I am a senior in high school and attend a school where there is a special
program where students can create a curriculum and then teach it to other
students. I took advantage of this opportunity to teach a world religions class,
not only on modern religions that we encounter, but ancient ones as well which
we still see in our society. My students love it, everyone has something to
contribute and we all manage to have great discussions without saying one
religion is better or worse than another. Religions in public schooling is
definitely a great idea!
Rural sport fanMy comment did not state nor imply that it did. Hunam
drew the connection between knowing and having a problem with. I simply pointed
out that research shows atheists to be overall significantly more knowledgable
about religion than believers.Try again...
A Scientist: knowing more about something isn't the same as having a
problem with something. You may need to take your own advice, and try again.
Casual observer: no one is saying the school should "teach
religion", the idea is that schools should teach "about" religion,
so that we have a basic idea of the world view of those from other cultures.Having lived in various parts of this world, I can tell you, most
Americans could use some education on religions and cultures. Too bad the state
cut back the Cultural Geography class that used to actually be the place where
world religions could be discussed in high school.
Hunam wrote: "I find that most people who have a problem with religions
really don't know about what those religions teach-"Your
personal "findings" are wrong.Pew research reports that
atheists know more about religion than anyone.Try again.
I want to change the phrase "religious tolerance" to "religious
respect". I find this requires a higher order of knowledge and action for
each of us. This requires that we do seek to understand the religious basis for
others thoughts, actions and motivations. This will allow us to grow closer
together as a community and nation. There is room for all, including those who
do not have a religious preference, background or want one. We still need to
understand each other.
I find that most people who have a problem with religions really don't know
about what those religions teach--instead they have experienced a religion
through its followers. A religion could be 100% true, and yet its followers are
still only human. Most people who have issues with religion
don't understand how to separate what is human failing with a shortcoming
in religious teachings. Interestingly, the LDS faith claims to
embrace all light and truth, and claim that spiritual truth that is available
through what limited revelations they have been able to receive. That its
followers fall short of that is a symptom of their humanity. I suspect that many
religions and even atheists approach their own quest for understanding in much
the same way. It's also a sad fact of human failing to see the
success of another a failure of our own--but attacking another belief set does
not make my own more viable. Religious tolerance allows us to
explore truth and light from our own perspective without harming others in the
process. It is sorely needed in this age.
I took a world religions class in high school. I took another in college. Some
of the best classes I ever took. I believe these classes have made me a better
person. Even a more spiritual one. Some people, even here in Utah need to learn
there is not always one correct answer to questions. No one religion is totally
correct in its teachings and doctrine. There are positive aspects and negative
aspects to religious views, even atheism.
Well said raybies. The nay sayers are more bigoted and have less room for
tolerance than those they criticize.
Teaching religion is a matter best left to the home and church. Religion should
not be discouraged or prevented by school policy, but it is not pubic
A good discussion and I respect the tone of this thread. I'm sort of in the
Ultra Bob camp here--but trending toward the Baccus notion that the study of
these different religions, is better than remaining ignorant of something that
has been such a powerful force in shaping the history of mankind for good and
bad. If we are aggressively diligent in exploring both the positive and negative
effects of a particular religion, and of course give equal time to the study of
atheism and spirituality devoid of religion--if the attempt is to truly
understand where others are coming from, being tolerant of the fact that each
and every religion has it's share of good and bad people---I see no
problem. Let's say this---if the class seems just as likely to
make a person leave religion as it is to make them embrace religion, go ahead
and use my tax dollars.
I agree Schwa, I too as an atheist have no problem, in fact would encourage an
overview course of world religions. The problem today is how easily the
religious slip into the teaching of values. They can't seperate facts from
the perceived vaules of those facts. You see it on this thread.
Knowing about religions is about learning about diversity. Lots of people in
Utah are quite backwards about diversity. Learning more about religions,
including Mormons would help them become more inclusive of different viewpoints.
It would broaded their viewpoints.Knowledge about different
religions would help people interact with others in this modern diverse world
without their prejudices always poking out.
As an atheist I have no problem with comparative religion classes. As long as
religion is being taught academically, and not taught in a way which implies or
states that a certain religion is correct, then it is a good thing. I like
learning about religion, despite being non-religious.
"Being religious without knowledge is just being superstitious."One of the first things that a course in comparative religion would
teach is that "superstition" is a word used to mean what other people
believe that "we" think are silly or idiotic. It is a value-laden word
that you won't find in an academic perspective that seeks to be value
neutral and descriptively accurate."Knowledge" about
religion is also of two different qualities: one, "religion as Truth",
consists of internal understandings of the metaphysical, epistemological and
anthropological beliefs/practices of believers (textual as well as practical);
the other, "religion as natural human phenomenon", is an external
understanding of the teachings/practices of a particular complex of religious
ideas in comparison with similar complexes that exist and have existed in all
human communities known to history. It is this second type of knowledge about
religion that belongs in academic classrooms. Unfortunately, people who are
personally committed to one form of religious belief and authority often
consider this critical form of knowledge to be anti-religious because it
relativises what they consider to be absolute and truly True.
