ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Politics and Social Issues»
  • Social Issues

Should Religion Be Taught In Public Schools?

Updated on June 22, 2017

Editorial

Religion needs to be taught in public schools. Perhaps one of the major reasons for many wars and conflicts, is lack of tolerance, and ignorance of cultures, including religion.

Of course there will always be wars and conflicts. History is full of examples of wars being fought due to religion, and one group trying to force their views upon another. The ancient Romans vs. the Jews, and The Crusades, are only a couple of examples. Not only were such wars and conflicts fought in the name of religion, but they were wars against cultures, and cultural identity as well.

Since September 11, 2001 for example, Islam has suffered greatly for militant extremist actions. Those unfamiliar with Islam have, and some continue, to perceive all or most of Islam in a negative, militant manner, that is hostile to all other religions and thought. Most Muslims will admit, that such militant extremists are a small size within the faith. Many will also admit that such extremist views (i.e. Sharia Law, Taliban) are not representative of mainstream Islam. Also, how Islam is practiced in the Middle East may be different, than how practiced in Europe and the West. How Christianity is practiced in Eastern Europe, may be practiced differently in the West. Much has to do with history, culture, and cultural identity. And whether people like it or not, religion is a major part of one's history and culture.

Because religion is a major part of history, culture, and cultural identity, religion needs to be taught in the public schools. In the U.S., it is common, even among non-Christians for example, to know how Christmas is acknowledged, and celebrated by Christians. But ask some Christians, and other non-religious people, or people of other faiths, what is Hanukkah, or how is it celebrated, the ignorance could be staggering. And for those who are not Jewish, and might have some knowledge, many might not know that Hanukkah is not identified as one of the High Holy Days (Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur), though it's history is important to Jewish faith and culture. Judaism is a good example of mixing and/or separating religion and culture. Many Jews will admit, that being Jewish is both religious and cultural, but can also be just cultural (i.e. foods, traditions).

In the U.S., because of our history of religious wars and intolerance of religious practices, especially stemming from the 'Old World', and the Salem Witch Trials, for example, teaching religion in the public schools have become very unpopular. There are also many examples, of how religious thought was often pushed on to those who do not believe, even throughout the 20th century. Humanists, atheists, agnostics, and others have legitimately complained how often times, the State seems to have 'unofficially' instituted Judeo-Christian beliefs, as official practices of the State (i.e school prayer, Ten Commandments displays in court rooms, sworn oaths on a Bible, etc.). Are such examples enforcing religion upon others, or are they practices, that stem from U.S. history and cultural traditions, based upon our Judeo-Christian foundation? Many of such traditions have been corrected. School prayer is no longer allowed (moment of silence has been incorporated instead). Some court rooms no longer display the Ten Commandments, and a Bible does not have to be used to swear an oath. But in being more attentive to such practices, and becoming politically correct, has the U.S. become too politically correct, in the name of separating Church and State?

Right after September 11, 2001, many high schools and colleges explored, and taught the basic tenets of Islam. In high schools, Islam was explored in social studies and history classes. Many public schools got around the issue by relating it to the current issue of the day, and to help foster cultural understanding of a religion and culture. There were news stories of Christians, and others complaining of how such education was teaching their children to be Muslims. Nonsense. Of course they were not recruiting students to be Muslims. Educators countered, that such was not proselytizing, but educating students on religious and cultural traditions, different than our own. But why is that ok for Islam, and not other religions?

By studying religion, people can come to better understand other cultures, traditions, and even our own. Religion can be taught in the public schools, without proselytizing. This is often done on the college level. World religions is offered at many colleges. In such classes, a religion's basic beliefs, practices, history, and how it effects cultures, is often taught from a sociological perspective. The same could be done in public schools. One example worth noting is Creationism vs. Evolution. Why should this be such a controversy? Why can't the topic be presented how politics and social issues is often (or should be) presented: this side believes this, that side believes that, here are their arguments, now you decide.

