General Question

Upward's avatar

Should we be teaching religion in public schools?

Asked by Upward (740points) April 4th, 2008

Would we not have a better understanding of the world around us, if all the world religions we taught to us as children?

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63 Answers

RedmannX5's avatar

I completely disagree with schools teaching a single religion, because it never gives any kid a chance to make up his own mind about what religion he wants to be. It’s the whole “bobble head affect”. However, I don’t think it would be bad if kids were taught an unbiased and equal amount of all religions. I do think it would take a very long time to do so though, and it could take a way from more important subjects (in my opinion) such as mathematics and writing.

misses_chainsaw's avatar

I absolutely believe that we should teach religion in school. We should learn about all cultures and their beliefs. What I have a problem with is pushing religion on someone. We need to be more aware about the world and it’s people. Not doing so causes ignorance and hatred, because as we all know hatred stems from ignorance. Knowledge is everything.

Upward's avatar

My thought was just that, if we had a generation of kids fully aware of other cultures and their belief systems, we would be better as a nation and a culture.

delirium's avatar

Only if its world religion by an unbiased teacher.

otherwise NO.

RedmannX5's avatar

I’m just curious iSteve, why don’t you think it should be taught?

jrpowell's avatar

Start with science. Leave the fairy tails for Sunday School.

Breefield's avatar

@delirium

There’s no such thing as someone who’s unbiased about what they believe, otherwise they don’t truly believe it.

You can either do, one “unbiased” teacher, or many completely biased teachers that would give their pitch on their own religion.

El_Cadejo's avatar

I think we should teach about it but like delirium said it shouldnt be any singular religion it should be a vast majority of them. I think it would promote better understanding of other cultures.

RedmannX5's avatar

@Breefield: If you’re a good teacher though, you can censor/edit how you teach

delirium's avatar

Breefield: I know…. I think religion should be taught as mythology. We learn about greek mythology. There’s no difference.

babygalll's avatar

I went to a private school and religion was taught everyday. Even though it was taught everyday we were never forced to believe something we didn’t want to. We were also taught about the different religions and cultures out there. A lot of people are ignorant when it comes to religion and cultures. They think that only Christians and non Christians in this world. So yes, I believe religion should be taught in the public schools and educate the children of the different religions and cultures out there. These children are our future.

Randy's avatar

I don’t think it should. A teacher is gonna lean one way or the other on certain religions. Itd be so impossible to pull off.

jrpowell's avatar

Damn.. finish teaching the kids math and English first. Seriously, the kids can’t spell. Fix that shit first.

Upward's avatar

So many kids are brainwashed into believing whatever religion their parents happen to believe. If they had a basic understanding of religions in general, they just might be more prepared to discover their own “TRUTH”.

Breefield's avatar

There’s absolutely no guarantee that a teacher will censor their bias though. I see it all the time in high school even now, teachers promoting their religion. The only one of my teachers who doesn’t is my bio and math teacher.

Zaxwar91's avatar

What must be understood, is that religion is looked at differently by everyone, and that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. God COULD Exist, or he might not, either way whatever we decide to teach our children in school is ASOLUTLY influenced by their teachers, friends and family members.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Yea but i dont think it should be taught in a way of my god your god thing. More like the approach schools take when teaching about mythology. These people believe this…. They believe their god or gods do this…. and so on. Not our holy lord jesus christ rose from the grave blah blah blah

Zaxwar91's avatar

I agree, religion should be taught in such a way, yet then again you get those few religouse exentrics who believe that its their way or the high way, and its that mentality that has caused countless wars, it wont change, but i agree with uberbatman

adrianscott's avatar

I admit I’m completely non-religous whatsoever. Though in saying that I do think religion should be taught in school, but in a separate ‘religion studies’ class. It covers much of our history, our philosophy and many other aspects of our lives, I think it should be included. That being said, I think many different religions need to be included in the fold, without a bias to any one religion… though that’d be hard to accomplish.

Other than that, religion needs to be kept out of the sciences. I know that some people have issues with it considering evolution and such, but with elements of science that is so widely accepted like the theory of evolution, it should be something that everyone knows and understands as to not lead to general ignorance.

Just my 2 cents… from an Athiest.

