Religion in Schools. A new twist on the idea.

Alright than, i have a theory, an idea if you will. Obviously we can’t have religion taught in schools. At least, not in the normal sense. We can’t teach all children that Jeebus will save us or some such nonsense, but what if we DID teach religion? What if we taught the theories? the lessons, the HISTORY of religion. All SORTS of religion. From Christianity to Wiccan. From Judaism to Taoism. Teach that all these theories are out there. that they are all important, and that we’d be better people if we learned and understood them all? IT should be a sort of history class. maybe in the middle grades. I don’t know. its just a theory i have. I like the idea.

I think the idea is a good one. The class could be called “religions”.

The problem is that you would always have to leave some out. And what about some religions that are considered to be “cults” by some?

And people would still be uspet that their children were being taught other religions. You could make the class optional with parental approval but it’s probably the kids of the very parent who would not agree who need to know that there are othew viewpoints out there.

It’s a good idea but I don’t see it being very implementable.

What EB said. There are Fundie parents who would object to having their children taught anything at all about Wiccans–remember, these are the people who don’t even let their kids go to Harry Potter movies.

They do teach “History of World Religions” classes–but in college.

Er, I had comp religions in High School (although one that did not venture far afield beyond what was then considered ‘North American’ religions). Perhaps it is a regional thing. Indeed I suspect it is.

Many schools include discussions of various world religions in social science class. There’s absoltuely nothing wrong with this. Although, if religious parents don’t want their kids to learn such things, that’s their right. The U.S. gov has no bussiness instructing anyone on religious matters.

I would like for us to be able to offer religion classes in public school, but the problem is that no matter what how hard you try to be fair, impartial, and unbiased, there is always somebody who will be upset by the material that the teacher presents or the way that it is presented. There are some people who would oppose any mention of religion in a public school. On the other end of the spectrum are those who would be angered simply by the attempt to put all of the world’s major religions on an equal footing. School boards usually want to minimize controversy in order to prevent lawsuits, so convincing them to wade into this area would be difficult.

In my home state of Kentucky, there’s also the problem that the State Legislature recently added several new graduation requirements to the curriculum, so there’s less time for students to take the electives that they want.

I had it in middle and high school - stuck to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism the first time around. The second time, it did those five first and then if a student mentioned an interest to the teacher we covered that as well - so we had a wiccan come in and give a talk and a few other minor religions.

Given my biases, I don’t think the class was very biased, and I do think it helped me a great deal… but because of those biases, I doubt my objectivity.

As an atheist, I fully support the idea of a “religions of the world” class in public schools. Sure, the fundies will complain (won’t they always?), but if the lessons are fair and balanced, IMO it’d be a great learning experience for the students.

At worst, the kids will develop a new respect for other faiths, which can only help to reduce hate crimes and intolerance in the future.

At best, the kids will realize that all religion is bunk, and stop blindly following whatever they’ve been believing. :wink:

I don’t see any constitutional conflict with teaching comparative religion classes, parental permission or not. AFAIK, the only restriction on religion/government interaction is that the government can’t make laws establishing religion or interfering with the practice of religion.

Law-knowledgable dopers, help me out here: Would a school offering a class on religions be any sort of 1st amendment violation? How much of a factor would parental consent be?

Personally, I’d be strongly in favor of that as an optional class. I wish my high school had offered it, because now that I think about it, I really know relatively little about religions. I think many students would be interested in such a class, and it would be more beneficial than most other high school classes.

It would certainly help in the pursuit of fairness and balance if a teacher did not refer to Jesus as “Jeebus” nor refer to the belief in His salvation as “nonsense”.

Teaching Religion is technically compulsory in English schools (indeed it used to be the only compulsory subject before the National Curriculum). A religious assembly each day is also technically compulsory (used to involve hymns, prayers etc).

Result: A largely non-formally-religious nation

Religion in schools in the USA is virtually impossible in State schools because of constitutional limits.

Result: A largely formally-relgious nation.

What Gives?

I had “Religious Education” taugh to our school in Yr 10. Basically ging through the Old and New testament and interpreting them from a historical perspective. I didn’t find it too helpful at all.

Another atheist chiming in here. I have said for many years that comparative (and I stress comparative) religion should be taught in U.S. public schools. Religion is, like it or not, one of the main driving forces behind every culture in the world. If you learn about different religions… what they mean, what they believe, how they are similar or different from your own beliefs… you have a much greater likelihood of understanding and accepting those different from you.

Growing up as an atheist (always been one) from a Jewish family, I certainly had to explain to more than one fundie that no, I was not the devil and please, don’t tell me I’m doomed for hell because I consider that to be a bit insulting.

Any particular reason why we can’t just add the apocryphal stories & ledgends of today’s religions in with the mythology classes?

news flash, here in ohio they are and have taught about various religions, which were in the text book. Last year in 9th grade they went over the “main religions” such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Budhism, and Hinduism. We also talked about cults, i.e. the Moonies (this was all in my history class we didn’t dabble with evolution). I found it very informative, and could actually start to relate the past with the present as I saw the mideast talks on TV.

By no means was any religion set-up in a biased way, our teacher is atheist to begin with. What really ticks me off is the drive for people to take evolution out of the class room, or you have to teach religions with it. I got a good sum of info on creationism, but have nearly had NO teachings of evolution, none.

I don’t believe its taught in the public Schools here in Georgia, but I went to a Catholic High School and we were taught comparative religion my senior year. Covered Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. We also had a Muslim Cleric (I think thats what their ministers are called?) and a Buddhist come in to speak. He invited a Rabbi, but he could never make it. It seemed pretty fair and balanced to me.

I personally have always been in favor of comparative religion because believe that to understand a religious person you need to have some understanding of his religion. Comparative religion classes could help in fostering understating between peoples.

There is always a danger of letting personal ideology from overpowering a balanced presentation, but so long as the course attempts to teach simply from a historical perspective with a brief overview on major tents in the faiths then I don’t see any harm in it.

Eris knows they won’t even touch Discordianism, though. :wally

“Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion.”

Although I don’t want to sound like the “America is a Christian nation” spouters of the Religious Right, the teaching of what religion has done to influence world history in general and in particular instances (Muhammad and the expansion of the Caliphate, Joan of Arc, Henry VIII, anti-Semitism, and the stuff happening in the Middle East these days, for five excellent examples) is absolutely part of a balanced curriculum. And it is in no way presenting any particular view as “established” or even “recommended” so it does not fall afoul of the First Amendment prohibition (or the 14th Amendment extension of that right of U.S. citizens as against state enforcement).

In addition, the world might be a much more peaceful place if people had a handle on what motivates others who believe differently than they (including the religious belief=null set of atheists).

I think the outcry would be tremendous if Genesis was taught alongside things like the old greek/roman creation myths or the stories of the norse gods. :smiley:

Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism are teh big five. At least teach these in class. Religion is undeniably a contributing factor in world events. i’m not saying to teach teh religions and to make the students follow them, i’m saying to make the students UNDERSTAND them from an unbiased point of view.