Should religion be allowed into our school systems?
Short answer: hell no. Schools are a secular institution, and they should remain as such.
But it isn't that simple.
I for one abhor anything that might infringe upon the rights of the individual, as long as the practice and/or belief of those rights are of no harm to anyone else. Ergo, I have no problem whatsoever with students being allowed to practice their beliefs proudly and freely wherever they go, within reason. We aren't fascists, and despite the secularity of public school as an institution singling out and banning religion would make secularists no better than non-secularists who insist that prayer in school should be mandatory. Christian students should have every right to wear a crucifix and carry a bible if they want to, just as Muslim students have every right to wear a Hijab and carry a Qu'ran and Jewish students to wear a Star of David or a Chai, etc. etc. etc. Also, not only is banning the expression of personal belief total bullshit as it goes against a fundamental aspect of the First Amendment, it's impossible and is really more trouble than it's worth in the end.
But I'm with CosmicDebris here. Personal expression of personal belief? Awesome, go for it, no skin off my back. Extra-personal expression of personal belief? Sod off, seriously. The minute personal belief turns you into a proselytizing douchebag, you need to take a step back and realise that not everyone has the same beliefs as you. Getting into people's faces and forcibly preaching at people only makes you a Grade A, bigoted, mouth-breathing turd of the executive level in the end; no excuses. I've been on the receiving end of that, and trust me…no matter how 'good' your intentions may be, you still come off looking like a zealous asshole douche, and no one likes a zealous asshole douche.
I'm also strongly against the idea of mandatory teaching of religion in school. Theology classes exist for people who want to take them, but to force everyone into taking a theology class would again detract from the secular nature of public school as an institution. Also, I've yet to take a theology class that wasn't taught by a non-biased, purely objective teacher, and I've taken more than a few theology classes in my day. It should also be of no surprise that I'm strongly opposed to religious ideology and dogmatism affecting secular courses, such as history and the sciences. If you or your family has an issue with secular studies, then don't enroll in a secular school, DUH. This point is particularly sore for me right now, given the recent nonsense going on in one of my local school districts.
But to go back to the original point of the thread, I don't see any reason to outright ban religion in school. Again like CosmicDebris, the last high school I attended had several religious and faith student groups and organizations that met on campus with no problems at all. There was a daily morning Christian prayer group that met around the flagpole, a Muslim prayer group that gathered together in the commons for Salaat, and at least one coven that I knew of that hung around behind the school, and none of them had any problems as far as I know. The groups as a whole kept to themselves and welcomed anyone who wanted to attend, and that was it. Good on them, I say, because I didn't have to deal with it. As long as it stays within the group and doesn't get into my personal business, it's fine with me.
The exact second it does leave the group and gets in my face, however…it's on.
~ jj ~