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Zaxwar91's avatar

Exactly! Religion should be taught in a matter that isnt going to offend or criticise anyone. It should be taught as a class, not a religion, and thats the way it should be. Let people believe what they want, it not our buisness what they think, only what they think.

shared3's avatar

I am staunchly atheist, as in I do not simply doubt the existence of god, I am confident in my belief that god does not exist. However, I think religion should definetly be taught in school. I love history, and I enjoy reading about other cultures and their religions in class. However, religion must be restricted to classes like history, philosophy, speech and debate. It should never be considered in hard sciences, except in certain, specific situations, such as when addressing issues of bioethics or something. Basically, I agree with adrianscott, except for the part about a separate religion studies class. Sure, that can happen in college or something, but in K-12 schools, it should be taught in history as it has to do with different cultures. A few simple rules must be enforced though, such as that certain religions can never be favored over others or religions disparaged by teachers, etc.

Megan64's avatar

As part of a world history/cultures class, but it’s hard for a teacher to not let their own beliefs sneak in, even if they try not to.

Religion can be an interesting and valuable topic if taught correctly.

Zaxwar91's avatar

sense your just getting in on the conversation we have been discussing this for almost the past hour, and most of us have agreed with you Megan64. Religion should be taught as a class and not in the concept of religion, otherwise we offend other people and their cultures. And by the way, your right with what you say about the teacher it would be really hard not to sneak in what they really believe, but that just another reason why we should think about letting religion be taught un public schools.

shared3's avatar

Just because its hard doesn’t mean its not worth doing. One of my most favorite teachers of all time was a history teacher that once explained why we study religion in history. Sure, he was raised Irish Catholic, but he is a good teacher and can separate religion from his teaching. Using the biased teacher argument seems ludicrous to me. Isn’t there supposed to be a separation between church and state? Well, does that mean nobody in government can go to church?

Zaxwar91's avatar

of course not, but again, what we must understand is that it really depends on the person. Your history teacher was a good teacher, but what happens when a bad one comes along. I didnt say that we shouldnt teach religion in public schools, just that we should think about what were doing first. First of all, not every teacher is the same, and that fact in itself could be dangerouse indeed. Secondly there aremany different6 religions out there and i dont think that one person would do a very good job at explaining religions that arent their own. In fact, religion being taught in schools would best be taught by someone who doesnt have a religion, although this agian is dangerouse.

bassist_king1's avatar

I think that they shouldn’t force it, since everyone has different views, but just offer classes for religion as options, like they do with woodshop or computers or foods etc.

Zaxwar91's avatar

Pretty much what iv been saying. Taught as a class not as religion

shared3's avatar

I don’t think classes should be offered for specific religions as part of a public K-12 school, at least not the normal ones (ignoring charters, and such). That’s the church’s job.

@Zaxwar91, good point with the bad teachers part, but still. there really is no way of seeing if someone will be too biased or anything. i am advocating for brief general religious studies, like names of god, origin myths, etc, not like theology 101 or anything. surely competent teachers can teach simple stuff like that?

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iSteve's avatar

I confess, I’m not totally against the idea it’s just that it always seems to be so slanted, you know what I mean?

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dpena2009's avatar

My school actually offers a semester long “World Religions” class. They teach various different religions, from Hinduism to buddhism, from Christianity to Catholicism, and many others too. I think it is a good idea to learn other religions because one usually does not know anything else other than the religion their parents are. Learning about different ones opens up their options. I do believe that religion can be taught unbiasedly, like by an atheist for example.

Spargett's avatar

Separation of Church and State

Our founding fathers knew this would be a total mess if attempted. There’s too much to cover, and most kids aren’t mature enough to understand the content fully.

To be short: there are other skills that are much more important that kids are having a hard time learning. If they want to, there’s plenty of time to study on your own, or in college, when you’re smarter and more mature.

It seems like a complete waste of tax dollars. And also, you don’t need religion to be cultured. Just experience.

mzgator's avatar

I don’t think there should be a special religious class. World history is filled with events which have been influenced by religion. I home school my daughter. We do use a Christian curriculum, however during World History last year, there was a marvelous chapter on World Religions. It explained all of the various types of religions in detail. I learned quite a bit that I never knew.

I think the most important thing about learning about other religions is learning tolerance and acceptance of people who have different beliefs than yourself. Everyone is different, and that does not make them bad.

We live in a hugely Catholic area. We are not Catholic. When my stepdaughters attended highschool here, they also had a chapter on world religion. Because their teacher was Catholic, and although she was a good teacher, they felt that she was biased from her Catholic faith.

