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JLeslie's avatar

Did your college or university require a religion class?

Asked by JLeslie (59783points) September 13th, 2015 from iPhone

My niece told me last night her college required a religion class. It’s a private college, but not a religious run college, and she took a comparative religion class. I don’t know if there also was the option of a variety of religion classes.

In your answer please let is know if the school you are referring to is a public or private school, and if it’s private if it’s run by a specific religion.

I went to a public state school and we did not have any requirement to take a religion class.

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39 Answers

anniereborn's avatar

Nope. I went to a public state school as well.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes. It was a private school. Grounded in the Catholic faith. I didn’t realize that, though, until I just now looked it up.
I took an informative comparative religion class. It was interesting.

Buttonstc's avatar

No, no religion class requirement of any kind.

I went to a public college (Plattsburgh) within the State University of N. Y. system.

dxs's avatar

I’ve been to both:
Public school—no.
Private school, non-religiously-affiliated—no.

DominicY's avatar

Nope. I did take several religious studies courses though.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s been a long time, but There was no required religion course, though there were two required philosophy courses. One was mandatory, and you were allowed to choose the second one. I also seem to remember that folks with certain high school transcript anomalies were shuttled into a course on logic.

janbb's avatar

Nope – but then my college had no required courses.

talljasperman's avatar

Most of my classes were required classes. I had to take a philosophy critical thinking or religion.

dxs's avatar

Religion classes did count towards general education requirements, though, though you could take other classes that would fulfill the same requirement.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, everyone has a certain number of required classes, in the basics. I think the first two years are all pretty much required, with an occasional elective thrown in.

I think it may count as a humanities credit, @dxs, but I don’t remember.

dappled_leaves's avatar

No. No required courses, except for the courses required to fulfill a specific degree. That is, everyone has required courses, but there are no types of courses that all students must take.

Even then, the degree requirements are usually chosen out of a range of options; perhaps 10% of the required credits are courses that all students in that program must take.

This sort of autonomy is exactly what college/university is about. A college that requires all students to take a specific course (and if there is one, are there others, too @JLeslie)? doesn’t sound like much of a college to me. Rather, it sounds like an extension of high school.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The first two years are pretty much an extension of high school, just at a higher level. I took college biology, even though I’d taken in in high school. Also English and Lit.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I went to a private university, they did not require but had an elective comparative religion class. I took a logic class taught by an adjunct professor, he also taught at the Catholic seminary about 2 miles away.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

When you say college, do you mean university? My university is a public university and no, there is no requirement that students take religion classes.

josie's avatar

No.
It was a taxpayer funded institution.
Taxpayers hate religion classes.

reijinni's avatar

Public colleges, so no.

kevbo's avatar

I took a world religions class to fulfill my requirement at America’s Catholic Disneyland.

tedibear's avatar

It was an option within the Social “Sciences” requirement. This area included Psychology, Sociology, Philosophy, Religion and History. You had to take either two or three. (I don’t remember how many it was.) In some cases, certain majors had requirements. For example, as an elementary education major, I had to take a non-western history course.

FWIW, I took History of China and Japan. Terrific class.

jca's avatar

I went to a State university and there was no requirement for religion class.

There were classes about religions, either from a philosophical standpoint or from a historical standpoint, but they were not “religious classes” and they were not mandatory.

JLeslie's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Yes, university. I should have clarified better knowing people use different terms around the world.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I attended a private Lutheran college in the US. Religious classes were not required unless that was the selected major.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I don’t think so. I took a comparative religions class, but ten years of Catholic school pretty much inured me to religion for life. I think I was curious… and out for an easy A.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

University of California, Sonoma..

Love_my_doggie's avatar

No, but religious courses were core-curriculum electives. I took a comparative religion class—the history of institutional religion, and its role on history—and found it very interesting. It wasn’t the sort of course of “taught religion” or otherwise proselytized.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That was my experience too @Love_my_doggie. It was a taught by a Methodist minister. He pointed out that Christianity is the only religion that demands we go out and convert other people. He seemed a bit disgusted by it! He pointed out the connection between the Roman empire and converting. That was the first time I’d heard it and it sure made sense.

