Place of religion in public schools: Part 4

Religious behaviour of students and teaches in the school

Rohit Dhankar

We are discussing place of religion in public schools in a secular democracy. What I am saying here may be totally irrelevant in a theocratic state or a country which does not place any value on secularism. Secondly, even within a secular democracy we are interested in public schools, most of which are state funded. Some of what is said may be applicable to denominational schools, but rest may not.

I am assuming (it could be argues quite plausibly, but I am leaving that out for lack of space) that education system in a secular democracy is duty bound to help children grow up into active and critical citizens who can make informed choices and can defend those choices in public. Of course education will have other aims as well; but I am deliberately taking this one for the sake our argument.

Democracy gives every citizen equal rights to autonomously choose the life they want to live within the constitutional framework; which is designed to promote equality, personal autonomy, liberty and freedom. Thus in a democracy every citizen needs to learn: 1. To understand and respect the others views and freedoms; and 2. To care about them. These seem to be necessary qualities of an active and critical democratic citizen; though not enough in themselves. Therefore, the job of the school becomes to help students understand others’ views and respect other people as equals even if one can not agree and respect their views. (There is a difference between respecting a person and respecting a belief. Demand to respect all beliefs equally is an impossible hypocrisy; while demand of equal respect to all people is a democratic ideal, and is possible.) This is a very difficult attitude to develop, and perhaps no one succeeds completely; but we all have to keep trying thorugh all our lives; that is, if we want to live in a democracy.

We should understand that a secular state can not preach anti-religion ideas. It has to give people freedom to choose their personal beliefs; the schools can preach neither religious dogma, not atheistic ones. They can simple present them and analyse them. A secular school can not disdain, prohibit or insult in any way religious behaviour of its students. It can make its policies strictly on the secular and constitutional grounds but if the children want to participate in pooja or namaz, and even if remain out of school for these purpose, it can do nothing. However, the usual penalty for being absent, if there is such a rule in the school, applies to those who remain absent for pooja and namaz as well. It seems to me that the school should also bring the fact that by remaining absent they are losing opportunity to learn to students notice. But the final choice has to be that of the students. This is necessary as students have to learn to weigh pros and cons of their decisions and learn to be responsible for them. But at the same time he school, to my mind, should also not deviate from its settles time-table to make room for such activities. For example, there could be a demand for having Tuesday or Friday as the weekly holiday. All other things being equal, the schools should not consider that on the religious grounds of the communities living around it. In India there are too many religions, we shall never be able to manage such adjustments. However, in a mono-religious society such adjustments may be possible; but mono-religious societies are rarely, if ever, secular and democratic.

A secular rational attitude demands that one does not curb or promote any belief system through force and rules. Not even the secular and rational belief system. The only possible way is that of dialogue and rational persuasion where people make their own decisions on the basis of their own lights. So a school can not stop children from attending their pooja or namaaz even if they remain absent from the school for that purpose.

Teachers’ display of religious behaviour or symbols in the school

Some secular states take the position that as public functionaries teachers should not be allowed to display such behaviour or symbols. To my mind it is a very complex issue. Let’s take the example of thick band of moli (the red-white thread that Hindu priests tie on the wrists of their yejmaans on every auspicious occasion) which many Hindu teachers, officials, politicians, and so on display prominently these days. Actually I distinctly remember that about two decades back it used to be a thin kachcha dhaga that used to break on its on mostly by the end of the second day. Now it has become a think band which does not break for months, and usually becomes very dirty. It has nothing to do with Hindu religion as such. It is an assertion and display of identity. It is a social-political act, associated with religion but not unalienable part of it. Similarly, prominent display of a cross around a Christian’s neck or a round skull cap on a Muslim’s head are markers—and these days also an assertion, like moli—of identity and not really essential part of religion. I think it could be plausibly argued that in modern India a feeling of underlining difference with others is also mixed with these markers of identity. Conceptually, all identity marks have an element of difference from the other, as any identity has to do two things: proclaiming who you are and also who you are not. Our ambiguous attitude to religion and habit of our democratic state to prostrate before any thing vaguely religious have made these symbols into assertion of political power, solidarity to ones own community and challenge to others. Thus, as I understand the situation these symbols at the present juncture in Indian polity are dividing the society; and slowly but certainly nudging us to move away from dispassionate secular politics, pushing us towards aggressive identity politics where democratic principles are definitely a casualty.