I loved teaching about religions in my public elementary school classes. It was
especially fun when members of lesser known (at least in Utah) religions were
available to explain his/her beliefs. I was disappointed when I couldn't
invite the children to begin our school days with prayer any more. It was a
chance for many children to learn how different faiths expressed themselves.
I wonder if I ever had an atheist student. Would I have invited
him/her to begin the day with some good bromide, saying or aphorism that
reflected his/her family's aspirations?I think I knew enough
about other major world religions, and also about competing views from science
and various form of non-belief, that I could give them a fair hearing. I just
wanted them to learn that civil dialogue about deeply held beliefs is
possible.I had no interest in pushing my views on them. That would
be against my religion.
I just took that class because the other religion classes were killing my GPA.
:) But lo and behold, I found it real interesting...
@Howard BealYes, BYU still offers the World Religions course, as
well as more specific ones on Islam and Judaism. Having taken the World
Religions class as well as a class on American religious history while I was a
student at the Y, I wish there was more Mormon interest in studying comparative
religion. I think we'd gain healthier understanding of our non-LDS
associates, deeper respect for different religious traditions, and better
perspective on the possibilities that I find beautiful in my own faith. We're so interested in converting others that we don't make
much room for dialogue. I think the former would be better off if we gave the
latter a little more emphasis.
I wish there had been a world religions (and lack thereof) class available when
I was in school. Of course, when I was in school I was a stupid teenager so
would probably have blown it off. But the idea is good.
@raybies;Having been a Mormon most of my life (not one now), I do
happen to know a bit about Mormons."Stop picking fights with the
Mormons and find a life that doesn't rely on tearing down others in order
to have a life. Then maybe religious tolerance will mean something to
you."When Mormons stop "picking fights" with others then
they'll actually deserve a bit of "religious tolerance".
The bigotry of some is pretty clear by their comments here. So this
comment's addressed to those folks who are attacking Utah, the Mormons or
religion in general.First. You clearly didn't read the article.
The article does not mention that Utah is worse than any other state, despite
comments claiming that this is so. In fact, it appears to be the opposite, in
that one of the schools that implemented a world religions course was based in
Utah. Like with most topics, the commenters don't actually read
the articles, want to complain about Utah, its people, the Mormons, and join the
discussion with their preconceptions blazing. Why even read the Deseret News if
you're going to disagree with things that you haven't even read? Stop picking fights with the Mormons and find a life that doesn't
rely on tearing down others in order to have a life. Then maybe religious
tolerance will mean something to you.
The more I've studies religions around the world, the more I've
realized we are ALL Children of the same God.Burying one's head
in the sand is a closed mind, hard-heart and stiff-neck.
@TimpClimber, You should have asked for the books to be shelved where they
I don't see any problem teaching a course on world religions in public
schools. The problem is that Christian Americans only want their religion
15 years ago I tried to establish a section for religious books in our high
school library when I learned that such a section would not be against the law.
I had approached the leaders of 10 major religions in Salt Lake City to donate
five of their best books about their faith. They were all willing to donate.
Then the anti-God folks got wind of the project and threatened to sue. I
suggested they choose five books and add them to the section. But the project
got scuttled by the district administrators who didn't want to be the first
in the State to try such a project. I still think it would be valuable and give
students the opportunity to explore more than the latest vampire novel.
Sounds alot like Utah. Alot is know about religion but very little is known of
To: Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT - you do make a good point regarding the
economic motivation for war. I also agree that there are times when religion is
used as an excuse and rally point for such action. I would also agree that a
class discussing all religions should also provide the point of view of those
who do not believe in any religion. Again, by understanding the belief systems
of others, helps us to work better together. The class mentioned in the article
does not try to prove one belief system over another, buy simply to understand
what the belief system is. Relgious values do and will continue to drive the
actions of people in this world. You can either bury you head in the sand and
pretend religion doesn't mean anything, or you can try and understand how
relgion works in the lives of others around the world.
Ultra Bob,As in any wave of ideas, there certain aspects that you can
verify. Most religions attempt to give answer regarding meaning, can you verify
that empirically? I would say, No! However, it is interesting and relevant to
know how people arrived to those answers.Personally, I am fascinated
by the subject of religion (even though I follow none)and is illuminating to see
the similarities and differences. Through out history religion has given hope to
many, also religion has been used as excused for conquest and the erasing of
cultures.Obviously religion fills a void in human beings, and people
do many beautiful and horrible things motivated by religion. Such a force should
be studied and hopefully understood. With Earth becoming smaller, intercultural
exchanges become more prevalent. It would be intresting to know how other people
answer the same questions we have.
