Kids Can Leave School for Religious Instruction in Oregon

Apparently it’s completely legal for kids to leave school for an hour every week for religious instruction, and it has been for years.

The organization Portland Released-time Education Program, or PREP4Kids, runs these classes and it’s completely legal. Under Oregon law, students with parental consent can be excused from regular classes to take religious classes, according to Oregon Live.

Judy Busch, executive director of PREP4Kids, says that the classes are non-denominational. Oh, I guess that’s supposed to make it OK, then. Spoiler alert. It’s not.

There is a reason that the state funds schools and makes school until a certain age (18 in Oregon). It’s to make sure today’s kids grow up to be productive adults. To become productive adults, kids need to learn math and science and social studies. And not just lists of facts, but also how to reason and think and solve problems. What kids do not need and what the state does not have to sanction is magical thinking.

The thing is, I’m not completely against teaching about religion in public schools. I think there is value in comparing and contrasting different religions and the cultures that spawned them. And the Bible left an indelible mark on literature. It’s possible to learn about religion from an academic perspective. However, this type of rigorous study does not seem to be what students involved in PREP4kids are getting. According to the PREP4Kids website, “PREP4Kids is a non-profit ministry, which has operated in the greater-Portland area for 25 years. PREP4Kids’ mission is to help children/youth and their families find purpose and direction in life through the study of God’s Word.”

All of this might not be so bad if it didn’t actively undermine the teaching of actual facts. According to Oregon Live, third and fourth graders enrolled in the program learn about Noah’s Ark and all of the animals the ark housed. Including dinosaurs.

Even if an ark capable of holding a world’s worth of animals within its walls existed, it certainly did not include dinosaurs. Since, you know, dinosaurs and humans never coexisted. But sure, go ahead and take students out of school so their heads can be filled with nonsense.

I’m not arguing that kids shouldn’t be able to learn about their religion. But it’s not a replacement for actual education and shouldn’t be supplanting what limited time kids have in the classroom. It’s an after school activity. If parents want to send their kids to Bible camp or Sunday school that’s their prerogative. But it’s not appropriate for religious instruction to cram itself into our education system.

Photo Credit: army.arch via Flickr


Rachel B.
Rachel B.2 years ago

Interesting is correct. Although I do not agree with what the children are learning in Oregon, I do believe there is room for religion in education. One of the biggest issues this country is having in my opinion is do to the separation of church and state. No matter who we worship and how we worship, there is a "higher power" we feel accountable to (most of us) which respectfully explains why so many people disagree with Oregon's program. People behave much better when that is taken into consideration. It's the lack of respect for all religions that people in America keep forgetting to consider before they start these programs. If We respect one another's religious beliefs the whole world would be a better place.

Vicky P.
Vicky P.2 years ago


sharyn w.
sharyn w.2 years ago

First of all without stating the obvious objection is the term 'non-denominational' which usually applies to Western Christianity and all it's denominations like Baptist, Methodists, Episcopalian, Lutherans, Evangelicals, Pentecostals etc. I'm quite sure they're not covering Judaism, Islam and it's denominations and not even the Eastern Christianity religions (Orthodox)etc. So using the word 'non-denominational' should be 'Western Christian non-denominational' with exclusions like the Quakers and Roman Catholicism and more.

William Eaves
William Eaves2 years ago

Appalling, legalised superstition dresses as "education". Religion is the antithesis of education.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

Additionally, the video had a journalist was asking people there in a town of all things called Defiance, Ohio, what they thought about the issues in the election against Obama and Democrats and I was ashamed that these people represented the level of thinking they did in my home state. They would make these horrendous GOP pumped, Tea Party pumped, Fox News pumped, anti-SOOOSHALLISTs claims about what was going on and what the opposite side stood for, yet when pressed by the journalist to answer questions supporting their claims, none of them knew a damned thing. You could tell from the inability to speak credibly in English, was informative of how uninformed they were, in many cases how illiterate they were, how bigoted and racist they were, and were merely echoing the rhetoric without substance of the conservative right.

