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Should religion be taught in schools?

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762 comments

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2

Only comparative religions. I think an overview of all world religions so everyone had a look at all the religions of the world, and a discussion that includes where you are born will influence which faith or lack thereof you will be exposed to most frequently. Religions are part of history, education is the cure for ignorance. Well, usually.

196

yes 100%. I once read a great quote:

“Teach children one religion and you indoctrinate them. Teach them many religions and you inoculate them.” — Unknown

RonnieD Level 5 Oct 19, 2017

I like that I may have to use that at some point

gonna transport this quote over to my facebook.. gonna steal it
::maniacal hand rubbing commences::

I like this but I wonder what we are innoculating them with

That is a nice quote!

Oh great quote...

i love it , may I share this?

@btroje innoculate them Scepticism. Teach thwm it's not what to think, but how to think.

@btroje inoculate them against brainwashing - if they see so many religions they have to realise they can't all be true, and that the one you believe in is almost certainly geographic.

@Funeralgirl

As a jr high social studies teacher, I do teach many religions from around the world to my students. I of course, can not advocate my personal beliefs, but I do enjoy that we compare and contrast them and they see the places they overlap and that there are many older than the one they have been taught here in the US. I try to be subtle but I point out the overlapping areas and hope it gets them thinking....

I love it!!! That one should go round the world!

I agree. History of religion and the origin of traditions as well as the common themes and motives should be a series of courses in schools.

That would mean that you would be teaching them 100s of religions, taking up massive amounts of time, on something that has no practical use. That would be a waste of an education, as it would be the only education that they would get.

Teaching as a cultural/political historical phenomenon rather than as a belief system makes sense to me.

@RobCampbell great way to put it. Agree

Innoculations cause autism!!!! /s

In a public school? What grade? Is it a world history class? Do the kids talk about their religion? @JenSelby

@Norie Public school, 6th and 7th grade, world history class. They can talk about their religion if they want to keep it brief, because we have lots of material to cover. It usually comes up when we are doing the comparisons.

@AKS74UPBS1 Don't act stupid. Do you think that the Dutch don't realize that? They are nót stupid. Isn't teaching them about the major religions enough too make them realize that if you want to be respected, you also have to give respect?

@AKS74UPBS1 Not teaching them 100s of religions but teaching them ABOUT 100s of religions. Most kids would surely then see that they all can't be true therfore none of them are likely to be true. I can't think of a better way to educate children.

Education is the key to many of or ills. People need to know about the option of no religion as well. I had a comment on facebook from a religious person who could not believe I have morals or a social conscience.

@DJVJ311 hahaha I just saw this lol

I agree in that it would be taught from in a anthropological, historical & sociological context.

I really like this! I think that teaching a variety of religions provides not only different value sets, but also entire different ways of thinking (especially in punishment, long term vs short term reward and punishment)

@bonobos48 100% yes

50

Religion should ONLY be taught in

  1. Comparative or World Religions class
  2. Literature
  3. History (describing the impact religions have had on human civilization)
    Religion should NOT be taught as fact in history or science classes, or anywhere else for that matter.
icolan Level 7 Nov 10, 2017

Hi icolan,
paradoxically, religious history is factual.
Do you consider the impact religions have, and indeed are having, on human civilization to have, all things considered, yielded a net positive or negative result?

Overall, I consider religion's impact to be net negative.

Imagine, if you will, a world that has never seen the rise of religion.
People are never told they are evil and inherently worthless just because of something fictional characters supposedly did (Adam & Eve).
Great thinkers and scientists are never threatened with death for coming up with an idea that explains something in the natural world because it violates doctrine.
Children are not taught to hate others because their 'god' or holy book says they are the chosen people and thus better than everyone else.
People are not tortured and killed because their neighbor reported them for heresy.(Dark Ages) For that matter religious heresy and blasphemy would never exist.

Now, I am not saying it would be all roses. Humans can find plenty of reasons to kill each other and to go to war against each other. Overall, I think it would be better. Imagine where science and technology would be if the ancient Arabian society that invented modern math had not been overcome by religion, or where 'western' science would be if we have not passed through a 1000 year dark age caused by religion.

"paradoxically, religious history is factual."

Religious history is factual, but not when it is taught from the holy book of those religions. There is a lot more fantasy and horror in those holy books than there is provable fact.

Yes, or, as someone suggested, as a survey class.

36

Absolutely! But it should be taught along with every other religion as a theory, NOT as fact.

I think it is a waist of time

Well, maybe calling it a theory is a bit more than I would credit religion with but hypothesis might be a better word.

Even hypothesis is a stretch; though it's closer, it implies that the claim is falsifiable, which of course it isn't. There's nothing scientific about it, and we shouldn't give it more credence then it deserves by labeling it with scientific terminology.

Shouldn't be taught in the science classroom at all. Work it in somewhere with social studies, history (not biblical history but history of origins) but yes alongside many other religions and ideas but not as a fact. Philosophy would also have a lot of valid use for religion.