By shutting down any public education of religion, education of cultures also gets shut down. Psychology for example, has a long history of trying to be objective and scientific, and has often dismissed religion as irrational. But as many therapists and counseling psychologists have found, when a person's religion, or religious and spiritual beliefs are ignored or dismissed, then a big part of the person is ignored and dismissed.

In school, students are taught to be tolerant of differences, and different ideas, except for religion. Students are encouraged to be 'open minded', and express thought, seemingly except for when it comes to religion, and religious thought. Just as students and U.S. society are asked, and often strongly encouraged to embrace diversity, that diversity should include religious thought and expression. And such could be done without proselytizing. A person's religion, and non-belief in any religion is private, and shouldn't be forced upon others. But a person shouldn't feel afraid to express their beliefs in public either. Banning any display, or banning any teaching of religion is not only breeding ignorance, but breeding intolerance as well.

Shabazz Wilson

Resources:

http://interfaithcalendar.org/

http://www.ncccusa.org/

https://parliamentofreligions.org/

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      sam 4 years ago

      no you are stupid and innapropriate

    • profile image

      Draka 5 years ago

      I like your reasons, but I am divided on the issue. While I agree that a multi-religion class would be the best option if religion were to be taught in public schools and that doing so would promote tollerance, it is not always economically feasible to add another subject. The fact is that art, music, and physical education classes are being cut from course lists in schools all over the country. Adding another class won't help.

      However, I disagree with your example about Creationism vs. Evolution. If they are to both be taught, they really should be taught in seperate classrooms (so, it would work if your idea was implemented) with teachers knowledgeable about their specific subject (you don't want a biologist teaching the bible any more than you want a priest teaching biology). Also, as Creationism isn't based on the same kind of scientific research techniques that Evolution, Gravity, and Realitivity are, then it cannot be deemed science, and therefore does not belong in a science classroom.

    • profile image

      Steve Borkowski 5 years ago

      Excellent question. I suggest you emphasize that the course would be learning ABOUT the major religions to alleviate responses of fear that there would be any indoctrination of any particular religion. I suggest readers would be encouraged to read about the teaching of religions in the Modesto, CA schools during the past 10 years and the positive results they have had. I wish

      there was a national drive for all schools to teach about religions and eventually to see it done internationaly

    • profile image

      gus 5 years ago

      i dont think religion should be taught in public schools. due to the many different religious beliefs the students have, them and their family can get offended if they are taught a different religion than their own, and it can cause many problems. People might say that their kids are being brainwashed and that they are breaking the right of free will.

    • profile image

      cc 5 years ago

      awesome

    • freemarketingnow profile image

      freemarketingnow 5 years ago from California

      I think all religions should be taught so that students can be informed citizens. However, I think there is absolute truth. Saying there is no absolute truth is already an absolute truth. Therefore, not all religions can be simultaneously correct. After all, many of them have conflicting ideas (i.e. one God versus many gods).

    • profile image

      Kyle 5 years ago

      yes it should be im sick of learning evolution. some of the teachers dont even agree with it!

    • profile image

      angel 5 years ago

      I believe Christianity should be taught in our schools that is what this nation was founded upon. I am a christian and I feel deeply offended that I can not allowed teach it let alone talk about it to people who are my own age and older without being laughed at. Or mocked. I believe that we have the right to teach it in the schools. It all comes down to freedom of speech.

    • profile image

      ME 5 years ago

      Wow this is a wonderful article I appreciate you taking you time on this. It is a topic that should not be ignored. I myself am a Muslim and I have faced many disrespectful and hurtful comments

    • profile image

      hi 5 years ago

      good article have to do something similiar to this so yeah

    • profile image

      Matthias Vella 5 years ago

      Here we are FORCED to learn religion,and ONLY christian religion,no matter what religion you belive in,or even if you are atheist (like me).I HATE the fact that people are forced to be taught religion,in fact i disagree with it being taught in public schools,instead they make a school made to TEACH ONLY religion,instead of forcing it on everyone.PLEASE think about people with different opinions,they might not be comfortable with learning other religions,PLEASE respect that.

