Teaching Religion in Schools Is Not a Matter of “If” But of “How”
- By Alison Lesley --
- 08 Aug 2015 --
Is it Best to Preserve Religion’s Mysteries or Teach Religion in Schools to Better Understand The World Around Us?
Although religion has been part of the subjects at schools and universities, the debate as to whether it should be included in the curriculum or not still continues.
Those who oppose argue that religious subjects will only cause serious damage to a student’s intellectual understanding of the world. Since religion and science have contradicting views in so many aspects like the origin of life, health and medicine, implementation of laws, etc, it will only result to confusion among people. As much as possible schools should only teach subjects which can be validated by facts and proofs.
It makes sense to back away from the fear and embrace religion as cultural insight – should be taught! http://t.co/e2W2EKeF8z
— Anna Bryant (@AnnaBryant20) July 30, 2015
Additionally, believers also point that keeping religion out of school will help preserve its mysteries. And when science fails to explain a certain subject, religion steps in to take its place.
On the other hand, those who strongly support the inclusion of religious subjects at school believe that understanding religion is the best prerequisite to understanding politics, societies, cultures, and history in general. According to Rev. Mark Fowler and Marisa Fasciano, religions helps ensure and improve diversity as well as the creation of those needed bridges that connect different systems of belief.
Historian Jon Butler in a 2003 report from The First Amendment Center stressed the need for religious education. He cites his observation that today, religious literacy rates among college and high school students are getting lower and lower. It’s a dangerous trend especially for those who become part of the military and eventually sent for battle or peace-keeping missions in countries (Middle East) where the main issues of conflict involve religion.
But author Charles Haynes points that the issue is not really an “if” (whether to include religion at schools or not). Instead, the main problem would “how” to effectively integrate it in education.
Teaching religion as a social science
According to Derek Beres of the Big Think, the best way to teach religion at schools is to treat it as a social science. After all, religion is considered as a social science subject.
He cites that “We’d better able to wrap our heads around religion if we treated it as a social science”. Scientific understanding of religion is vital since most of the global issues that we face today are essentially affected by different religious views.
He argues that when religion is treated scientifically, we will find better ways of teaching and incorporating religious subjects at schools. Another benefit of doing so is the opportunity of peer reviewing or cross-checking of evidences. That is; it will be much easier to catch and pinpoint religious misconduct throughout history similar to how mistakes of the “old sciences” were detected and exposed by today’s facts and evidences.
Religion needs to evolve in a scientific manner just like the fates of other social science divisions from psychology, geography, to anthropology.