There is little as dear to Americans as religion. Guns are definitely up there, but even America's favorite toy cannot match up to the Glory of God. The only thing people love anywhere near as much as religion, here in the states, is arguing about it. People especially love to argue that their religious freedom is being hampered anytime the concept of separation of church and state is even mentioned.
There is an oft-made argument that because religion played such a key role in the founding of America (see: The Puritans, The Quakers, etc) it would be foolish to deny its the role in shaping our new nation. The idea is that to separate religion and state, is to ask an irreconcilable split. It is to deny the influence religion plays in our everyday decisions, to deny that Americans are a deeply spiritual people. Perhaps it is this fear of denied religiosity, of self-deception, that inspires such spirited defenses of seemingly trivial matters like the inclusion of the phrase "One nation under God" in our Pledge of Allegience.
The uproar over the desire to excise a mere four words– words that were only added in 1952, by the way– may seem pretty ridiculous, but for many Christians to not have those words spoken would be a sin of omission. Not only that, but they view it as another example of the creeping religious intolerance infecting our nation's government. Another sad example of collateral damage from the separation of church and state.
Maybe then what we need is not a separation, but an integration of church and state. Religion should not be banned from public school, but embraced. For our differences in religion are just as much of this country's multicultural fabric as our differences in race or income. Schools could allow the celebration of Christmas, replete with baby Jesus and the wise men, as long as the holidays of other religions are also observed.
If every child is to recite the pledge of allegiance before class every day under God, regardless of religious background, in order to foster religious tolerance, then the same should be done on the behalf of other religions.
A month of day-time fasting during Ramadan would provide an interesting cultural insight to those not familiar with the Islamic practice. Similar considerations could be made during Yom Kippur, in another effort to teach the children about the practices of the other two Abrahamic religions.
The school could even raise pet goats so that any student Satanists would not have to go without a living sacrifice when performing a black mass. After all, it wouldn't be fair to just observe the practices of the popular world religions, without the inclusion of practices from traditionally unpopular religions as well. Otherwise the calls for religious tolerance would ring hollow.
America is far to large and diverse a country to allow any one religion dominate the public sphere, hence the first amendment. So we must we must tap into our inner Walt Whitman's, and be willing to contain in ourselves the multitudes of organized religion, or else our love of religion will be far too narrow.