (no Goddess) & salvation are found only through Jesus. The Devil resides in nature.
  • 20. Shift Away FromValuing Nature
  • 21. Shift Away FromValuing Nature Government provides policies of morality aimed solely at rights of humans Transcontinental corporations heavily influence governments and national policies through trade agreements creating the greatest negative impact on the global environment
  • 22. Shift Away FromValuing Nature
  • 23. EUROPEAN COLONIZERS & AMERICAN INDIANS Clash of two peoples with two different religious interactions with nature & “ecological/technological selves” Europeans often claimed that God favored the death of the “savages.” Europeans viewed nature as the source of evil. European Colonizers: Christian, Nature for profit, land ownership, enclosure, capitalist mindset/values American Indians: Nurturance, reciprocity, sustainable mindset/values Genocide: From up to 18 million in 1490’s to 190,000 in 1890, up to 200 million Indians died in the Americas Land Domination
  • 24. EUROPEAN COLONIZERS & WEST AFRICANS Clash of two peoples with two different religious interactions with nature & “ecological/technological selves” Europeans built slave castles that included a chapel, usually adjacent to the commander’s quarters. European Colonizers: Nature for profit, land ownership, enclosure, capitalist mindset/ values West Africans: Nurturance, reciprocity, sustainable mindset/values Slavery: About 12 million captured and/or killed, 645,000 brought to the U.S., nearly 4 million slaves in the 1860 census Domination for profit via capitalism
  • 25. CHRISTIANS & EARTH-BASED SPIRITUALITIES Movement out of nature and into “Human” as separate from nature Nature is where Satan resides Technology is Godly & righteous Christian missionaries with indigenous peoples globally, views on nudity Killing of at least tens of thousands of “witches” from 1400s-1600s Continued persecution of paganism, neopaganism, and Wicca
  • 26. SCIENCE AS THE NEW DOMINANT “RELIGION” Galileo Galilei “The Universe is a clock” Johannes Kepler “The Universe is a machine” Francis Bacon “For you have but to follow and as it were hound nature in her wanderings...Neither ought a man to make scruple of entering and penetrating into these holes and corners, when the inquisition of truth is his whole object” Thomas Hobbes “Nature is dead, stupid matter” René Descartes “We can be the masters and possessors of nature”
  • 28. CHRISTIANITY & EARTH-BASED SYMBOLOGIES Colonizing and Co-opting Indigenous Spiritualities
  • 30. PAGAN & CHRISTIAN (SECULAR)HOLIDAYS Yule/Saturnalia Dec 20-22 - Birth of the Sun, Winter Solstice Christmas Dec 25 - Birth of the Son of God Imbolc Feb 1 - First Signs of Spring Groundhog’s Day/ Candlemas Feb 2 - Predict the remaining length of Winter, Mary’s purification ceremony Ostara March 20-22 - Spring Equinox (return of life) Easter Sunday after Passover (based on number of moons) - Jesus’ resurrection (life after death), celebration of spring (rebirth) Beltane May 1 - The union of the Goddess & God May Day Spring festivals & devotion to Virgin Mary Midsummer/Litha June 20-22 - Summer Solstice (height of the sun’s power) Memorial Day & 4th of July Celebrations of summer Lughnassadh Aug 1 - First Harvest/ Grains Fair Season Mid Aug - Early October Harvest Fairs in towns and larger regions of the country Mabon Sep 20-22 - Second Harvest/Fruit of the Vine Fair Season Late Aug - Early October Harvest Fairs in towns and larger regions of the country Samhain Oct 31/Nov 1 - Connect with ancestors Day of the Dead/All Saints Day/ All Souls Day Nov 1/Nov 2 - Connect with ancestors
  • 31. CHRISTMAS ORIGINS & SYMBOLISM Christ-Mass Day Roman festival of Saturnalia on Dec 25 on the Julian Calendar. Most popular holiday of the year. Connected with the winter solstice or “birth of the sun.” Saturn is a central Roman god that represented prosperity, wisdom, and time. Romans role-played the reversal of the powerful and poor, drinking, gambled, revelry, and feasted throughout the city. Origin of Santa Claus: The Celtic Holly King (one of the two faces of the Green Man...the other being the Oak King) who comes into power to coax the return of the sun until the summer solstice. In Norse/Germanic traditions, Odin would ride through the sky with his horses and hounds called the Wild Hunt on the eve of the winter solstice. Kissing under mistletoe: Druids honored mistletoe as a holy plant because of its healing properties (the poisonous version did not exist there). When enemies met under mistletoe, they were expected to stop fighting. This led to exchanging kisses to promote friendship and goodwill.
  • 32. CHRISTMAS ORIGINS & SYMBOLISM Yule & Wreaths Yule: A Germanic festival for three nights starting on midwinter eve (winter solstice eve). King Haakon I of Norway reschedules Yule celebrations to match those of Christmas. Burning of the Yule Log: Druids believed that the sun stood still for 12 days. Burning a log of wood to coax the sun to return and grow in power so that a new cycle of crops can grow and be harvested. Yule-tide: A period of time from about mid-November to the beginning of January (what we now call Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day) Wreath: Represents the circle of the year. During winter solstice, Celts would light wreaths on fire and send them rolling down a hill to symbolize the solar cycle and to coax the sun to return.
  • 33. CHRISTMAS ORIGINS & SYMBOLISM Christmas Tree Decorating coniferous trees which were seen as magical beings because they were able to stay green throughout the cold months when everything else seemed to die off for the winter. Jeremiah 10:2-4 in the King James Bible says “ Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them. For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not.
