October 13, 2010

More Religion in Schools

I was watching a documentary last night and Dale Dennett was one of the speakers. He's a philosopher and atheist and had an interesting thought on religion in schools that had never really crossed my mind. He is in favor, not of eliminating religion from schools, but mandating that all religions be taught in schools. Imagine if every child, in every school, all around the world was taught about each major religion and what the consequences would be. Children in Arkansas could learn that not all Muslims are terrorists and the wee ones in Iran could learn that the Jews in Israel aren't Satan. Imagine the dialogue that could be opened up internationally if we all knew the history, plight and tenets of each nation's religions.

I think it's a wonderful idea that becomes impractical when you imagine the PTA meeting this is brought up at. People, I suppose, would be afraid that their children would find out that the religion they were born into isn't the one true religion. But really, if your religion is true why would you be worried about your child learning about false ones? It wouldn't be indoctrination, it would be education. Religion has been a major force throughout the history of mankind and should be  put into context from a historical perspective. It would take an enlightened world populace to enact such a program but we do need to start somewhere. We can all make it a priority on our own to teach our children, and those around us, about the world's religions and see if it spreads. It's a lot harder to hate someone when you know who they are.

Image taken from: http://www.atheistmedia.com/2008_03_01_archive.html


  1. Well said. Theology is so important and it's a shame so many kids in school will never learn past what their parents think is right or wrong.

    I grew up in a Catholic church, going to Bahai Faith Sunday school when dad was around. Now, I am not part of any organized religion -- just spiritual.

  2. Actually, a lot of curricula do teach about major religions. Around here, kids are exposed to major religions when they learn World History. I'm not sure how many schools do that, though. Or even how much of it sticks with the kids. But I'd promote anything that exposes kids to other cultures and religions in a healthy way. Definitely an intriguing proposition.

  3. Here's my comment - they often talk about this as a way of showing diversity of religions, yet those of us who do not believe in religion are still outcast. "Under God" was added to the Pledge later on, and our Founding Fathers were not religious. Elective in Theology, sure, but requiring the study of something that some of us wholeheartedly disagree with something that, like it or not, is a bunch of opinions gathered over the years? Not something I'd want my kids to be forced to take. I'd rather have them spend more time learning about earth and nature and plants and life and art and music and finding ways to communicate better with each other.

  4. I'm also an atheist but I'm also of the opinion that religion has been a huge driving force throughout history. I've always been fascinated by religion much in the way I've always been fascinated by the Renaissance or the Enlightenment. It has had a huge impact on our lives today and I think we should acknowledge that (even us atheists) and teach better insight to other cultures that religions, like it or not, are ingrained into. I think if we all understood a bit more about each other's religions we would be able to communicate better with each other.


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