I'm a supply teacher, and when I have to teach R.E. I always preface my remarks with "some people believe that....." and then whatever I'm supposed to be teaching them. And I always finish with "so what do you think?". And depending on how ludicrous the story/religion is I might even say "Can you actually believe that some people think that's true????????" and burst into laughter. Serves them right.

23

Yes, it is necessary to understand history; religion is the motivation of countless wars, genocide, imperialism, persecutions, etc. But no religion should be taught as "truth".

20

I use to teach high school social studies, and in world geography, it did talked about the three main religions. It is done as history and in a comparative way. No one religion was made to appear right or wrong, or better or worse. I think it's up to the individual to decide. The purpose of school is to teach various things in the hope that it creates critical thinking, so students can work through concepts and make decisions on what works best for them.

mbhorner Level 4 Sep 23, 2017

agree with you

That is without a doubt the best response I've read so far. Thank you.

What do you mean by "the three main" ? To me that would be Buddhism, Hinduism and the "religion of the Book", or Abrahamic, which includes Jewish, Christian and Moslem. Or, if you count the Abrahamic as three, then I count more than three main ones...?

@ZebZaman if you're going on numbers of followers (in millions), the big 3 are:

Christianity 2,430, Islam 1,800, Hinduism 1,150. Buddhism is 520, just above Folk religions 400.

Hindu, Buddism and what was the third?

17

I have no problem with religion being taught from a historical perspective, including how various religions have been (and continue to be) drivers of history, both positively and negatively. What should not happen is any sort of indoctrination regarding the tenents of a particular religious view.

whoHearer Level 5 Dec 7, 2017
16

No. Separation of church and state is VERY important to me.

JLsobel Level 3 Sep 16, 2017

I hate communicating through text because so much of communicating is with body language and the nuance and meaning can be easily misinterpreted. I am not criticising your view, but rather, tossing out another aspect that you may not be considering.
If the question were "Should religion be promoted in schools," I would agree but the study of theology isn't a subject that should be left off the curriculum, and it isn't a question of church-state separation. If you disagree with this point, I would very much like to hear your views.

I agree

I agree with that, Church and state SHOULD be kept separate. It stops society from being too heavily influenced by one singular Religion, and stops things like mandatory Religious belief. BUT I think it should be taught in schools. Religion is a big part of society, and has a heavy variety. Teaching students about the various religions can help prepare them for the inevitable day that they meet someone with an varying viewpoint. The trick is that they should ALL be at least introduced, make it its own separate class. Don't teach math or science or english from a religious standpoint, but rather teach Religion from an unbiased one.

And yet in the US you have much more religious extremism (mainly christian) than we do here in the UK, where religion is taught in all schools. How do you explain that?

The goal would be not to teach religion of any sort, but the impact religion has had on human societal development. Religion, like it or not, has had a huge impact on this planet. Ensuring an unbiased presentation might be difficult.

15

It is one thing to teach people ABOUT religion. One can hardly understand history and culture without some understanding of religion. It is something else for public resources to be used to indoctrinate.

A2Jennifer Level 7 Oct 26, 2017

only time you get lean anything about religion in schools now is at chrismas

@clementsjt which is not really about religion.

13

I think that the problem most people (myself included) have with religion being taught in public school is that Christians want the religious concept of creationism taught in science class alongside the Theory of Evolution. Since most Christians rely on their bible for their education as well as their belief system, they have a misunderstanding about what a scientific theory actually is. They take the term "theory" to be a misnomer, believing that evolution is as unproved as creationism. Anyone who believes the two to be on a comparable level is incorrect, however, as the established theory of evolution is one which has withstood the rigorous scrutiny of the scientific method and been proved. Creationism has not, and thus has no business being taught as a scientific principle. The only place for religion in public school is in a theology class, preferably one that teaches about all religions and doesn't only focus on one.

Only in the USA, mostly. In Europe no one even considers teaching creationism "alongside" evolution. It sounds like teaching the earth centred world view or even flat earth alongside the ( locally) heliocentric view. Europe seem sto have a more grown up version of Christianity. Why I feel in Europe it would be easier from me to still be part of Christian life as opposed to totally secular. But I am not living in Europe, only come from there.

That's horrifying ! No that wouldn't happen in the UK - it would be laughed out of class.

@ZebZaman - I'm disappointed you still have a yearning to be "part of christian life". I find that very sad - not believing is fantastic!

@Agnostic1 no reason to be disappointed. I'm not going to be part of any service soon. I guess what I'm saying would take longer to elaborate, I'm no atheist. But there isn't much in terms of together celebration of anything that I feel totally at home or at ease with. But some of european Christian expression to me is a lot less hideous than what I've seen from some of these tele-mega-churches in the US. I sit or walk in nature and breathe. That's my "church" service. Among all other stuff I do. My idea of God isn't that far removed from what atheists simply call "reality". ( not if you get deeper into it... what exactly IS real?) I think in our day and time being an atheist is a perfectly valid way to be. But I'm pretty happy with my take on reality.

