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Teaching World Religion in the Public School System

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Essay title: Teaching World Religion in the Public School System

Teaching World Religion

In America, the idea of teaching world religion inside the public schools is often seen as reprehensible. This, unfortunately, is caused by the many different interpretations of the separation of church and state in the Constitution of America. This program of study has helped many children in other nations to have a greater awareness and understanding of the religions that surround them in the world. We believe that the teaching of world religion would be a great boon to America and her students. As an example we need to look no farther than California. A school in Modesto, California has recently implemented a system used to study religions and has been a remarkable success.

Of course, what is actually being taught in theses class is of great importance to many people. If one were to force a comparison, the closest analogy would probably come in the form of a political science class. In a political science class, a student can be taught the basic principles of communism and socialism and not be influenced to become a member of that political party. The same occur here in these programs. In America, however, it would also focus on the First Amendment rights, of which freedom of religion is one.

These classes would primarily be concerned with the major religions of the world. Five of these religions; Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, would be the primary centers of discussion. In stressing the level of detail, we believe that it is important to give some examples of what would be taught about each of these religions. For one, the gods of each religion would be taught. This means that it would be taught that Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all monotheistic and have the same God, while Buddhism has no apparent external god and Hinduism has as many or as few gods as the believer chooses. Other topics would include the sacred texts of each group, such as the Old and New Testament of the Bible, the Koran, the three "baskets," and the Suriti, Smriti, and Vedas. These are some of the examples of the very basic aspects of the religions that would be taught in these classes.

Religion is a fundamental part of billions of people's lives around the world. Giving children going through school the option to take a religion class to expand their understanding of other religions is something that most American's should desire. After all it is very rare to find a person who believes understanding other people better is a bad thing. Yet when you get down to specifics, suddenly some people start getting appalled by the idea of learning about some beliefs, traditions or unknown practices.

The resistance when it comes to religion seems to be very fierce sometimes, as people already have their hands on what they believe to be "The Truth" they refuse to look at other religion. Why they refuse is something that seems illogical, especially if you have a strong belief, but still many reasons come up for not learning about other religions.

USA promotes freedom of religion and the first amendment states that no religion should be treated differently. The interpretation for this seems to be somewhat off though since the government has chosen to instead almost completely ignore religions in school, despite the huge impact it has on history, modern society, and politics. Many complain about the narrow minds some American's show and it seems allowing the studies of religion in school would alleviate some of that ignorance.

Emile Lester and Patrick S. Roberts conducted a study at the city school of Modesto in California, following the results of a world religion class for 9th graders. The results of the study is hardly staggering but being able to affect students values and opinions with a single class is still quite noteworthy.

Students taking the course came out with a better general understanding of the world religions, seeing the many similarities that connect them. This understanding showed some change in the acceptance

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