It's that time for me, a time I had been looking forward to and dreading since she was born. Caitlin needs to be enrolled in public school to start Grade 0 next year.
I am lucky that because we live with my dad in a little house they bought a decade ago, in what was then a new development, and what has become quite a safe, and good neighbourhood, that the closest public school is also known as one of the best in this region.
Going through the 100's of forms ( some of them involving selling my soul into permanent bondage if I ever can not pay them) the inevitable question always comes up. The one I had been dreading and could have such a huge impact on her life.
Firstly it is asked " Religion?" hmmmm first instinct is "None", in which case it might most probably be assumed we don't care, or we are godless lazy creatures, who are really undiscovered Christians, as long as someone manages to convert us from lazing in bed all sunday morning instead of getting off our behinds and going to church. (You'd be surprised how many Christians around me actually think this)
Second option: Secular Humanist. If I am lucky I might find a teacher who knows what this entails in it's entirety. In that case I hope they tell me as well, as it is just a term I recently adopted because of the wiki page putting this in as part of the definition:
"Fundamental to the concept of Secular Humanism is the strongly held belief that ideology — be it religious or political — must be thoroughly examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith"
Ok so let's leave the "religion" question there. Now comes the Doozy. Next conundrum and the true test of my child's future influences lie in this easy little question:
" Do you have any objections to your child participating in any religious activities?"
If YES, please furnish reasons.
Now firstly I need to now what do these religious activities entail? Will there be forced bible reading, lively questioning? Will it be more moral or more religious? Will there be forced prayer and false piety?
What happens if I state Yes I object? Will she be rejected by her peers as strange and weird? Will she be rejected and targeted by teachers for the same reasons?
I've always said I will allow her to make up her own mind one day. but In my opinion I will be doing her an injustice to allow her to be subjected to the same kind of brainwashing that I was as a child and teen.In order to find one's own truth one needs to be educated on all the available options. Somehow I doubt this is done properly in most schools.
I wouldn't mind her receiving religious education that is educational, factual, and discusses the main religions and their similarities and differences. But I don't think I want her to take part in any form of worship activities.In her current school there is a huge preponderance of religious worship, they barely do secular nursery rhymes and stories, most of it is focussed on religious stories and songs.
I was never made aware of this before enrolling her, and obviously I am scared of the Primary school taking the same sneaky approach, or just assuming that this is okay with everyone, when it clearly isn't.
Maybe I must just included a whole letter stating more clearly what our beliefs are or rather aren't? Or finally take the time to thing and write down a kind of personal manifesto of beliefs which I can attach.
Or do you think I am making too much of this and should just let her be shepherded along with the other sheep and hope she doesn't get too brainwashed?
Oh and unlike the USA, South African schools can and do offer religious teachings as long as they are in line with this Draft policy on Education ( which I have heard is not enforceable as it is only a draft policy, and which many schools have been known to ignore)
Unfortunately my only other choice in school is much more openly Christian, even though they are also a public school. At least this one gives me a choice. The other automatically assume that one is a Christian.
What I wish for is not only Freedom of Religion in all governments and school, But Freedom FROM Religion