Personally, I feel that we should have a dress-code for all public servants. And these markers should not be allowed in that dress-code. Not because the state wants to take an anti-religion or anti-identity stand; but simply because a public servant should, particularly in present times, make all efforts to communicate that whatever her religious and political views she stands in absolutely identical relationship with all citizens in her role as a public servant. That is a stand in principle; but that can not happen in present day India. Therefore, as a compromise somewhat uncomfortable compromise one has to accept the display of these markers in office. That brings an added responsibility on the public servants that they should communicate in their behaviour a totally secular dealing with all citizens; people should develop a confidence that in spite of these identity markers the person will act according to our secular constitution. At present this is not communicated. And so there is a problem here.

A teacher, in this sense, is a public servant. She should, ideally speaking, refrain from public display of these makers, but our constitution does not prohibit it; therefore, even strictly secular schools can not ban or strongly oppose these practices. As a result we will have to live with them. Sadly, enough.

Preaching of ones religion in the school

In short no school has the right to preach any religion, and so no teacher can preach one’s religion in the school. But we need to understand the place of religion in curriculum and school life in a little more detail.

In addition to what we have discussed above—display of religious behaviour or symbols in the school—lets make two more categories: ‘teaching religion’ and ‘teaching about religion’. Teaching religion here would mean teaching religious beliefs in the school and hoping that the children will acquire those beliefs. It will also include religious practices in the schools—for example, various kinds of prayers in the school, including Saraswati and Gandhi’s supposed to be secular bhajans. Teaching about religion would simply means an attempt to make the religious belief systems known to the students, understand them and examine them as one examines any political, social or scientific theory.

Teaching religion is clearly contradictory to the ideal of democratic citizenship. The Morning Prayer in the schools, saraswati statues, gayatri-mantras on the walls etc. are all non-secular and objectionable practices. This certainly amounts to practicing religion in schools. Actively teaching religion in schools will also be objectionable on the same token.

Teaching about religion, however, seems to be a logical necessity for ay curriculum in a secular country. We have to provide children with the knowledge base needed to understand the history, culture and belief systems of all citizens if we want them to make independent and informed choices in life. Even if we do not like religious belief systems people live by them and the children may make the same choice. It is the duty of the school to inform them about these possibilities, as impartially as possible. But school can not present them as necessarily true beliefs. If we want our children to be informed about Ram and Karishna we will have to present views of those who consider them as avataras, we have to present the views of those who consider them historical figures, and also of those who consider them simply imaginary mythological figures, who never actually existed. We have to share these views with available evidence, if any. We can say that there are some Hindus who think that Ram was Vishnu’s avatar; but we also have to inform them that there are other people, Hindus as well as non-Hindus, who believe neither in Vishnu nor in Ram as his avatar. We will have to present the critique of what is supposed to be their lives and preaching. For example, we will have to inform children that in the eyes of some agniparisksha was injustice to Sita and banishing Sita from Ayodhya later was simple desire to cling to power and cowardice in some people’s eyes. I am putting all this rather in a crude sense; but the point I am making is for presentation of various contrasting views with their arguments and available evidence. One can make that as sophisticated as one pleases or the occasion demands. In case of Muhammad (as he is definitely a historical figure) we have to talk of him exactly as we talk of, say Marx, or Plato, or Nehru, or Buddha or Mahavir. We have to inform the children that Muslims consider him the last and final prophet. But we will also have to inform that there are plenty of people in the world who do not believe in God so they think no one could really be a prophet or an avatar or a sun of God. Therefore, all prophets and self-proclaimed avatars were either misguided people or they deliberately spread lies. That, however, does not preclude the possibility of spreading lies for imagined good of mankind. We will have to present both views with equimindedness, and leave the children to make their own decision. What I am arguing for is that teaching about religion will have to be done in a rational manner. All religious figures in this scheme will get only as much respect as any philosopher or historical figure; no less no more. They will face all the questions that other philosophers and historical figures face, whether they like or not. Similarly all religious scriptures will have to be analysed exactly as any other book on philosophy or political theory. I believe that would be of immense benefit to the children and to the country.

