My 13 year old daughter’s religion teacher walked into the classroom last week and asked the students a question.
“What is the most dangerous place in Austria?”
The students were confused about what she meant, so she clarified: she meant the place where a person was most likely to die, to lose their life, to be killed . . .
A few kids made guesses. The highway? A certain square in Vienna? Ski slopes? The hospital? They were all wrong. Imagine a little drum roll as the teacher revealed the correct answer. The most dangerous place in Austria for a person to be is . . . .
So began the first of two lessons on the topic of abortion. They had the second lesson yesterday. In those two hours, the teacher managed to impart the following “facts” to the impressionable young students (or, at least the few who were listening to her): that terminating a pregnancy is equal to killing a person, that the “embryonic baby” experiences pain in the process, that abortion is not legal and not a right, it is simply a crime that has been declared punishment-free. She didn’t use the word “murder” but when one of the boys in the class commented that it sounded like murder, her response was: “Well, you can see it that way.”
My daughter clearly wanted to talk about the lessons, but was a bit afraid to bring it up with me – and rightly so. She remembered my intense reaction a year earlier when my older daughter went through this same indoctrination. I was spitting mad and spoiling for a . . . calm and diplomatic parent-teacher conference. She basically had to beg me not to go through with it. This time, my younger daughter had the foresight to extract the same promise in advance. Only then would she tell me any details about the lessons.
Since I am now forbidden to talk to the teacher, I have no choice but to rant on the subject with anyone who will listen. I spew out my disgust over the obvious manipulation and the moralistic self-righteousness of this woman. How, during her protracted defense of all human life, she did not notice when one of the girls broke out in tears. (My daughter had to raise her hand and ask if she and this girl – her friend – could leave the classroom for a while.)
The saving grace of all this, is that my daughter proved to be thoughtful and difficult to influence through such obvious manipulation. What little respect she still had for this particular teacher has now been erased. She had some trouble with the idea of being “for abortion” but we managed to clear that up. (I used the prostitution example – how it is legal not because it is good, but because making it a crime causes so much more hardship for the women involved.) I was impressed by her ability to think the whole complex issue through and come to her own decisions. At the end of our debriefing session, she said she wished the class had more to do with ethics. In her case, it seems to me that no lasting harm was done.
And yet, I’m STILL irritated by my daughters – or any kids, really – having religion as a school subject (and have been for years – see “Heathen Talk”). This latest episode just adds to my frustration. I would so love to terminate my daughters’ religious “education”, but it’s now in the third trimester and too late to abort. I should have taken measures to prevent its conception.