Why Religion Should Be Taught in Public Schools

I support the separation of church and state and feel that religious doctrine has no place in our government, in our general community programs or in corporate environments. A secular society is the only way to support all citizens' rights to practice the religion of their choice. However, given the prevalence of religion in our current society, I do think religion has a place in the public school system--specifically as part of the social studies curriculum.

Religion, or religious freedom, is a major element of American society. For many, religion is a significant part of their cultural identity. Religion plays a part in all levels of politics and is often an aspect of community events and organizations. Everyday, we all interact with people who have different religious backgrounds and personal beliefs.

Children born into religious families are indoctrinated from birth and this affects the way they will see the world for the rest of their lives. Even those who later explore other faiths, convert to other religions or emerge as nonbelievers will be affected in subtle ways by their family religion. We are a product of our upbringing, no matter how our later life experiences may change us.

By excluding any talk of religion from public school systems, we do our children a disservice. Instead of educating our children about the diverse backgrounds of American citizens, we teach them to keep religion to themselves and only be exposed to religious ideas at home. The problem with this approach is that most children only learn about their own family religion and may not even realize that other people do not share their beliefs.

Perhaps a better approach is to bring religion into the public school curriculum as a part of the social studies program. If all major religious beliefs--and the lack of belief--are given equal weight and discussed objectively, we may go a long way toward creating a society where religious differences are respected.

The problems with bringing religion into public schools arise when religious followers attempt to insert religion where it doesn't belong. It makes sense for religious discussion to show up in social studies or history courses. Yet religion does not belong in math, science, health or physical education programs.

There are some gray areas, which may be better left to a secular curriculum, though an argument can be made either way. For example, religion has had a profound impact on art, music and literature. Yet introducing religious topics in these subjects would have to carefully balance elements of many different religions to avoid showing favor to any one belief system.

In my children's public school system, religion becomes a more prominent part of the history curriculum beginning with ninth grade. Religion is discussed as part of cultural identity and in the context of how it has shaped both local and world history. The high school also offers a comparative religion course as an elective.

All of this helps students see that there are other belief systems, yet by this age many kids have only experienced their own family religion and have a difficult time understanding how others could believe anything else. By introducing comparative religion elements at a younger age, we may have an easier time promoting respect for a variety of faiths and for those who do not believe in a supernatural god.

15 comments:

  1. I disagree completely and hope you will understand my opposing view.
    If religion is allowed in public schools, it cracks the door for monopoly. Like it or not, this is a Christian nation. The Christians will undoubtedly only wish their religion taught. Allow any other religion, and the Christians will storm the castle.
    Muslims will never stand for Judaism being taught to their children. Every theist will only allow their children to learn the religion of their family. It's called indoctrination and it's exactly what the parents want. What they don't want is for their child to be exposed to alternate possibilities, including atheism.
    Atheist's want the same thing. They want to give their children what they see as the truth, without having their children exposed to any gods.
    I think the most difficult undertaking, would be the bias each teacher would have when presenting the material. They could not help but sell their own product. Secondly, the school board could not possibly compile a curriculum that treated every religion equally. For instance, Islam is not simply a religion, it is a totalitarian political system devised to govern Islamic states. The number of possible deities and doctrines is voluminous, which would have to include Scientology, Mormonism, Satanism and Pastafarianism.
    Religion, in my humble opinion, deserves nothing less than obliteration, but if one must learn it, they should learn it in their house of worship or at home. I leave the Internet to teach spiritual diversity, the same as it does for sex education in this country. Every teenage boy knows how to do a Google Image search for "Nude Babes" when he's ready to explore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm dong a topic on why we should have religion in school.Because in life it will happend were your gonna get that quetion asked. and i strongly belive that we (students) should learn the basic a religon! And parent should talk to there kid about this.

      Delete
    2. Old thread but thought it might be worth posting anyway since this just came up for a teacher friend of mine. It is impossible to teach a music history class without teaching music written specifically for the church as for many years it was the only way an artist of any kind could make a living, and some of the most beautiful pieces had their basis in religious belief. Before 1900 most western music was written completely for this purpose. Would you not teach about Michelangelo and the sistine chapel in an art class simply because of it's religious origins? There's a difference between proselytising in schools and teaching things with an historical context and kids would most certainly be missing out if they weren't taught a large part of our history.

      Delete
  2. Kenny, I found your original comment. It had automatically gone to the spam folder for some unknown reason. I marked it as "not spam" and the comment returned.

    That's the first time I've had that happen, but I'll start keeping an eye on the spam folder in case any other legitimate comments get lost.