But that will also require a huge amount of preparation. We have to have balanced and authentic curricula, we have to decide at what age the children should be introduced to what kind of issues and information, we will have to have a huge number of teachers who can teach in a rational and impartial manner. Perhaps team teaching could be explores—education about religion could done by a team that has teachers from different religions in it, and not by a single teacher. Are we ready for it? I do not know, let sociologists and political scientists answer that. Should we teach about religion in this sense? Yes, I am certain of that. Should teachers preach their own religions in school? Not at all.

That leaves us with one more issue from the initial discussion. Teachers’ religious behaviour out side the school. The next and last part of this series will deal with that.indus HHh


To be Concluded.


22nd July 2013

Rohit Dhankar, Azim Premji University, Bangalore and Digantar, Jaipur

8 Responses to Place of religion in public schools: Part 4

  1. mahesh kumar sharma says:

    यदि धर्मनिरपेक्ष हम हैं तो इस तरह सोचना और करना ही होगा । रोहित ने जो कहा वह जरूरी मगर चुनौती वाला काम भी है । मुझे लगता है धर्म विशेष के अनुसार शादीशुदा होने पर माथे पे बिंदी लगाना या चूड़ियाँ पहन कर शिक्षा के धंधे मे यानि कक्षा मे बच्चों या किन्ही भी लोगों के सामने जाना भी वर्जित होना चाहिए । यानि आपको देख कर या आपके किसी भी प्रतीक से कोई आपको पहचान नहीं पाए कि आप किसी खास तथाकथित धर्म के हैं ।


    • rdhankar says:

      This brings in a new twist: how do we distinguish between cultural and religious symbols? And perhaps that is why we in India cannot really ban the Identity markers. I would also bring another difficult issue here: people may actually ‘construct’ new markers to emphasise their religious identity. So more you ban more they may proliferate. My conclusion was: even if we see problems in flaunting one’s religious identity markers we may have to live with them.


      • mahesh kumar sharma says:

        धन्यवाद , मुझे अभी भी लगता है की संस्कृति के नाम पर होने वाले प्रतीक प्रदर्शन भी हमारे देश मे तो तथाकथित धर्मों का ही प्रतिनिधितत्व करते हैं ।पब्लिक प्लेस पर होने वाले हर क्रियाकलाप पर तटस्थ निगहबानी और सचेत कायदे कानून की जरूरत है ।


  2. Prof. Ahemd says:

    Your conceputlization of the concept of identity in terms of differentiating ‘markers’ by which people define themselves in terms of ‘who they are’ and ‘who they are not’ is a bit narrow and hence misleading. One needs to go a bit beyond these markers as they lie in cognitive space of people. These markers may be used by a group of people to differentiate symbolically themselves from others but they are situated within a belief system or they emanate from their system of knowing. And it is this domain that one needs to go into examining. Some sociologists define identity in terms of ‘what they know is who they are’. If you take this definition, it is their knowledge that defines them, and not their markers. There may be people who don’t visible or external markers but associate with certain kinds of identity and exploits all opportunities to assert overtly or covertly. Exercising their cultural and religious knowledge in public space is part of their tendency for epistemic reclamation of their own space. The rate of such an act probably intensifies whenever there appears threatening circumstances. The problem for the modern state has been that they have not been able to differentiate between cultural and religious domain or belief system. They are intermingled and enmeshed to each other. In some cases, they are intrinsically intertwined. There does not exist such a distinction. So whenever, the state attempts to create such an artificial barrier against them, it seeks to carve out a counter hegemonic ideological apparatus. And, the act of assertion (to use your term) becomes probably an act of rebel against the hegemonic ideology. In your case, you build an argument for strict and strong state which has agency to control and implement its rules. At best such state could be said to have hegemony of secular rationality. We have historically seen that hegemonic state irrespective of their ideological leanings. So your suggestion that state should make people suspend their cultural and religious identity at public space demonstrates that you make case for hegemonic state of certain kind, is compromise with the true democratic spirit. The maturity of a democratic society takes place with engagements of different ideas in free environment, where people can engage with each other ideas, and not through forceful suspension of their identity markers. I have not thought about this proposition seriously but, I think that instead of getting afraid of one’s religious preach, probably the modern school armed with science curricula, should think of promoting inter-faith dialogues and intermingling.