The Deuce.My problem with the point of view of this article and many
of the posts is that I don’t believe that religion had any thing to do
with "the classic events in American history — the Revolution, the
Civil War, the New Deal, the Reagan Revolution or the Middle east, or the
Wisconsin teachers Union or the Occupy Wall street. I believe all wars are
economic wars. They may be fought under religious banners but the true purpose
is always the struggle to be successful winners in the commercial competition of
people. The revolutionary war was about who would get to make the
rules and collect the taxes of commercial business rather than being about
religious freedom. The colonies were more concerned about keeping their
religious monopolies that about individual freedom. Because he who controls
government controls wealth. When I read the Declaration of Independence, I see
a recruiting poster written more to Americans than the King. Does
the class in religion include the religion of non-belief? Or is it just another
part of the campaign to keep religion in general in it’s unjustified
position of importance.
To: Ultra Bob - Cottonwood Heights, UT: I believe you have missed the point of
the article. Understanding beliefs and faith that influences human behavior is
one of the best ways to understand how we can work together. Ignorance of a
person's belief system (religion) leads to much misunderstanding. Take a
look at the Middle East if you need an example. This type of class should be
mandatory for all high schools and colleges. We just may find ourselves better
understanding the world around us.
Baccus0902, Leesburg, VA, says: “Being religious without knowledge is just
being superstitious.”How does one acquire knowledge about
religion. Is there any thing in this world that would actually be a verifiable
truth about religion?
The purpose of religion is to enslave the minds of men. It’ much cheaper
than military conquest, all you have to have is a good story about life after
death. The reason to enslave the minds of men is to garner and control the
wealth of the world. Death being the ultimate fear in all of life
is a natural part of living. In humans it makes them vulnerable to the tales
and imaginations of unscrupulous charlatans with ulterior motives. The
beneficial peace and comfort is gained simply by believing, it matters not
whether the story is true or not. Logic should tell us that all
religions cannot be true because they are all different. Being different should
tell us that some are lies. While the stories cannot all be true, they could
all be false.
BYU has always had good classes on world religions. As an Asian Studies major in
the 1970s, I had good grounding in Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism, as well
as the folk religions of China, Korea, and Japan. Islam is also well-covered.
Hamblin and Peterson guesting today for the DN are both scholars of Islam at
BYU.Come to think of it, more to the point of this article, I had
world religions at Provo HS in my senior year.
I remember seeing a study fairly recently that found that atheists and agnostics
know far more about religion than religious people. Interesting.
I took a World Religions course at BYU of all places. Not one mention of LDS
theology the entire time. We talked about all the major world religions. It
was taught by a guest professor from China I believe. I wonder if BYU still
offers this course or whether it has relented under "pressure". The
climate of BYU was actually more liberal a generation ago in regards to its
educational approach. Let me know on this one because I'm curious...
As a college professor I can tell you that secular religion course are only
opposed by a handful of people. You can talk to any number of instructors who
teach these courses and they all have stories about phone calls and threats from
ministers or atheists. As the article points out, its usually the "risk
adverse" administration who buckles under.There are some things
worth fighting for and this is one them. I don't think we should let a
radical set of bullies keep students from learning about and appreciating the
religious traditions of other people. I grew up in an environment where I lived
and went to school with people from many different ethnic and religious
backgrounds. It greatly enriched my life. I hope the rising generation can have
the same opportunity.
RE: The Quran is the holy book of Islam or that the Dalai Lama is Buddhist.Christians, and Jews believe that God created all that exists ex nihilo
(out of nothing). Mormonism is quite different in its cosmology, claiming that
God fashioned the universe out of preexisting material. God is eternal in some
forms of LDS theology, but so is preexisting matter, including the material used
by God to create human beings.Ecc 12:7)… the spirit shall
return unto God who gave it. In (2Tim 1:9 & Titus 1:2)God
existed before time, implying he created time.… God who gives life
to the dead and Calls into Being things that were not.(Romans 4:17 NIV
Why is America illiterate in religion? Because we fear indoctrination by our
evil government and their pawn teachers who will surely doom our children.Why is Utah the leader in this illiteracy? Because too many LDS parents
make up visions in their heads that their kids will be corrupted to believe
their religion is wrong. In other words, these parents feel that the only way
to have good values and be a good person is to be a member of the same religion.
You're raising great missionaries, folks!
Religion can be fully embraced without knowing anything about it. That's
how it divides us, because we can use it, and do use it, to our own ends.
Totally in agreement with the article.Being religious without knowledge is
just being superstitious.This apply to any movement of ideas i.e.
politics, philosophy.It is interesting to see when people accuse
others of being "islamist" or "socialist" or something else, as
if following those ideas were somehow negative, instead of "just" a
different perspective of the world.I find particularly clever the
last line of the article.