    • profile image

      JaneDoe 5 years ago

      Without a correct understanding of one another how are we ever to find unity? And the basic ideas of many religions and the stories their religious texts tell are so alike that it is inconcievable that we can not find a common ground for us to stand on. Being a student in high school myself and living in a small town where anything different is bad, I agree 100% that religion needs to be taught in schools. Through knowledge is power and peace and togetherness and our world needs that now.

    • bschnabel profile image

      bschnabel 6 years ago from Vermont

      I totally agree all the way. There is someone I know on facebook that has been trying to convert me to Christianity. While I don't have a problem with this, I have a problem with him telling me my religion is trash. Great article. Great work!

    • profile image

      Lauren 6 years ago

      I am a Roman Catholic at a non-denominational school in Scotland, where the divide between branches of Christianity (such as Roman Catholicism and Protestanism) is very wide indeed, and have received abuse at school due to this. Religious Education is offered from 1-4th year at high school but is not compulsary there after. However, it is mostly moral decision based and does not teach about Christianty, but Islam and Judaism. I can't help feel that if we had been taugh a little bit more about our own culture and religion that people wouldn't have been s naive and narrowminded about our religion, Christianity, as a whole.

      I do also agree that by teaching world religion that future crises can be avoided as it opens the mind of children to take in other cultures and opinions.

    • profile image

      Pablo Ramirez 6 years ago

      In this case there was nothing proved,sort of rambling,therfore,speaking among many citizens "god" does not exist!!

    • profile image

      Dredzzz 6 years ago

      this article really helped me with my school's debate i thank y'all

    • Zanerus profile image

      Zanerus 6 years ago from United states

      I have mixed feelings on this topic because while I would ADORE having and more chances in high school to study religion ( I studied Buddhism and Islam in my own free time) I feel that as stated, not everyone will grab at it and learn what is needed. I think it should be understood what cultures believe in and give the basics as if explaining it in an essay, but not digging deeply into it. This is because should the person reject it, no one can force them to learn. A sad but annoying truth.

    • shazz01109 profile image
      Author

      shazz01109 6 years ago from Western Massachusetts

      Thanks for writing Brigitte. But u miss the point. if religion is taught like how history and social studies is (because religion is part history of people and culture), then maybe people will be more educated about cultures and how groups of people think and live. Think about it...

    • profile image

      brigitte  6 years ago

      I'm a student and I think religion should not be taught in schools because in my opinion (and thats all it is) is that if its taught kids may feel seperated and yes there are different schools for it. If we put it in our schools it would create great controversy because there are going to be willful students who are strong headed and will say some points are wrong. i'm agnostic and research a lot of different religions but i believe if there forced upon us to learn there will be issues.

    • profile image

      Ash 6 years ago

      I think it's very important that religions are taught in schools. I'm Muslim and Jewish and sick of being asked if I'm a terrorist, or people saying "You don't believe in God?".

    • profile image

      scholarshipsformo 6 years ago from California

      Great hub by the way. Keep it up!

    • profile image

      maiza  7 years ago

      yah its realy important for us to know what is the important of life and also how life was made

    • shazz01109 profile image
      Author

      shazz01109 7 years ago from Western Massachusetts

      Nightwork, thanks for your comment, but with all due respect, the comment shows ignorance. Nowhere in my article did I state that a person should be forced to believe in any religion or any god. That's what proselytizing is...and I'm against that. Religion can be taught as FACTS: this is what people who follow the 3 major religions believe. If you don't believe in a god, fine. It's ok to still learn what other cultures and most of the world believes. It's like creationism vs. evolution. Why does it have to be either or? The way to handle it is this: there are people who believe in creationism, and this is what it is; there are those who believe in evolution, and this is what this is. Simple. I've seen it done before w/o World War 5 happening.

