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Say NO to Released Time Religious Education

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Dear TOL member and Richland Residents,

Currently there is a move in the Richland 2 County School District to introduce into our school system Released Time Religious Education. This is a program being pushed by a segment of the Presbyterian Church in order to "reach children who never set foot in a church."

Their proposal would see parents opting to have their children bused to a near-by Church during public school time to learn more about the Bible and Christianity during school hours. The proponents of this endeavor are suggesting that this would "upgrade" our school system and would provide a stronger moral and behavior base within the school community and improve the academics.

We strongly object to children being removed from the public school system, during study-hall, arts, sports or music or any other school offering in order to be placed in a religious environment. Our public school system allows children of all religions, nationalities, colors and ethnic backgrounds to study, learn, play and integrate with one another, fostering understanding and cooperation in a multicultural American community. For those families who wish to offer their children a particular education - religious, ethnic or otherwise - there are parochial school and after-school opportunities which allow for this to happen that have a long extant history here in Columbia and throughout the United States.

Offering Released Time Religious Education will we believe, build barriers among our students in Richland County. It will disenfranchise those not of the Christian faith who will feel their sense of "otherness" even more keenly in what already is a community with a large Christian ethos. Offering Released Time Religious Education during "non-academic" times will deprive our children of broadening their understanding of the world through the skills and intellect provided by the arts and sports, inhibiting them from the well-rounded personalities we would like to see in our adults of the future. Offering Released Time Religious Education, while legal, contradicts, we believe, the intent of our Founding Fathers who advocated a separation of Church and State.

Rather, we call upon our school systems, throughout Columbia, and in Richland 2, to continue to work on the excellence of their standards in academics, arts, sports, behaviors and morals as befits any school system, by constantly assessing its curriculum, staff and school culture.

For those of you who are interested in attending next meetings which will hear community input for-and-against Released Time Religious Education, they were going to have a legal briefing on May 9th and have a first reading of the proposal on May 24th at their meeting. Please contact the TOL office (info@tolsc.org) and we will keep you in the loop as more details clarified.

If you believe as we do, and object to Released Time Religious Education, we ask that you sign onto this important letter of objection to be passed onto the School Board.


Linda Joseph - Rabbi

Rick Cohn - President

Alan Brill - Vice President

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