A list of reasons why students should learn about world religions as part of their primary education.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is just one of the firm believers that religion should be an integral subject at schools including the freedom of religious expression for young children. Speaking at James Madison High School in 1995, Clinton cited that “Nothing in the First Amendment converts our public schools into religion-free zones or requires all religious expression to be left behind at the schoolhouse door. Government’s also may not discriminate against private religious expression during the school day.”
"America's public schools were never meant to be religion free zones." ~ President Bill Clinton
— Battlefield Area FCA (@BattlefieldFCA) August 14, 2012
The former president feels that the current environment people are living in is becoming too secular. If America promotes religious freedom, it should not result to the idea of freeing the country from religion. But why is it beneficial to introduce facts about the different religions or a general religion subject to the young students at school? Linda K. Wertheimer of OnFaith has compiled some of the best reasons that explain why:
It prevents bullying at school. Because discrimination is strictly prohibited in the country, all schools whether public or private have students coming from different classes, races and beliefs or religions. But bullying can be a problem especially when a child is the only Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, or non-Christian inside the classroom. Teaching religion promotes understanding and respect among children.
Religion is essential for students to understand history, culture, and current events. Most parents think that religion subjects are only about the Bible and scriptures. But it could be interesting to note how the subject is closely linked with history, culture, and literature. Having basic religion background also lets young children understand the current issues which are regularly on the news.
For children to understand the logic behind yearly events and celebrations. Almost everyone in the country participates in traditional celebrations like New Year, Valentines, Holy Week or Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Christmas. Most people today, celebrate these occasions without really knowing the real reasons why. Did you know that all these events have their religious meanings and symbolisms? Religion subjects at schools should help in explaining these associations and meanings to children.
Schools have the best tools and techniques to teach facts about religion. Another good reason to incorporate religious studies at school is the ability of teachers to deliver the lessons objectively. Although parents are always free to introduce religion to their kids, teachers have the proper training and study aids for the young children to easily understand the seemingly complex religious concepts.
It is best to start educating children while they are young. It is best to introduce religion even at a younger age because children are at their peak of formative or learning capability. The things they learn as a child especially the different religious symbols and meanings will be there to stay even when they reach adulthood.
To increase religious literacy among Americans. As Bill Clinton said, the United States is a country that is proud of its stance on religious freedom. But many are frustrated that majority of Americans are ignorant when it comes to religion. Some adults don’t even know that the Catholic Church is part of Christianity as a whole; that Dalai Lama belongs to and practices Buddhism; or that certain Asian countries are Muslim by faith. Religious studies at schools bring that hope of improving that religious literacy.
Simply because the US is a multi-faith country. Majority of Americans are Christians. But it is home to almost all other religions as well. And the populations of other faiths are expected to grow based on several studies. This is simply because of immigration that resulted to a multi-cultural, racial, and multi-faith community the country now has. This is perhaps one of the simplest reasons why religion should be studied by children at schools.