  3. rdhankar says:

    Thanks for your comment Professor Ahemd. I would happily agree with most of what you have said, but a few points. I was not discussing identity, nor actually defining identity; I was simply pointing out that identity will necessarily have to indicate both ‘who I am’ and ‘who I am not’; and so do the markers of identity. Identity may involve much more. So I am not conceptualizing identity narrowly. Nor was I discussing formation of identity. Of course, I agree with you that one’s entire belief system is involved in identity formation. When I talk of ‘self-awareness’ actually I am pointing to the beginning of self-identity as well, identity as belonging to a particular tradition or community necessarily requires the self to build upon it. That seems to be a necessary condition of human life. What I was pointing out in the article is that identity politics starts using certain markers for reasons that may not be that fundamental to ones belief system or even to self perception.

    I also recognized the difficulty of differentiating between the cultural and religious symbols in one of my responses. And therefore, the flaunting of markers created or being used for purposes of narrow identity politics cannot be banned. A democracy has to live with it, even when it knows that markers are being deliberately used to create and emphasise difference, with hidden hint at opposition, between groups. The path is not to ban, but to create a discourse that may help people to go beyond this.
    Another impotent point to note is that I was talking of behaviour of public servants on duty. A park or a social gathering or a political meeting all are public spaces. I have no objection if people use “their cultural and religious knowledge … … for epistemic reclamation of their own space” in such situations. But a judge or a police officer or a senior civil servant doing the same in the face of the constitution will not be acceptable. I do not think it is hegemonic on the part of the secular state to demand from a judge to act as a judicial official of the state strictly within the bounds of the secular constitution and completely set aside his Hindu or Muslim identity and religious and cultural beliefs. An attempt to assert one’s identity in such capacity may be a rebellion, but it would certainly be a misplaced one. I repeat what I wrote in this regards: “we should have a dress-code for all public servants. And these markers should not be allowed in that dress-code. Not because the state wants to take an anti-religion or anti-identity stand; but simply because a public servant should, particularly in present times, make all efforts to communicate that whatever her religious and political views she stands in absolutely identical relationship with all citizens in her role as a public servant. That is a stand in principle; but that cannot happen in present day India. Therefore, as a compromise, somewhat uncomfortable compromise, one has to accept the display of these markers in office.” I do not understand how this becomes “hegemony of secular rationality”.

    I entirely agree with your proposition regarding interfaith dialogue. But if that dialogue is carried on with the spirit of genuine enquiry. The usual rhetoric of ‘all religions are always right’ and ‘they all say the same thing’ will not do. It will simply teach intellectual dishonesty. Genuine enquiry will involve raising difficult questions, and often religious people are not prepared to deal with that.


  4. Prof. Ahemd says:

    Many thanks for reply Prof Dhankar. I am amused with your sharp reasoning and promptness in engaging with dialogue. It has been pleasure reading your all series of post. I agree with most of your argument in the reply, and especially with your formulation that a judge, civil servant and police officer can’t be given liberty to exercise their cultural subjectivity in course of their job. I don’t think there is any call or even a possibility for subjectivity and its expressions there. They are bound with legal codes and are not allowed to govern them with their own subjectivity and acculturation bias. This is very fair point that you have made. I regret that this did not occur to my mind, as I was thinking more from classroom situations viewpoints, and the possibility for epistemic reclamation there. We at university often see that the teachers, who have certain ideological standpoints tend to assert and articulate them, and I don’t find any problem in that. I find if absolutely find if a Black Professor asserts his/her identity in the classrooms and hence takes liberty to flaunt the cultural symbols in classrooms with heavy presence of non-black students. Similarly, if a Dalit Professor in course of her lecture take liberty to rationalize her position (which could be her own personal position by virtue of belonging to her community) and defend its cultural and academic expressions. There should be no problem if she takes liberty to flaunt symbols which emotionally appeal to Dalit Community. The feminists can do the same. On the same ground, I don’t know what is the problem if a teacher belonging to religious minority group make reference to her cultural and religious beliefs even if she goes to the extent of flaunting the elements of beliefs, and their symbols and markers. I think that it should go in the pretext of academic freedom without any problem, and it does so. On the same premise, a teacher feeling strongly for majoritarian religious community can make reference and flaunt their belief systems and symbols. These goes in the name of academic freedom because they are acts of ideological negotiations. These were the spaces which I meant when I used the term; ‘epistemic reclamation of their own spaces’. My impression is that these acts are now the order of the university life, and they have helped making university life much more tolerant and appreciative of diversity. One may say that these are higher education examples and such discourse can be allowed with grown up but it can’t be allowed to happen with young growing up minds. They are at the impressionable stage and should be kept away from any indoctrinating act. If this is the case, it seems to be fair point. One should not play with a mind which is not capable of playing with. However, we don’t know historically or empirically as yet, what the effects of indoctrinating attempts with young minds are. Do they actually succeed in shaping an indoctrinated life? (I would exhort you to share your point of view on this.) My reading is that the Christian missionary schools which, from the very early times, have undertaken indoctrination project at their core, in some cases very explicitly or in some cases implicitly, have not succeeded in great magnitude? Though, they might have made some definite foray in this direction. Many students who attend their schools, participate in their prayers come out totally unconverted. I stand to be scrutinized, but I hunch is that most of the liberal and secular minds across the third world countries have attended Christian missionary schools, where religious symbols and belief system are prevalent and order of the life.
    There could be two propositions here and both of them have significant implications. One could be that one teaches to appreciate a particular ideological position, and second could be that one makes learn to hate others. Both represent regime of indoctrination but probably there would be difference of degree. It goes without saying that indoctrination makes blind and cripples to see beyond its linearity. We should rather be cautious of this fact. It should not be allowed in any plural society.