Listen to what these people are propping up as reasons for or against something.

It was scary to realize that people in Ohio, as well as other places, really think like this. I don’t think Ohio is alone in having people who think like this or, who don’t think like they don’t think.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

You’d walk into gas stations, restaurants and the like and knew the tone of things, socially, politically, and intellectually, because of how twangy the country music was that was being played. You’d know right away that your behavior, lack of accent, etc., would mark you as someone from “out of town” and as being “different” and therefore suspicious.

I also knew of their dark side. I remember taking care of nationally known Union boss who was also known for his Mafia ties after he had open heart surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. (as an aside, this man, Jackie Presser was so obese that we actually had to have maintenance weld two beds together for him to lay on in the ICU post-op). I also took care of Art Modell the owner of the Cleveland Browns.

I also recently saw a video, year before last of a Rally in a small town in Ohio for Romney, where Romney was on stage with the former lead singer Meat Loaf, who performed embarrassingly (Romney looked like he wanted to exist stage left as fast as possible before mainstream news outlets provided coverage for it. I can still find a link to that YouTube video if you like.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

During those same travel periods I noticed how lack of education in outlying towns affected some people with a conservative narrow-mindedness mostly due to lack of knowledge and exposure to other ideas, and fear, towns existing basically because a corporation had set up there and an economy grew around it. To some degree we are talking about farmers, ranchers, people who worked in stores, union people, unskilled labor, skilled labor and etc., with many towns overtly regressive in their mentality towards education, and knowledge, who are affected.

The opposite side of the coin were the college towns Athens, Columbus, Wilmington, Dayton, Kent, Antioch, Toledo, Akron, Cleveland, where the mix was town folks as well as large student populations from all over the country and sometimes even from various parts of the globe. The influence of the colleges on these towns, was thankfully present and aimed at higher education, science etc. In many ways in these towns it was "who you knew" not "what you knew" that made a difference in your life. Yet I want to praise unions before someone accuses me of denigrating them for making sure people got decent wages, benefits packages, normal workweeks and time and a half for overtime.

Michael T.
Michael T.2 years ago

LOL Linda, I knew the moment I hit the send button on my post, that I should have framed and qualified my statement with addition information about Ohio and Ohioans. Like I said I had grown up in Ohio and traveled it extensively from North to South, a little less East to West and even lived in the college town of Wilmington (SW of Columbus) for a year as well as lived in Cuyahoga Country, mostly in the Cleveland area and suburbs. I also spent a fair amount of time in Athens, and because of my travel habits while living in Wilmington I also visited Columbus quite a bit, less so with Cinncinnati.

I met some really wonderful people in Ohio all across the state in my travels even people who had less of an education than myself and in some of the more backward areas. I also met lots of intelligent people, educated or not in those same areas. It’s been my luck to run into kind caring people throughout my travels, which was partly due to being a musician and an artist and partly due to my natural curiosity and wanderlust.

Antonio Barros
Antonio Barros2 years ago

More Care2 propaganda. Our education system is totally broken, with kids learning things that will have absolutely zero significance. Our system of educating our youth was established during the industrial revolution to help people get used to the totally unnatural system of "work" that most here in the US agree to everyday. Get kids familiar with the 9-5 at an early age, and then it will be easier to convince them that this is the natural flow of life later on. It's absolute bullshit.

Education isn't about filling a bucket. It's about lighting a fire.

Oh, by the way, I live in Oregon. :o)

Carla van der Meer

Great, so eventually there will be more dumb people in Oregon who believe the world is 6000 years old and an invisible man in the shy dropped us here, followed by some broad meeting a talking snake??? The genera IQ can actually be heard dropping like a bomb. Good luck folks, I'm sure your kids will be grateful when it comes time to try and get into college. Hopefully for their sake there are still lots of Mc Jobs around. FOOLS!