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie It seems that what many people are saying is that there may have been a required or elective comparative religion course in their curriculum. Do you see a problem with that?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I would have a problem with it if it was a public school and it was required. What possible reason would there be to require it?

janbb's avatar

If it is a university that focuses on a core curriculum, I think it is valid to teach comparative religion as a component of what an educated person should known. After all, religion has driven societies and conflicts for thousands of years; ignorance of world religious differences is problematic. Teaching the doctrine of any one religion as the true religion is totally different and should not be allowed at a public institution.

Buttonstc's avatar

What possible reason could there be for requiring a course in comparative religions.?

Well, in the same way that there are required courses in various aspects of history. These are designed to broaden a person’s knowledge and perspective on various cultures, their history, and how they have impacted each other and the world at large.

It broadens a person’s knowledge base to delve into numerous religions and how they have affected the world both positively and negatively throughout history.

Just a few examples off the top of my head would be Ia better understanding of the motivation for the crusades as well as Ghandi and MLK Jr. and their religious views impacting the non-violence methods which brought about such changes in both the USA and India’s freedom from British rule.

Comparative religion courses are about a broad exposure to many religious traditions, their effect upon history NOT indoctrination into any particular one.

It leaves people that much less ignorant about other cultures and unfamiliar ideas and may well promote a greater degree of tolerance for others.

Perhaps if the leaders in power had had a more specific understanding of the difference between the Shia, Sunni, Wahabi and Kurdish branches of Islam, some of the current problems in Iraq and Iran might have been avoided.

More knowledge is usually more helpful than less.

A well taught course in Comparative Religion can give people unique insights into how others think and act. Such a course requires absolutely no personal religious belief system at all; merely a curious mind. And how is that a bad thing?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I stand edjacated again. Excellent points, @janbb and @Buttonstc.

Buttonstc's avatar

@Dutchess

You do realize, do you not, that not every single thing connected to the word “religion” is harboring a secret agenda to convert you ? One would hope.

:D

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not worried about it, anyway. They can’t convert me even if they tried, cuz I done got converted for most of my life then unconverted myself, all by myself, thanks to Rarebear.

I can really see how valuable a comparative religion class could be to understand why much of history went down the way it did. It would also be eye opener to realize how much power the human imagination can give to imaginary gods and everything they throw up to surround that god. People dying because of this.

LostInParadise's avatar

I can see religion being taught as part of a course in psychology or sociology to explain what universal needs religions have satisfied in the past and why there has been a movement away from religion in more recent times. There is little to be gained by studying doctrinal nuances between religions. Catholicism does not differ all that much from Protestantism and I doubt that there is much difference between Sunis and Shiites. Differences are mostly ceremonial. Fundamentalist believers in one religion have much more in common with fundamentalist believers in another religion than either has with those who are more secular. If you look at specific issues like creationism, abortion and homosexuality you would not be able to distinguish fundamentalist Christians from fundamentalist Muslims.

LostInParadise's avatar

I have not read Joseph Campbell’s classic work, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, but from the description, I can see building a course around it.

janbb's avatar

@LostInParadise He taught such courses at my college and I interviewed for his last course there.

But I disagree with your point about not studying doctrinal differences because those are often where history ignited. The Protestant Reformation, King Henry 8th and the dissolution of the monasteries, the wars between Sunnis and Shiites – the devil is in the details. It’s a bit like saying who cares about the difference between an isosceles and and equilateral triangle if you’re studying math.

Campbell studied the unity between cultural mythic explanations – we need to study that but also understand the differences between peoples.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I never had a problem with it. I was surprised by it. Religion is something that is so a part of our society historically and currently that I certainly can see an argument for requiring a comparative religion class, but if you had asked me to guess, I never would have guessed it would be a required course. I would expect that it be a choice among elective courses, and I know I was required to take electives outside of my course requirements. I remember taking a few Psych classes and History of Art. I took a philosophy class, I don’t remember if it was required.

Dutchess_III's avatar

It could only be required at a private, religious school.

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