I think it would be hard to teach religion to a group of people without seeming biased in your faith. Faith is huge. It is a big part of who you are. How can you put such a big part of you aside? I think it would be hard. I also think it would be hard for a Science teacher who was not religious and did not believe in God to try to teach a class on creationism. I don’t think they could necessarily put their beliefs to the side to teach that in an effective manner.

I think it is better to have Separation of Church and State and to teach soley a religious class in public school. I don’t have a problem with including a chapter in World History.

thegodfather's avatar

We’re allowed to study the religion of science aren’t we? Why do we persist in believing that somehow science itself is removed from religion? It requires belief all the same. Where is the absolute evidence of major scientific theses promulgated in our public schools? Some, yes, have solid proof, but many others do not. Big Bang theory—still a theory and has yet to become a law in the science textbooks. Relativity—theory. Evolution—theory. I’m not criticizing these theories at all, in fact, I believe in many of them. I do point out that they require presupposition, assumption, belief and if we neglect religion in all its forms, we must cast out science too.

All we’d be left with, then, would be mathematics. :)

shared3's avatar

@thegodfather: it is emperical, and nothing has disproved it yet. There are many more arguments against your position, but one would be that every single major religion has had part of its tenets disproved. theories are theories because they haven’t been disproved yet. also, look up the difference between theory and law, and you will understand that it is extremely, extremely difficult for many theories to become laws.

btw, mathematics has many theorems too… ;)

Spargett's avatar

@thegodfather

C’mon man, seriously? Listen to what you’re saying.

thegodfather's avatar

My point is this, that too many put too much stock in science as if it’s the answer to everything. Well, that is what it tries to be, but it isn’t yet. At least those who study science haven’t come up with all the truth that is in the universe. My pet peeve is how folks try to separate a study of science from religion, as if you can’t study religion without agreeing with the religion you’re studying, but in science, all is objective and right. Well, c’mon folks, anyone who has dabbled in either religion or science knows that each area has its own theories and beliefs that are up for debate. Except religion is categorically dismissed from secular study in public schools because it is viewed as not empirical. Well, it’s not—and other scientific theories aren’t either. Quantum physics, in many respects, is up for debate because much is unobservable. You have to assume certain behaviors at that level and guess because so far we have not got the proof of what is actually happening for certain causes and effects. Well, how is this different from a religious studies scholar examining the effects of faith on a congregation and their beliefs? It may not be true either, but it’s helpful in understanding human behavior and culture, just as those theories do have place in our study of science. We should be able to study religion all the same, not because we endorse religion, but because doing so gives legitimate answers for how humans behave in certain religious communities and cultures. We better understand people in their environment and why they do and think the way they do.

joypeace's avatar

unbiased teaching is stupid we all should be taught one reliogon because god came and walked the earth budda didnt and what other religion you believe n im not tryin to say what religon you believe n is dumb but think about it some of the stuff say you have to do and needs to be dnoe before a certian age…...well chrisatin is the right religon you might not think its right for you but actually it is believe it or not if jesus did not come and walk this earth their wouldnt be no religion and remember if i wasnt for jesus god would have been taken us off this earth….

joypeace's avatar

and also science has nothin to do with tha way the world was made

delirium's avatar

Siddhartha walked this earth. He is essentially Budhisms Jesus. (you might want to take an unbiased class on world religion before you judge)

(gahh. iPhone!!! Damn you.)

El_Cadejo's avatar

@joypeace its a shame the bible is comprised of mostly stories taken from other earlier religions. What proof do you have that god walked this earth? None. All you have is faith. Just like every other religion on this earth. What makes yours so great and better than the others?

Most of that paragraph makes no sense what so ever. Please proof read next time and stay away from “text speak” dont write n would it kill you to type the a and the d?

“believe it or not if jesus did not come and walk this earth their wouldnt be no religion”
Strange how so many religions date back to before the time of Christ….. oh wait double negative so your saying there still would be religion, never mind.

teacher_mom2's avatar

As a Christian and a teacher, I say NO simply because nobody will ever agree on what is truth.
I don’t want a teacher teaching my own children about buddhism or atheism. I talk to my children about other religions, but tell them that they are false religions and that there is only one truth.
Also, I will NEVER teach my students that other religions are just fine n’ dandy if that’s what they want to believe. If I am ever forced to do that, that will be the day I quit. One day when I stand before God, I don’t want to be held accountable for teaching lies against Him.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@teacher mom2 i feel bad for your students.

What makes you so sure that your religion(one that is just made up like every other religion on this earth) is the true one and not some other one. Who are you to say that all of their Gods are false but yours is the real one, the only one.

