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High school curriculum's should include religious studies - Let's end intolerance

Updated on September 18, 2012

I’m assuming that this hub may be one that will encourage conflicting viewpoints, but I am highly passionate about this topic and hope that by writing a hub about it, I can encourage some debate and interest. But before I get into the meat of my argument, let me first qualify that I will not be espousing any one particular religious ideology in this article, only a philosophy of wisdom and tolerance.

Somewhere along the line of every major group protecting their own interests, which subsequently caused us to create policies in education, business, and politics out of fears of offending these special groups – we ended up with a society that knows very little about any other group other than the ones they belong to. And, because we continue to diminish the rights of some, slowly over time, we will diminish the rights of all.

The less that we know about things, the more we, as human beings, have a tendency to judge them, and fear them. We see examples of this mentality in every aspect of our lives. For instance, until you learned how to navigate on the internet or within social media, you may have either shown little interest in them, or you may even have had negative feeling about them. Or, have you ever gotten to know someone and then later realized that until you got to know them, you really misjudged them? The basic principle of “knowledge is power” is instrumental in an enlightened free society that embraces diversity with respect and freedom to express our differences.

The more we keep looking for ways to separate ourselves with rules (laws), the more intolerant we will become of anyone who thinks or acts differently than us. Case in point is the tremendous fear and trepidation we have about speaking about radical religious factions that create terror in this world. Right now the emphasis is on radical Islamic factions. Yet most of us do not even understand enough about the religion, its history, or the culture of these groups to even have an intelligent discussion about this issue. If we do not understand what constitutes a radical Muslim versus a typical Muslims, how can we really understand and hope to resolve the issues around these fears. If we are going to live together, should we not at least understand each other backgrounds and culture?

Why are we so afraid to have the Muslim discussion in schools and communities? We are afraid to have the discussion because we are not informed enough to have it. We face the same reluctance on issues right in our own backyard, by not wanting to have discussions and education about racism, sexual orientation, women’s rights, abortion and so on. When an issue comes up around these differences, all we can do is react from our ignorance and hope that we are doing the right thing. There is an attitude of “don’t speak” for fear of offending, but quietly judge.

Clearly there will be those in many groups that only know that language of hate, and perhaps the only way to fight these factions are with the only language they understand. But honestly, until we have a background and understanding of their arguments, their culture, history, or even what they even really want, how can we understand how to approach the problem. It is when we face the issues behind these radical groups that it is most important for us to understand and work together to eliminate the threats to our freedoms.

Without meaning to insult anyone, we must remember the wise idiom “ignorance breeds contempt”. What we do not understand – scares us. If we do not teach our children that others are different and why, not better or worse, just different – where will we be in the next 100 years? Not only will we have lost our entire capacity for tolerance to any group outside our own selected group, but our discontent with each other may become so severe that our only recourse to stand up for what we believe in is violence.

Religious, or even political education that is presented with a culturally accurate and factual basis (not slanted or spun to adapt to a specific viewpoint), is critical to educating a new generation of Americans that can at least develop their preferences and ideas from a thoughtful intelligent process, as opposed to what they hear from slanted and biased pundits for specific groups. Include all viewpoints in this education, secularism and the history of it, atheism, all religions and their histories, including the cultural relevance and progression to each one. Learning is not indoctrination unless the teachers taint the learning with their own personal bias. Teaching is about expanding the mind and providing the information (facts only please) for each one of us to make our own choices about what our preferences are.

I will never apologize for my right to belong to any group I wish to, including my religious affiliations, political affiliations, or my choices in charity, sexual orientation, restaurants I choose, or how much soda pop I want to have at one particular time. At the same time, I will never criticize, degrade, or try to inhibit other groups for their freedom to express themselves either. I hope you will agree with me that despite our rights to associate with these groups or live within our personal preference, we NEVER have right to take this freedom away from others, or have a right to harm others, including physical or emotional harm.

This is an amazing country I live in. To be able to voice my opinions in an article that many may disagree with and not be afraid for my life, is a freedom I will not take advantage of. We must keep this freedom alive by insuring that our younger Americans understand how we came to this freedom and the many cultural, historical, and religious differences that still make America the greatest country in the world. If we do not embrace the advantage of this great diversity again, and soon, by educating ourselves and our students with the what and why our neighbors feel and think differently, we may find ourselves just like those countries that those people ran from in the first place. I encourage anyone the supports this viewpoint to contact their local and state representatives, to re-institute adding religious studies to the general high school curriculum.

Joleen (Bridges) Halloran is the author ofFinding Home - Breaking Free from Limits. This book represents over 10 years of research and inspiration in the topics of personal and spiritual empowerment and provides readers with a pathway to overcome limits and discover authentic divine qualities in their lives and to live a life of unlimited freedom. .

Beyond Joleen's professional life, she is an avid reader and researcher of books related to her special passion, which is metaphysical and spirituality topics. You can find out more about Joleen's book at her books website, Additional articles of a spiritual and inspirational nature can be found at the book's website as well.

What is your view?

Do you support including religious studies into the high school curriculum?

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    • joleenbridges profile image

      Joleen 5 years ago from Lee's Summit

      Yes, yes, yes, and YES! Agree krillco totally. Thanks for you comment.

    • krillco profile image

      William E Krill Jr 5 years ago from Hollidaysburg, PA

      Bravo! I agree! Add to the curriculum list that SHOULD be taught: philosophy, psychology, logic, and relationship studies.