Practice What You Preach

Respect religious diversity

If you asked a St. George’s administration member what quality of this school they are most proud of, chances are several of them would say the school’s diversity.

Photo: Mayyadah Alzaben

On several occasions, the chapel speakers have talked proudly about the school’s racial, gender and religious diversity in chapel to bring the school together. With religious diversity specifically, SGIS has stated in the “Being an Episcopal School” section of their website that they have an “uncommon commitment to inclusion, in an atmosphere that welcomes families of any faith.”

That’s a pretty strong statement, right? You’ll see why I brought it up soon enough.

For some students, going through the prayers, standing up when told and listening to sermons might be no big deal. However, for students who are not Christian, they might feel left out, bored, annoyed or even uncomfortable.

Therefore, one might make the decision to stay behind and hide out, as they don’t want to go through chapel while not being a Christian. And this isn’t far-fetched, because you know… the school has religious diversity!

So why do students get in trouble for skipping chapel, when it might not have any religious meaning to them? To make the students feel like the school is religiously diverse, you must respect the religious beliefs in question. This is why assemblies that revolve around chapel should be optional.

One might argue that most of the school is Christian and I’m only speaking for the few, but I wouldn’t be so sure about that. St. Georges has a lot of religious diversity. I know several students who are not of the Christian faith, and others would probably say the same.

Some people might bring up that if you choose to attend a Christian school, you should understand that you must attend chapel. There are several reasons why students would go to SGIS which are not religion-based. Firstly, when you are a kid, you cannot entirely choose what school you go to. Not only that, St. Georges makes a point to be welcoming and inclusive of all faiths, not just one. A lot of kids can also benefit from going to a smaller school and having more time for one-on-ones with teachers. The students who decide to go to a religious school for any of the above reasons should not be forced to follow that religion.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t learn about religion. Learning about other faiths can absolutely help us become more open-minded as people. That is why we are required to take a full-year religion class. However, we should not be forced to go to chapel and worship certain religious beliefs. If we want to do so, we should do it of our own free will.