Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Teaching Religion in Public Schools

The issue of religion in the public schools has risen to a point where it cannot be ignored any longer. Apparently, there is an international push, complete with a final report, to study religion in public schools, according to today’s News-Leader.

Charles Haynes, the writer of the opinion piece, stated: “the report urges nations to take religion seriously in education and provides a human rights framework for including fair, accurate study about religions and beliefs in the classroom.”

I’m all for it. As a pre-service teacher, I think it is important for us to talk about religion, religious culture, and the influence of religion on belief systems and political governments, starting in elementary school. Further, I believe we should do so in a scholarly manner and not a religious manner. I think putting a “human rights framework” into the picture is fine, but the question must be asked: Is putting a “human rights framework” on the religious study a form of religious doctrine?

Some people do not want their religion to be portrayed within a “human rights framework” because they feel that is some sort of liberal, secular way to strip God of his wrath and air condition Hell. I think that goes for some who believe in Christianity and Islam as well as other religions.

It is certainly worth talking about. Let’s face it. I am a Christian but I see Christianity very different than say crazy Fred Phelps. Even if we teach religion in schools, there will be problems and objections.


Sky Girl said...

I think the thoughtful study of religion would be a good way to help our children develop tolerance for others. As long as no one took that opportunity to teach one religion as "right" or better than others, I think the study of religion has a place in public schools.



if we do study religion that way, what becomes of "one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all"?

Pardon my French, but that seems like a wee endorsement.

Level the field... or don't. I don't care. But make it right.

Jason said...

To deny that religion impacts the world and is a viable subject for study is foolish. Teaching it does not constitute endorsement of the religion. However, it's a sticky situation because if you say they're all right or you can't any of them are then you're endorsing a religious POV.