Michele: Public school here in Australia is very different than in Amherst in a lot of ways. One feature of school here is Religion class every Wednesday morning. The school in our town offers three flavors of religion, Catholic, Protestant and none of the above. After some discussion, we opted for protestant-flavored religion for our kids. Robin and Will were pretty skeptical of the whole religion class thing. Kids who don't opt for either Catholic or Protestant get to go to the undercover area and color during Religion class. Coloring is a pretty big draw for the 7 to 9 year old set.
Gavin and I both did time in Sunday school classes growing up and I clocked in 6 years of Catholic schooling so we gently encouraged the kids to try out Religion class. It is good for them! Robin was the first to forgo coloring and try Religion and reported that it wasn't so bad. They learned some old testament stories that all have the same 'believe or be damned' theme. A few weeks later Will followed suit and now the coloring group has two fewer followers than it used to have.
Religion in school is very normal here and people are surprised (to some degree) that religion is not taught in American schools. I've been told several times that American children grow up much faster than Australian children. Many Australians may believe that America would be a better place and that we could have avoided the whole global financial crisis if we did teach religion in schools. I don't know about that, but a little fire and brimstone can't hurt and makes for great drama.