Religion in Public Schools: Can Teachers Talk About Religion in Public Schools?

As many of you already know, I have a day job. While I love writing, I also have a calling as a teacher. So, from Monday-Friday I teach math to Junior High students. Plus, I coach girls’ volleyball and basketball.

I am also a man of faith. As a man of faith, I have seen a lot of controversy over the years surrounding the issue of Christian faith in the public school system.

While the situation is not as dire as many Christians believe it is, there are some legal boundaries to how I can share my faith with my students or fellow teachers. There are plenty of people who believe faith has no place in such a setting.

Many non-Christians look at discussions of faith with students as a form of indoctrination or even brain washing. To be fair, there’s also plenty of Christians that believe sharing information about other religions is just as bad.

But, does faith have a place in the public school setting?

Faith is Lived

To answer the question about faith’s place in public school, it’s important to understand a vital point of faith. Faith is not something you can turn off and on at a moment’s notice. This is true for any religion. If you have faith in something, this is part of you.

To ask a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. to turn their faith off in certain situations is like asking them to remove part of themselves for that time. Faith is something that’s lived, day-to-day.

As a Christian, everything I do should be tested against my faith in God. This means I shouldn’t be doing things that go against God’s will, but it also means I should be doing the things God tells me to do in my daily life.

When I enter the halls of the school, I can’t just stop being a Christian. I may not be able to declare my belief’s over the loud speaker or anything, but my Christianity should show in everything I do.

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How Do I Share My Faith as a Teacher?

Like I said, as a public-school teacher, there are limitations to how I can share my faith with those around me. This doesn’t mean my faith doesn’t have an influence over my interactions. Just because I can’t teach a class around Christianity doesn’t mean I can’t share Christ.

Sharing My Faith Through my Actions

One important way I can show my faith is through how I act. As a Christian, my actions should reflect my beliefs.

How I talk to students and school personnel is one aspect of this. I share my faith through kindness towards those around me. Rather than belittling people I’m struggling with or having a disagreement with, I share my faith by treating them how I would like to be treated in a misunderstanding.

Luke 6:31- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As a Christian, I can share my faith by being patient with those around me. Yes, there will be struggles with difficult people, or just bad days in general. I can still show kindness and forgiveness.

I can still help those around me who are struggling.

Ephesians 4:32- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

I can also pay attention to the needs of those around me. Being a teacher gives me a great opportunity to see people in different walks of life. It’s very hard to not notice when a student is going through a difficult time.

As a Christian, it is my duty to help where I can in these situations. While faith does not come through works, our faith can be made evident in works.

James 2:14-17- What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works. Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled”, without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

By my daily actions, I can be an example of faith to those around me. I can also bring glory to God in these actions. My daily actions should show a difference so that people want to know more about my faith.

1 Peter 2:12- Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Keeping my Thoughts Pure

Another way I can show my faith is in what I allow to enter my mind. I choose what I watch, read, listen to, etc. for entertainment or enlightenment. If I make a point of choosing only those things that will edify me and glorify God, these choices will be evident to those around me.

Philippians 4:8- Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

By filling my mind with these things that are good, it will be easier to control my tongue so that only good things come out.

Being Honest About my Faith

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While I cannot use my class to preach the gospel to my students, I can be honest about my beliefs. I can tell those around me that I am a Christian.

Matthew 10:32- Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my father who is in heaven.

I can also answer questions one-on-one, sharing answers about my faith with those who ask. As long as I am respectful (as all Christians should be) I do have options to share my faith with others.

Also, I can share Christian principles when I teach. Once again, I can’t spend the class time preaching, but I can share Christian ideas where they fit into the lesson. The trick is to be respectful, and willing to share all worldviews, not just mine in teaching settings.

Praying for Those Around Me

One of the most powerful things I can do as a Christian is to pray for my students and fellow teachers. This doesn’t have to be a production, and they don’t even have to know I’m praying for them.

Prayer is powerful though. By praying for my students, for other teachers, for the school system, for those in power, etc. I am letting God be in control. I’m also reminding myself that he is in control.

1 Timothy 2:1- First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people…

Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons Christians have. Prayer changes us and changes those around us. Even if you can’t preach to everyone you come in contact with, you can pray for them.

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Showing Respect for Institutions

One thing that often goes unspoken when discussing faith in the public-school system is God’s direction on obeying authorities. As a teacher, it’s part of my Christian duty to respect those in authority, this includes obeying the rules set in place.

Romans 13:1-2- Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

It is very clear that God wants us to obey those in authority. If you show respect to those in authority you’re showing respect to God. Don’t get me wrong, we should obey God above all else, and there are times that our obedience to God is above any obedience to those in authority.

Acts 5:29- Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, we ought to obey God rather than men.

Keep in mind that this was in reference to authorities demanding them to DENY Jesus. As long as the public-school system does not demand that you deny your faith, you are still in subjection, as am I.

By showing respect for those in authority, we are once again sharing our faith with those around us. In fact, each time we show obedience to God’s word we share our faith.

What is that faith?

Christian faith is the belief that we have eternal life with God through Jesus, the son of God.

1 John 5:11-12- And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his son. The one who has the son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the son of God does not have eternal life.

We receive this eternal life through contact with the blood of Christ that was spilled for our salvation. Jesus’ blood cleanses us from sin. Once we believe in our savior, it’s our job to share that belief with others so they can come in contact with the blood as well.

Mark 16:15-16- And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

As a teacher I still have an obligation to share this news with those around me. How I do so may have to be a little different than other situations, but this is true of all interactions we have.

What are your thoughts? Share your ideas in the comments.