    ReplyDelete
  3. 150iloveharrypotterseries41May 30, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    There are many aspects in this argument that demonstrate a bad claim. First off, the public schools are not doing a disservice to the students by not including religion in the course work; on the contrary it is providing a positive situation. The public school system is a location that provides students with an environment that is filled with diversity; many different variations of ethnicities and religions coexist together for most of the day, 3/4ths of the year. Therefore, the students (especially those raised in public schools) are consistently surrounded with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and experience with different cultures. The public schools should not be blamed for the lack of religious knowledge displayed by religious children; the guardians/caregivers help develop the beliefs of the child therefore they should also take responsibility for the child’s religious tolerance. Furthermore, another difficulty presented in this argument is that every person has a different perspective on what the ‘main religions’ are. Everyone has their own opinion on what religion is important and which ones are superfluous so trying to create a curriculum that teaches the ‘main religions’ would cause disagreement and disharmony. Students that did not practice one of the ‘main religions’ would feel disenfranchised with the education, others could be put off by what religions were chosen to be considered ‘main’ and even before the class was developed the administrators would have problems figuring out which religions would be taught because there are so many in the U.S that are practiced daily by a piece of the population. In continuation, teaching religion in the subject of history does not actually make sense. The basis of history is to retell past events and facts that legitimately happened. On the topic of religions, the people who do not practice that particular faith may not consider what is preached to be actual history, or truthful, thus turning the subject into relative fiction more than completed actions. Also, providing religion classes in public schools creates the possibility of a bias from the teacher. Since the teacher must lecture about multiple religions they may not be fully informed on different aspects of faith so some of the ‘main religions’ could be focused on more compared to others or a few of the religions are falsely represented.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, there are complications. However, colleges and high schools do offer comparative religion classes. The curriculum is well established.

    Religion has greatly affected the history of our world, particularly when it comes to conflicts or wars. It's well within the realm of a history class to explain how the beliefs of people in power have shaped their political decisions. (Which can frequently be evidenced by their own words.)

    The idea of teaching comparative religion is not to present the various faiths as if they were fact, but rather to show that different people have different beliefs. It's an overview of major world religions, not an in-depth course on any one faith.

    Comparative religion classes help to teach tolerance. They also encourage students to think about what they actually believe, and how those beliefs affect their actions.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Religion should be a choice and christianity should not be the main perspective. It should consist of all religions in every culture. To brawdin a child's view on the religious aspects of humanity.

    ReplyDelete
  6. We fear what we don't understand. The true sign of intelligence is being able to entertain an idea without accepting it. We should show our children the other religions of the world and dispell any myths they have heard, but can't prove wrong and thus accept them. We need to let people get into conversations and debates (as long as they are respectful) about their religions and personal beliefs. It is a part of higher thinking. Anyone can be trained to remember and then regurgitate facts, but to defend and discuss a point of view takes intelligence, something our society is lackin today.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree with the comment above me. Teaching others about various religions will lessen the gaps between cultureas and races and it might even help with prejudices, which could in turn stop some wars and reduce the killing in the world. godd for everyone ya?

    ~Xamesh Simolo

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm doing an essay on this topic and you commets help a lot thanks.if you have any more info that would be great! because this eassy wil be handed to my principal and this has to be good this should be in my school! The conficts would go down alot

    ReplyDelete
  9. I love how people think that everything on earth in all its beautiful diversity, was some sort of cosmic boo boo. pahlease...I know the questions will rise about where did God come from after this statement and i have no answers but, how in the world can everything we know just appear out of nowhere and life evolve to what it is now? If no God exists then there was no creation. Without some sort of creation, we wouldnt be here. you cant take an empty void and fill it with some hopeful idea of a ball exploding and creating everything we know today. something somewhere along the way had to be created first. You say "Well, the atoms were floating around, came together, formed this or formed that...whatever, atoms dont form themselves. for that matter small incredibly dense exploding rocks dont just create themselves either. These "facts" evolutionists and atheists come up with are hilarious in their absurdity. I realize that without explaining how God got there my arguement is kind of hilarious to you guys as well but cmon man....rocks appearing and exploding out of empty space, me in all my rediculously complicated biological systems came from unicellular organisms without thought. Not buying it

    ReplyDelete
  10. While I agree with the general idea, inserting it into a history class would not be an adequate solution. As a whole, we should be more informed on various religions, but history classes have enough trouble getting through the material currently assigned to them. Having this sort of thing be an elective course similar to leadership or band classes in middle school and high school makes more sense to me. While having it be optional is unfortunate, I think it's unavoidable at this point.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for contributing your important time to post such an interesting & useful collection.It would be knowledgeable & resources are always of great need to everyone. Please keep continue sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Argumentative essay is one of the most difficult types of essays I've ever written. If you need help with this one, follow the link.

    ReplyDelete