Religion in Schools. A new twist on the idea.

There is no single term for Muslim religious figures. Imam is the most common, refering to the leader of a mosque who generally but not always does the ‘sermon’ – in fact in most mosques it is considered good practice for different reasonably learned members to give sermons on some informally rotating basis.

This of course differs from place to place and region to region.

In re the larger point, I think an education about other religions is absolutely necessary to be a good citizen in an increasingly globalized world. At the very least, even if you have no love for other religions, or even religion, you can at least be moderately well-informed about practices, beliefs, and perhaps to be placed to find moderate common ground so as to exclude violent, intolerant extremists from whatever side.

In my high school world history class we were taught about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Tao, Hinduism and Shinto when we did the units on the areas of the world in which those religions have had a major influence. We learned about ancient, currently-non-practiced religions (the Greek and Roman beliefs, the ancient Norse stuff about Odin and Loki and all, etc), too, and in American History we learned a sampling of Native American beliefs. I didn’t realize this was so rare. I don’t understand how you can learn about world history WITHOUT learning about the religions that have shaped it.

“While Moses only had a 2-man pup tent and it didn’t even have window-flaps, he eventually upgraded to something like a tipi. Jesus had all those disciples so they got a huge 12-man igloo-shaped one from Coleman…”

Well, from my own experiences in high school, even getting the teachers to stand for such a thing would be a tremendously difficult task. I live in Oregon, which is a fairly liberal state, and yet at least two of the seven teachers I had this year would qualify as conservative Christians, and believe in Biblical Inerrancy. To say the least, this would not go over well. And parents/students would be even worse.

Back to the topic, I think such a class would be very useful. While most of the major religions (I learned about Christianity, Judism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, and Confuscionism (please don’t maim me if I misspelled things)) are already taught in the Global Studies classes, simply trying to teach about the religions of the world for a year would do wonders to open up peoples’ minds about what different cultures and people actually believe, rather then having people rely on what they hear. As an Athiest myself, I am stuck constantly defending Catholicism/Mormonism/Jehova’s Witnesses from people whom simply do not believe that they are Christian. Such a class would be a tremendous asset, as well as a good way to help teach about current events.

Some of the problems are funding and simply trying not to step on anybody’s toes. In Oregon at least, funding for the schools is, shall we say, difficult to come by. Already, we have no history outside of American history taught, and sparse electives available, with more vanishing as time goes by. Trying to get the funding to put together a comprehensive curriciulum, find a competent and suitably objective teacher, and sell the idea to the school board would be an incredibly difficult task.

The other issue, as has been alluded to, is not causing an outrage among the more conservative members of religions. Trying to teach things equally, with people watching every move to try and pick up some implied bias against their set of beliefs, or criticism, real or imagined, of what they believe, is not exactly an easy task. And there’s always deciding what to teach.

This could be a great class, and an incredibly useful one in today’s society. But selling it isn’t going to be a horribly easy hurdle to surmount.

I did my Senior Thesis on a religion, but nobody wanted me to present. Apparently Scientology isn’t mainstream enough for me to come in and describe at length my research into it (I’m not a Scientologist myself, thankfully).

Libertarian wrote:

Who said he was referring to Jesus? :wink:

I personally think he was referring to Sun Myung Moon. =p

Dude, it’s called MRE (Moral and Religious Education). Well, in Canada, at least. I got taught the “big five” all through high school, and everyone had to get into groups and do a projects on specific religions or sects, from Wicca to Rastafarianism. My group did it on Scientology, and in the form of a delightful video (which ended with a reenactment of L.R. Hubbard’s sci-fi-ish creation story, using troll dolls). We also read “Inherit the Wind”, and nobody suggested that evoultion was just some wacky idea. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

I would say it’s OK if it’s in secondary school and part of world history, with equal time for all the major religions (and some emphasis on the minor ones). But some schools have used history as a Trojan horse to teach Christianity, which is what you get in the context of American History.

A few years ago I heard about manger scenes being set up in PS elementary classrooms, ostensibly as part of teaching how imprtant a figure Jesus was in American history.