Arent you christians supposed to be accepting of everyone? Why dont you try practicing what you clearly preach and see things from their point of view before you go off saying that its not ok for your students to believe what they want to.

delirium's avatar

I hope that you quit soon, then, because all children should be taught choice. I would never force ignorance upon a child.

Trance24's avatar

@teacher mom2 – Students and people alike all should be given the right to chose what they believe in. And if you are forcing your religion on students, I think you should be removed before quiting. You are a teacher who is supposed to be a leader and tell kids that it is ok to have their own thoughts and opinions. Not to force your own beliefs which haven’t been proven.

babygalll's avatar

@teachermom2: Lies??? That’s just ignorant. There is NO false religion in this world. Everyone chooses what they want to believe. How would you like someone to tell you that Christianity is a false religion? How would you feel? You wouldn’t want your children to learn about other religions of the world?? Children today need to be aware about other religions and what people believe in on the other side of the world. Nobody is being forced to believe or not believe a certain religion. As the children get older they will eventually believe what they want. I wouldn’t be surprised if your children grow up to be non-believers.

I might speak for other when I say this.

I wouldn’t want you to teach my child!

Upward's avatar

The Truth Will Set You Free! But I’ve noticed many faith based religions can’t see the truth if it was right in front of them. Their “FAITH” is SO strong that their reality becomes distorted.

For example, it baffles my mind that in this day and age there are still groups that actual believe in very heathenistic practices like blood sacrifice and drinking blood. Some think it is real blood others just symbolic blood in Communion. Either way all I see is cannibalistic / satanic looking practices. Christians would be the first to scream “satanic cult” if any other group claimed they were drinking (human, god or animal) blood. But in their own minds it is perfectly fine for them.

Thanks to the internet a new era of open thoughts has arrived!
We no longer must receive our knowledge from a limited resources but can tap into any religion we care to seek out. I do hope the internet generation will discover new paths to fulfillment and enlightenment, without relying on public or private schools.

Did anyone else notice that “teacher mom2” (Christian) was the first one to give up her right to teach her religion if it meant stopping other religions from being taught?? Is that truth? Not in my book. Believe it….THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE.

delirium's avatar

I’d actually place good money on her kids being atheists by the time they’re adults. Stifle a kid and it’ll come back and bite you in the ass. Teaching them that all atheists are evil? Wait until they get to the Real World and realize you lied to them.

I’ve seen it happen a million times. And it’ll keep happening. Its a new age (no pun intended) and things are done a little differently now.

mzgator's avatar

Some of you….you know who you are… Consistently preach tolerance and acceptance of all, regardless of our differences. I believe in accepting anyone who is a kind a decent person regardless of their faith, color, etc. Why do some of you get do hostile about Christians and their faith. This seems to be an ongoing trend. Some Christians may have problems with the things you believe, but they don’t attack you. Its a big world full of different individuals with different brains. Why can’t you show some acceptance for Christians too. Just because we believe different things does not make us bad or wrong!

babygalll's avatar

I don’t have anything against anyone and their religion. I respect all religions as I would want them to respect me. I am Christian myself. I was taught to RESPECT all religions. Nobody is better than anyone else and we are all EQUAL. I have many friends of different religions and I wouldn’t trade them for anything! You just have to accept people for who they are and what they believe in. You can’t go around telling children that the religion they grew up with and believe in is false. That is their culture and what they know. As a teacher you have no right to tell them that the other thousands of religions are false and Christianity is the only way to go.

These are techermom2 words not ours! I talk to my children about other religions, but tell them that they are false religions and that there is only one truth.
Also, I will NEVER teach my students that other religions are just fine n’ dandy if that’s what they want to believe

delirium's avatar

^what she said!

teacher_mom2's avatar

See? You attack me and prejudge things I didn’t even say..
I DON’T talk to my students about religion AT ALL – not my beliefs or anybody else’s. BUT (!!!), if, in the future, I am forced to teach that all religions are okay and that there is more than one way to heaven, then that will be the day I quit.

Another thing, I don’t know where people came up with the idea that Christians are supposed to be “accepting” of others. That word is thrown around along with “tolerance”. Haven’t you ever heard the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner?” .

Upward's avatar

@teacher mom2 – The Bible teaches that Christ was very accepting of other people, in fact he seemed to hangout with the outcast. I believe, “Christian” means “Christ like”. I would think that to be as much like him as possible was the goal.