13

I don't support teaching religion in primary and high school. I had religious education as a youth and it was more a promotion of Christianity with extremely limited emphasis on other faiths. At university level, I was very pleased taking a Religions of the World course that focused on all faiths with no prejudice and even focused on agnostics and atheist.

Jeeee123 Level 3 Sep 19, 2017

no way I ever going to support brainwash the kids with religion in schools.
I agree with you. It is the worse thing you can do, to young minds.

I think we had it lucky our religious studies tutor actually gave us the ability to debate our views. I remember watching the life of Brian in class and actually having an open discussion of how we thought then we watched the documentary about how it was viewed as blasphemous and had a further debate, one of my favourite memories of school

12

I have no problem with teaching kids about the different major religions as long as they are all taught as different religions, not one of them as being "True".

Public tax funded schools, should however, not teach a class only about one religion, especially if it is being taught as "Truth".

Twiggy Level 1 Sep 29, 2017
12

Depending on the context I'm not opposed. I actually find more atheists are well educated on religion than believers are. We don't tend to cherry pick what we want out of the books

NO, it is the worse thing to do. teaching none sense is wrong, no matter where take place.

@tonia - there are ways to teach it, so that children's minds are opened to the possibilities of judging for themselves whether it's nonsense. Your idea just makes kids easier to indoctrinate when they go to church/mosque/synagogue.

@GoldenDoll children and young people who are ignorant to the major religions, their customs, history, and current impact are... Ignorant! Ignorance, deliberate ignorance is not the way to raise young people. Knowledge of the common world religions will help a young person in many aspects of adulthood, including understanding politics and social policy, the world stage, business dealings, inter personal interactions, all sorts of areas where to be ignorant is to be at a disadvantage.

@KayAllDay I think your comment needs to be directed to @tonia

@GoldenDoll thank you Goldendoll. Having a working knowledge of what these religions are is far different than indoctrination. I recall learning about Greek mythology in school, but wasn’t forced to believe in it. Education is the key to understanding why theists believe what they do.

10

All religions yes, in mythology class.

But also, "Don't pray in my schools and I won't think in your churches".

Good one. LOL

10

In a comparative religions class or in historical context? Yes, of course. Ignoring religion as a part of the shaping of society and people would be ignorant. But taught as doctrine? Absolutely not.

10

Strictly from an academic perspective, with all of the contradictions and evil it brings. No leaning towards belief, just a cold, factual class.

10

There is a huge difference between education and indoctrination.

Unfortunately the religious tend to see the second as the first.

ToakReon Level 7 Sep 10, 2017

The religions make people stupid.

I agree.

I agree.

9

They should be taught as Myths, the same way the Greek and Egyptian religions are.

AlexRam Level 7 Jan 15, 2019

That might get the religous nuts stirred up.

9

Religion is a central aspect of all cultures and religious literacy is vital to multiculturalism and tolerance. So, yes it should be taught but not in a devotional way. High school students should be taught a comparative religions course so that they understand the beliefs of others and are not gullible to hate messages regarding one religious tradition or another. The course should also explain atheism, agnosticism and Humanism.

9

Religion has no place in the class room. It greatly inhibits free thought and rational thinking

GodlessDJ Level 3 Nov 12, 2017
8

I would support religion being taught in public schools. ALL religions without a preference of one over another or an attempt to convert but to inform.

Pen-n-Ink Level 6 June 9, 2018

What a big loss of time. Let's teach physics, chemistry, mathematics, poetry, music, literature, history, geography, computer programming, whatever, but not religion.

8

The only religion that should be taught in school is the history of it and it's impact mankind. Definitely not the fictional stories in the book.

Ometiklan Level 4 Nov 11, 2017
8

As a part of human history religion should be taught, but not just one religion, a broad overview of religions especially how they have evolved, each appropriating myths from earlier religions. Honesty must prevail, the brutal history of religions must be included.

7

Comparative religion should be taught in a short compulsory course. It’s not necessary to go into the depths but a survey of the world’s major and minor religions and their distinguishing features would help people, I think.

Denker Level 7 Jan 13, 2019

I tried to introduce my children to as many different religions as I could find books about. They learned every one of them. I told them they were under no obligation to believe anything they didn't want to believe. PERIOD. Neither are religious as far as I know.
When they went to state funded pre-school (I worked, divorced) the school made them also say the lords prayer. I told the head honcho at the school they better stop forcing children to follow their ridiculous beliefs. They said they will continue praying. I said NO YOU WON'T. I called the state board of education and since they got federal funding were required to stop IMMEDIATELY. Case closed!! If the kids refused to say it they got slapped on the hands with a ruler. Now that's how you can tell a real practicing christian.

7

A comparative class would be appropriate to inform students of the nature of the world's religions. It's amazing just how ignorant most people are about the world's religions, even their own. Teaching just one as fact is illegal and should be.

ldheinz Level 7 June 17, 2018
7

In theory, absolutely. But all religions and the history. In practice, my guess is that in many parts of the US, it will degenerate into trying to focus on preaching one religion.

Geoff Level 5 Dec 7, 2017

thall happen in most places around the world not just the US to be honest smile001.gif

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