  • 34. OTHER HOLIDAY ORIGINS Valentine’s Day Roman festival of cleansing and purification called Februa, which is the origin of the month February. Februus, the Roman God of purification. (The word “fever” comes from the same root and means to cleanse.) Roman feast of Lupercalia (Feb 13-15). Honored the Roman god, Faunus, and goddess, Fauna, of the enchanted forest. A feast focusing on cleansing, healing, and fertility. Drunk men would hit women with animal hides that they just killed. They believed this made them fertile because Romulus and Remus did similarly. There was a lottery, and the couple would exist for the duration of the festival...or longer if things worked out.
  • 35. OTHER HOLIDAY ORIGINS Valentine’s Day Emperor Claudius II killed two men named Valentine on Feb 14 in two different years (3rd Century). A priest with that name was marrying young men and women, but Claudius wanted them to be soldiers first, so he had Valentine killed. Pope Gelasius I (494 AD) abolished Lupercalia and possibly replaced it with the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Normans also celebrated Galatin’s Day at the same time of year. Galatin seems to mean “lover of women.” Cupid (Roman) or Eros (Greek) had two arrows: one of gold that promoted deep feelings of desire, and one of lead that promoted deep feelings of aversion.
  • 36. EASTER Germanic goddess Ostara (Eostre) was a focus of Spring festivals around the time of the equinox. She is a goddess who attracted children and showed them magic in nature. Her familiar animal spirit was a hare. Eggs represent birth, in general, but there is a deeper connection bringing them together. The story focuses on a bird that dies, and the children that were with her asked for her to bring the bird back to life. She brings to life a rabbit that hatches from the egg, and she puts the rabbit in the moon to be safe from predators.
  • 37. ANGELS From Latin “angelus” and Greek “angelos” meaning divine messenger. Many pre-Christian and pre-Judea cultures (Sumerian, Babylonian, Persian, and Egyptian) have angels or very similar concepts, although they may not use the same words Norse: Valkyries Celts: Faeries Buddhist: Devas or Dharmapalas Hindu: Devas Archangels Gabriel, Raguel, Michael, Raphael, Remiel, Sariel, Urel and Lucifer are all of Hebrew origin
  • 38. ORIGINS OF SATAN Lucifer, fallen archangel who sat by the side of God in Heaven. Christians tied imagery to pagan god by demonizing of the Father God of Nature as part of the colonization process. Many religions do not recognize a central source of evil or have a “Hell,” but there is usually an understanding of the balance between light and dark dualities (Yin and Yang, for instance). Many cultures have trickster figures Norse culture has Loki whose central role tends to be to use trickery to test the will, intentions, and arrogance of the Aesir Gods and Goddesses Hel, daughter of Loki, is the ruler of Hel, which is not a place of torment and torture. Rather, it is home to spirits that pass on and have not yet returned to Midgard (Earth)
  • 39. HALLOWEEN Samhain, also called “Hallow’s Eve” became Halloween The day comes from Samhain, Celtic day of connecting with ancestors and spirits. The night of Oct 31st is seen as the most powerful night to connect with spirits because the “veil” between the physical and spiritual planes does not exist. Christians mocked the day by wearing masks and pretending to be spirits who walked the earth. Others wore masks in order to make themselves anonymous from unwelcomed spirits. Samhain is the highest of the holidays to Pagans. The day also honors the Goddess in her most aged state, the crone. The crone is often also a source of mockery and belittled in mainstream representations. The crone aspect is one of three major aspects: maiden, mother, and crone. The crone is the wisest of the three, with the strongest magickal abilities, and knowledge of transition from one life to the next.
  • 40. ADDITIONAL IMAGERY Candles were used for magical/ energy work before Christianity. Cleansing a space with incense was a common practice before Christianity. Wearing robes was common practice for religious leaders in Europe and the Middle East before Christianity. The cross is a symbol that pre-dates Christianity. It is used almost universally to represent the four cardinal directions: north, east, south, and west. This is significant because the collection of these directions represents all of where life exists, and focusing on them can heighten energy and healing work, especially.
  • 41. Religionism in the Schools
  • 42. Pledge of Allegiance
  • 43. Francis Bellamy 1892: Bellamy, a socialist, writes the Pledge of Allegiance. He wanted to include the word “equality,” but the state superintendents reject it because they oppose education for women or African Americans
  • 44. Patriotism or Propaganda? “Under God” was added in 1954 as a way to deny communism “In God We Trust” added to money in 1955 for the same reason
  • 45. School Vacation Heavily focused on Christian calendar Days off always include: Christmas Eve, Christmas, Good Friday Days off sometimes include: Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah, Passover Days off not intentionally included: Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan), Hijra (Islamic New Year), Eid al-Adha, Milad Un Nabi (Mohammed’s Birthday) Chinese New Year Pagan Sabbats: Those during the school year are Feb 1 (Imbolc), Spring Equinox (Ostara), May 1 (Beltane), Fall Equinox (Mabon), and Oct 31/Nov 1 (Samhain) Soyal (Hopi & Zuni New Year’s Day - Dec 22), many other tribal festivals/holidays
  • 46. History Romanticization and “Hero-ification” of: Christian missionaries Explorers Conquistadors The 1st Thanksgiving
  • 47. Music The focus on Eurocentric music allows for the inclusion of Christian pieces Christmas caroling throughout the school
  • 48. Science Although science does overtly tend to be at odds with Christian Creationism, science also the potential to make all other origin stories marginalized. By focusing entirely on the efforts of human inquiry/ observation, science class can reinforce materialistic relationships with an objectified, mechanized nature.
  • 49. English If the canon includes references to religion, they tend to emphasize Christianity Christmas Carol Romeo & Juliet Scarlet Letter Hunchback of Notre Dame The Crucible Greek and Roman “Mythology”
  • 50. Health Reproduction, Abstinence-only, or not included Parents can opt their child out of health class for religious reasons