Should Comparative Religion Be Taught to Our Children in School?

After the post I wrote last week on Respecting Families of Other Religions, I got to thinking about how the entire subject of religion is approached in schools.

In the USA, our Constitution guarantees a separateness of Church and State, such that one religion cannot be established as a State Religion, and thereby forced down everyone’s throat.  But these days, unfortunately, with even things like prayer in schools being frowned upon, the inverse of “State Religion” is taking place, where students never get a proper grounding on what religion is, and what the people and families and traditions around them believe.

There are a lot of problems with coming up with a curriculum for teaching comparative religion in school.  The biggest one is making sure that, if you’re going to “teach” religion, that all religions thus taught are fairly represented.

And the only way to make sure they’re fairly represented, would be to make sure that the source of the text on each religion actually came from that religion itself.

I got a chance to mix with and discuss philosophy extensively with people of various religious persuasions while at the Volunteer Minister tent on the National Mall.

After seeing the way that the media can mistreat, misunderstand, and misconstrue what my own religion is about, I know that the only information I’d trust on finding out about the Catholic Church, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Mormonism, etc, would be in a statement that religion actually made on the subject.

What about the idea of having a comparative religion text, where each religion was given 15 or 20 pages to give a good overview on their beliefs and practices, what they stand for, what their morals are, and what it means to call oneself member.  Then, should the student desire more information, that religion can give suggestions on how best to find out more.  I.e. what texts to read, where to go, who to talk to, etc.    Even if all major religions and belief systems were to be represented, the volume would still be of approximately the same size as a normal textbook.

Such a text would bypass any misunderstandings or misconceptions that even trans-religious scholars might have on each religion, and would give every religion a fair shot at being understood by the general population.

 

Imagine, as well, if a generation of our youth were so-educated, the strides that could be made in international peace and understanding, as opposed to growing up in a world where even speaking of religion is increasingly shunned in school.

What do you think?

3 thoughts on “Should Comparative Religion Be Taught to Our Children in School?

  • November 5, 2014 at 2:03 am
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    Great idea! I’d support that taught in schools, written and studied from that aspect. I also agree it could go a good way toward increasing understanding and tolerance of all of those around us and around the globe. The atheistic and agnostic viewpoints should also probably be included, for the same reasons.

    Reply
  • November 5, 2014 at 8:14 pm
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    I really enjoy reading your blog. Thank you for your thoughts and insights.

    Reply
  • January 2, 2015 at 3:46 am
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    Hi,
    I’m not a parent but I love your blog. : ) I think your idea is good, but most religions tend to splinter, when different people have different ideas on what that religion is about. And that usually results in centuries of distrust, opposition, and even warfare. So it might be hard to get an ‘official’ version from every religion, or even just the major ones. (Think Catholics–Roman and Orthodox– vs. Protestants, Sunni vs. Shiite Muslims, Orthodox vs. Reform Jews, Tibetan Buddhism vs. Japanese Buddhism (not so violent a split, but still…) And there are all sorts of flavors of modern-day Pagans… and lots of religions have tiny populations–there are still Zoroastrians around! Who would be ‘official’ enough to be represented in your book? Or it might turn out to be a bigger book than you think!

    Reply

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