Of coarse my whole problem with all this is, you’re relying on third hand information to guide you on your “Eternal Soul”. I personally wouldn’t rely on a document from the MiddleEast to direct me across country, much less to guide me to Heaven.

I WOULD allow religions to be taught, because I do not fear them… Hiding children from other faiths is like not teaching them to read, so they only know what YOU want them to know. Let the REAL truth be seen.

AMIAHINDU's avatar

RedmannX5 wrote: ” I completely disagree with schools teaching a single religion, because it never gives any kid a chance to make up his own mind about what religion he wants to be.”.....I fully agree with that. www.amiahindu.com

By teaching children all about every culture and religion on earth, they will be able to have a very clear vision about everything.

For example, Hinduism which is a CULTURE allows “free flow of thoughts and actions.” and as such even an atheist has the right to condemn Hinduism in the market place and still proudly proclaim he or she is a Hindu. In fact in Hinduism, the CHARVAKA philosophy or NASTIKA philosophy, [existed during the Vedic period] founded by CHARVAKA rejected the existence of God and considered religion as an aberration.

There is only one God and One truth. Nobody can monopolise God or truth or salavtion. All those things are universal. Our children should be taught that truth.

Zuma's avatar

I think that religion should be taught a form of history, using textual analysis, anthropological findings, and using comparative chronologies to verify reported events.

For example, I just saw a PBS Documentary called, “The Secret Family of Jesus,” which discussed the findings of some recently discovered graves on the Mount of Olives. These contained the ossuaries (bone boxes) of Jesus’ relatives (and even one box marked Jesus). Apparently, there is a whole untold story here about St. James and the part of the Jesus movement that never broke off from Judaism. James was the first Christian bishop, and his faction considered themselves both Jews and Christians—just as Jesus had. They believed that gentiles would have to convert to Judaism (and be circumcised) in order to join the Jesus movement.

However, in a fateful meeting between between St. Peter and St. Paul it was decided that such conversion would be unnecessary (because Jesus would be coming back any day). St.Paul, who had never met Jesus, claimed to have regular conversations with him (which we now recognize as likely to have been temporal lobe epileptic seizures). St. Luke appears to have sided with St. Paul and his accounts come down to us as a very selective history which more or less writes James out of the picture.

James’ faction consisted of Jesus’ extended family and the families of his disciples centered on the Jerusalem Church. James was in charge of this Church for 30 years while he was alive, and it persisted for 50 years after his death. In this Church, Jesus was considered a prophet and a man, and his message of love was couched in terms of freedom from oppression. The face of Christianity (which became stridently anti-Jew) would have been considerably different, had this faction not been muscled aside by St.Paul, who had large numbers of gentile converts on his side.

I think a similar treatment of Islam would be illuminating. Muhammad also experienced temporal lobe epileptic seizures, during which he believed himself to be taking dictation directly from God. Much of the development of Islam from that point forward can be traced to errors, omissions and contradictions in what he wrote down. For example, he failed to name a successor, or provide a method by which a successor could be chosen, so that the whole of Islam would be thrown into civil war every time there was a major succession issue.

If religion were taught from an outsider’s perspective like this, I think it would probably do some good—if you could get people to sit still for it. Unfortunately, any such attempt would send believers into a frenzy of denial, and if history is any guide, they would turn to politics and use every underhanded means possible, to take over the government in order to force the teachers to teach the religious view. If they should succeed, that would be a real calamity. It is probably better to teach Critical thinking skills and leave it at that.

LostInParadise's avatar

I think religion should be taught as part of history, but if it is taught properly religious people may have objections. For example, the flood story comes from the Babylonians and the Christians were not the first to come up with the virgin birth idea. Also, Christians chose Sunday as their Sabbath soley to distinguish themselves from the Jews, and of course Moslems chose Friday to distinguish themselves from Jews and Christians.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

the existence of them and what they are about and their history, but not taught as they would be in church, like “god says you should do this, do it”, etc etc.
i think religions should be taught as learning about different peoples’ beliefs promotes understanding and hopefully better attitudes toward others. i’m ‘agnostic’, i guess, but i think religion is interesting and often a big part of societies of the past and present, so it is pretty important.

fundevogel's avatar

I don’t see why you specify religion. If you simply want to teach a “a better understanding of the world around us” you shouldn’t limit your scope to religion. Even within a purely culture perspective religion only gives part of the picture.

a better understanding of the world around us should come from diverse study of culture, history and science without jingoism, eurocentricism or other forms of cultural elitism.

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