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Should Comparative Religion Be Taught In School

1193 words - 5 pages

Whether religion should be part of the public school curriculum or not has been issue for debate in the USA for the past 60 years. Religion has always played a significant role in people’s lives. Archaeologists found that, even as early as 300,000 years ago, Paleolithic art was already based in religious theories (“Religious Beliefs”). In Egypt, ancient Greece, the Roman Empire as well as more recent civilizations, the influence of religion has been ingrained in countries’ governments and citizens’ everyday lives. The settlers and founders coming from England to America a few hundred years ago were largely Christian believers. Their biblical inspirations were all-present and helped shape the USA. Religion has always been a major motivator for political decisions, both positive and negative ones. Wars have been fought over religion, and peace has been made over religion. The overall goal in today’s global world should be to provide a thorough education to America’s students which will result in well-rounded and well-educated adults able to lead this country into the next century. In light of religion’s historical significance, the question is raised: Should comparative religion be incorporated into the public school curriculum?
There are several valid concerns in regards to making comparative religion part of the public school curriculum. The most obvious concern is that state and church in the United States are separate institutions. Since public schools belong to the government, many believe that religion has no place in them. In addition, religion is not a science. It is not factual, and cannot be proven to be right or wrong. Nobody knows for certain if there is a God or not, and if there is one, what his ideals are or how the world was created. Michael Davis addresses concerns in regards to the scientific and spiritual way of explaining the matters of the world when he states in his article that “people of diverse political philosophies understand the danger, historically proven, of taking the power to define and teach science out of the hands of the scientists and giving it to those who do not approve of science's conclusions” (38). Teaching the scientific way of how the world became about, and teaching the spiritual way alongside, might interfere with each other and confuse students. Therefore, the belief that public schools should stick to the facts, and leave religious education of any kind up to the individual students’ families, has some merit. Another concern is that parents often fear that the school will not provide religious information in an unbiased way. It is not up to the school to convey messages of approval or disapproval, and belief or disbelief, regarding certain religious principles. Also, the fact that there are so many factual things to learn about the world, but already not enough time to learn them in, is reason for many to believe that religion studies have no place in a public school.
Although all these arguments...

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