    • nightwork4 profile image

      nightwork4 7 years ago from ontario. canada

      no it shouldn't be. education is suppose to be based on facts and not fiction or lets say opinion. though religion is taught in separate schools it shouldn't be a subject forced on anyone. if i don't believe in god but i pass religion then i've made myself into a very good liar. prove beyond any doubt that god exists and then prove what religion is the right one and maybe then it could be taught.

    • shazz01109 profile image
      Author

      shazz01109 7 years ago from Western Massachusetts

      Wow Hi-jinks. That teacher was wrong for doing that. There is a way of teaching religion without preaching about it either way. Regardless, religion should be taught in public schools, and can be done correctly.

    • Hi-Jinks profile image

      Hi-Jinks 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      I went to a Lutheran High School. One teacher taught his hatred of Catholics. He taught for many year. Add up the damage.

    • shazz01109 profile image
      Author

      shazz01109 7 years ago from Western Massachusetts

      The comments keep coming! I agree that religion should be taught at the high school level. The way to have true freedom of religious thought, freedom of religion, and open mindedness is to have people learn about it from a cultural and historical perspective, not for proselyting or converting.

    • profile image

      Rookie70 7 years ago

      Religion should be taught maybe on a highschool to college level for students who can make intelligent decisions on what to believe. In grade school or junior high, it's not such a good idea, because these are young hearts too easy to steer down a wrong path. I personally have studied different belief systems in college, but I know that there is only one pure religion, the God of Heaven and Earth, and his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Span Star, give a person all the choices then let them make the choice, all religions are fundamentally good if you leave the extremist out of them.

    • SpanStar profile image

      SpanStar 7 years ago

      Religion use to be taught in American Schools. The first teachers in this nation were Nuns.

      If various religions are to be taught in school then I have rethink my idea of having religion taught in school. Teaching various religions doesn't give that person a foundation to stand on. That would make them even more confused about their belief which could lead to no committment. Look around, we as people use to be clasified by our religious belief however America stands out as having no religion but there are countries which are still Jewish, Buddha, Muslim, etc. America use to be Christian but now when it comes to religion it's Godless according to the actions of our government- removing the Ten Commandments out of all public buildings, No Christmas cards can be sent or received in public schools unless they are non-denominational. Teaching religion in public schools would help but in order for it work adults have to demonstrated what being respectful looks like.

    • John B Badd profile image

      John B Badd 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

      Shazz, I agree that religion should be thought in schools. This is an argument I have had with my liberal and conservative friends. They shut it out at the first sentence instead of listening. If all religions are taught from a theological standpoint without any bias towards one over another then this could work. There are open minded teachers who are capable of teaching without warping things with their own views. It does not have to be a recruitment station of religion, just a class like geography. I also think ethics, logic, and philosophy should be taught in public schools starting around 5th grade. We underestimate what the children are capable of learning. By expanding their minds we open their eyes and give them the tools they need in the real world. English, math and science are important tools but there is more to the world. We are educating people not training robots. Sorry for the rant but I feel strongly about education and hate to see the U.S. at the bottom of the totem pole. Good post.

    • profile image

      qwerty 7 years ago

      I dont know about everywhere else, but in Ontario there is a grade 11 World Religions course offered (HRT3M)

    • topgunjager profile image

      topgunjager 7 years ago from Sunnyvale, CA

      religion should be kept in prisons=)

    • profile image

      Nia L 7 years ago

      Very nice article!

    • Hi-Jinks profile image

      Hi-Jinks 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      How do they learn? Who writes the books for the students to study these cultures? How did you learn history? Did the winners write it? That will be your biggest clue.

    • shazz01109 profile image
      Author

      shazz01109 7 years ago from Western Massachusetts

      Hi,

      Of course students can learn about other religions and cultures. They learn about other cultures by going on educational field trips don't they? Perhaps I'm naive, but I'm still an optimist:)

    • Hi-Jinks profile image

      Hi-Jinks 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      Math and reading are not enough? Many students can't do math or read. Expecting a toleration of differences is a stretch. And who would teach this?

      When people are open minded great things can happen, but not in this world. Too bad. Good Luck.