    But we are not discussing the ramifications of an indoctrination school rather we are discussing the freedom to preach one’s belief in the school in a secular society. The term preach is a value loaded term is mostly used to refer the intent of converting one in religious sense. You have been arguing that the school in secular state should not allow any teacher to preach her/his religion. If I understand correctly, for you the school needs to indifferent to any religions. For you the school should engage with secular contents, and if it teaches religion, it should only teach about religions and not the religions. This has been official line of secular state like India. I think that this is here when the problem lies, as the state refuses to recognize the people’ religious aptitudes and goes on to suggest that keep religion out from public space which is regulated by a secular state. This is line that even you seem to suggest, and I find this is problematic. It not only sounds regimental but make people suspicious and alienates from values of secularism to use the word in broad sense. I tend to think that secular state instead of suspending should help its citizens to engage with their own faiths. Each other’s faiths which co-exist under the secular state. Towards this end, I would vouch that let the school be the playground to engage with different religious doctrinarians, and beliefs. You have rightly pointed out that often religious people are intolerant to engage with rational enquiry, but letting them off from dialogues is not doing service. I feel it is the school where curiosity and inquisition flourish and bloom in the young minds, and if all the religions are made to face innocent questions (they are often most difficult ones!), they would probably need to invent themselves all together. I would believe that a modern democratic school should guard that all the religion have space to be engaged with. This should communicate that message that state is not interested in endorsing the followers of any particular religion, rather it is interested in helping people to co-exist better by understanding each other beliefs system. Any way they are bound to live together.


  5. rdhankar says:

    Thanks for your well thought response Prof. Ahemd. I was busy, therefore the delay in response.
    I would completely agree with your conclusion that the modern democratic schools should communicate that the “state is not interested in endorsing the followers of any particular religion, rather it is interested in helping people to co-exist better by understanding each other beliefs system” and that a dialogue on different faiths can help in achieving that aim. However, I have several disagreements with the rest of your analysis.
    First, I will reiterate what you have already acknowledged: religious minded people do not allow a rational dialogue on their faith. I have already mentioned in one of the posts that questioning the avatar-status of Krishna, prophet hood of Muhammad, immaculate birth of Christ is not likely to do go down well with many religious minded people. And I can not imagine how a rational enquiry can avoid a host of such questions. However, I am completely with you in supposition that it should happen in the schools.
    Yes, I was more concerned with place of religion in schools in this series. There I see a large agreement in what we are saying. To quote from your comment: “One should not play with a mind which is not capable of playing with.” And “It goes without saying that indoctrination makes blind and cripples to see beyond its linearity.” However, together with disapproval of indoctrination in this manner you also express skepticism regarding success of attempted indoctrination in schools. Actually, I do share your skepticism of their success. Yes, Christian Missionaries do not seem to be very successful in this, not Hindus are very successful in spite of their daily Saraswati vandana in public schools. But their failure does not make them morally right to me. My objection to attempt indoctrination in schools is independent of its success or failure. I simply find the very attempt unjustifiable. It is violation of another thinking being’s cognitive autonomy and an intentional attempt to control her beliefs through non-rational means. That intention itself is objectionable to me.
    By preaching I mean ‘attempting to concern’. I have argued earlier that religious conversion would mean acceptance of a certain belief system. The core of that belief system is bound to be beyond the scope of rational enquiry and has to be accepted on faith, without any grounds that can be rationally assessed. The core dogma also has to be accepted in an unquestioning manner. It has to be guarded against the doubt and further enquiry, has to be instilled in an unshakable manner. That is indoctrination, and cripples autonomy. Therefore, preaching of religions in the schools can not be accepted.
    Dialogue, of course, is an entirely different matter. Teaching about religion is not preaching religion.
    Yes, I do take the line that religion should be kept out of the public space. But fail to understand why it should be seen as regimental. When two people from different faiths interact with each other in public space they shall need a code of behavior that is independent of their respective faith based codes. Also, when a citizen of any faith wants to claim his/her own right to make her own decisions the state can not hand him/her over to any religious group against his/her wishes. In these cases, and such others, only the secular law of the land should prevail. No religious feelings and principles can be enforced in such cases.
    I see a conceptual difference between wearing symbols of one’s culture and religion in a routine and normal way, and making it a point to flaunt them. But the distinction can not be made concrete enough for objective judgment, and therefore, can not be a subject of legal injunction. So, one has to accept this in schools as well as in universities.
    That brings us to the issue of academic freedom in the universities. When we consider teachers’ behavior in the universities their cultural and religious symbols do not seem to be very important to me, please recall that we can hardly do anything about that even in schools. But their theoretical and ideological positions need to be discussed. Teaching to me is not initiating one into one’s own line of thinking or in one’s own ideology. Teaching is striving to make the student rationally autonomous, to make his able to workout her own beliefs and value systems. That demands that the teacher be fair in presenting his/her position. S/he, of course, can introduce and argue for her/his position, not to do that would be intellectually dishonest; but a teacher who does not introduce the counter position and counter arguments made by other academics is not doing her job properly. S/he is indoctrinating. If he happens to be unaware of the critique of his position and unaware of at the least a few of other positions he is not fit to be a university professor. He is academically too narrow, and does not know his own field. If he chooses to ignore valid objections to his position he is closed minded, and a downright bad teacher.
    We should also remember that often a teacher is in the position of power in classroom—controls grades, resources and job opportunities. If this power is used to propagate one’s own position uncritically, without introducing other positions and to stifle students’ freedom to critique; it is misuse of power in a public position. Now, it depends how your assumed Black, Dalit and feminist teachers behave. If they are academically fair, there is no problem. If they are academically closed minded and are guided by identity politics alone, they are misusing their academic freedom.
    It seems to me that religion can create much bigger problems here than race, caste and gender can. Theories regarding race, caste and gender can be critiques and interrogated on rational grounds, they are not a matter of pure dogmatic belief. It is much more difficult (though recent experience shows not impossible) to raise the boggy of hurt feelings when academically discussing race, caste and gender, compared to discussions on religion. Academic positions on caste, gender, race have to defend themselves in the academic discourse. Religious positions on the other hand neither need such defense nor can ever be defended. Therefore, generalization form positions held on caste, race and gender basis to those held on religious basis is unwarranted.


  6. Anshumala says:

    Thanks Rohitji and Prof. Ahemd for this very interesting conversation.

    Your dialogue makes me think that even if we accept in principle that indoctrination of young minds should not be done in a secular and democratic public space, like school/college education, all actors, whether students, teachers or other public servants are born and live into indoctrinating influences in their homes. If a school (of whatever religious loyalties, even those with conscious attempts to convert) is unable to make a difference to a student’s belief system, it may be the case that the indoctrinating influence of homes/surroundings is far stronger than school. Worse, the teacher, even in an officially declared secular system, is a strong carrier of personal belief systems, and may carry or flaunt religious identity because she actually believes it to be superior to others. This applies to caste, gender or race identities as well. I suspect, that those whose identities are lower in social hierarchy do not express them publicly more because of a sense of inferiority rather than for lack of freedom.

    Of course, both of you are talking in terms of what should be, and I am talking more in terms of what is. But these are only impressionistic statements by someone who has not looked at this seriously with any amount of academic rigor. So please feel free to correct me.



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