Candidates talk religion in schools before Williamson looks at policy


Candidates talk religion in schools before Williamson looks at policy

In anticipation of the policy committee meeting on Monday night, school board candidates had a range of answers on religion in schools.

In anticipation of the policy committee meeting on Monday night, school board candidates had a range of answers on religion in schools at Thirsday’s Home Page Media Group and Williamson, Inc. candidate forum.

This year, the board will have to create a policy on how the subject is taught in schools. Right now, Williamson County has “The Study of Religious Holidays” policy on hand, which has been there since 2001. Tennessee’s new law also would require Williamson to give parents further access to curriculum.

Thursday night, each district’s candidates had the opportunity to share where they stood on various issues.

All of the District Three candidates said they found it valid to have religion taught in a historical context.

Candidate and former alderman Eliot Mitchell said he didn’t see a problem with having the subject taught and found it would help students when they entered into the working world. He said in order to understand society, students would have to have an understanding of the religion that makes up different parts of the world.

Teaching religion from a history standpoint is important,” he said. “I’ve made the comment before that understanding the diversity of the world and even our country is key. You have to be able to respect diversity to be successful in business as an adult. As far as allowing prayer, I think if it’s student led and student initiated, I am quite all right with that. My children did it, I did it. I don’t see a problem there, either.”

Candidate Christy Coleman said up front she was a big supporter of students’ First Amendment rights, and was a fan of events like See You at the Pole. She said she further didn’t have any problems with school clubs focused on a religion. Though, she said she would have a problem when it meant an instructor telling students what to believe, but didn’t believe it was an issue in Williamson.

“I think that’s what we call indoctrination,” she said. “Religion existed throughout history. You cannot teach history without teaching religion. You have to teach the high-level basics of what someone believes if you ever want to understand the ‘why’ in history. We want to teach our children to be very strategic and encourage them to be creative thinkers. So they need to be taught how to understand the ‘why.'”

Their competitor, Kim Little, said she 100 percent supported religion being taught in schools, but she said she was 100 percent against historical revisionism. She wants schools to teach it accurately. She said her children had no issues with any of it, because she taught her religion to them inside their home.

“You don’t have to dive deep into each religion to teach this to the children,” she said. “One other thing I hear constantly is that they give Christianity one day, and they give Islam two weeks. You don’t even have to be a Christian to know that it’s just not right. Fairness and the amount of time spent on each religion is necessary, and they need to make sure that they do that.”

This is part three in a series about issues and stances shared at the Home Page candidate forum.

Emily West covers Franklin and Williamson County government and schools for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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