Trinidad and Tobago Humanist Association

tt.humanist :: forum :: commentary :: 2016 :: education

Bigotry has no place in education

19 March 2016 • 364 words

Although the parents of the student in the Naparima Boys College controversy have denied being atheists, it is apparent that the teacher felt secure in making threatening remarks about homosexuals and non-believers because this kind of bigotry is considered acceptable by many people in the school and the wider society.

Disparaging the sixth-form student to a class, the teacher reportedly stated that "The beginning of the story is he has two parents who should not be parents, they are screw ups, they are atheists, they do not believe in God. You see me, give me a gun and I will fix all the problems in the world. I will shoot both of them first and then their offspring."

That the teachers thinks atheists and homosexuals deserve to be killed reveals the kind of fanaticism religious beliefs can engender in otherwise normal persons, which has been acted out most prominently by jihadists around the world and, in 1990, right here in Trinidad and Tobago.

As an organisation which has a high proportion of atheists and agnostics, we must note that the teacher's view that persons who do not believe in God are unfit to be parents is not borne out by the research.

While there are no data for T&T, surveys in other societies show that atheist parents, far more than religious ones, typically impart to their children at least one of the virtues listed in the national motto: tolerance. Indeed, whereas religious parents invariably indoctrinate their children into their beliefs, atheist parents mostly leave it up to their children to choose their own paths and often actively expose them to different belief systems.

Although their children usually end up non-religious, that is probably because atheist parents tend to teach their children to think for themselves and to be ethical in their choices. That makes it less likely that they will adhere to religious beliefs or religion-based morality.

As for outcomes, it is worth noting that, in T&T's jails all religions are over-represented or on par with the general populace, except Hindus and Presbyterians who are under-represented. Non-Conformists, as the prison authorities label inmates who profess no religion, make up seven percent of the inmates.

T&T Humanist Association

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