Should Religion be Taught in Schools?

By Dr. Tracy Vasquez and Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick

students praying in school

Some teachers of faith may struggle with the idea of bringing up the topic of religion in the classroom. Is it all right to share about one’s belief system? What and how is the best way to incorporate faith into your classroom practices?

Learning About Religions

Exposing students to texts from different religions can be helpful to student learning when shared in context for the development and advancement of societies. For example, a reading from the Bhagavad Gita (Hindu text) can be used to guide a discussion on the historical time in which it was written, or an analysis of the language used. Additionally, students may be encouraged to examine the correlation between religion in school and advancement of sciences. For instance, students can research how mathematical concepts such as calculus and trigonometry came into practice with the advancement of Islam.

Religious practices can be explored for historical contexts and further understanding for the development of such practices. For example, many religions make sacrifices or abstain from certain holidays or celebrations. The abstaining from pork can be studied for alignment with poor quality of meat or refrigeration challenges over time. Many indigenous people have various practices and traditions on hair lengths and styles, including facial hair.

Eliminating Stereotypes and Prejudice

Another way that teachers can incorporate religion in the classroom within their practice is by examining different cultures, their perspectives, and sources of motivation. Students can examine historical conflicts and reasons why the disagreements have occurred. In doing so they will have the opportunity to provide their perspectives on how to mitigate conflicts in the future. When students are given the opportunity to explore diverse cultures and evaluate the causes that have led to conflicts, they are more likely to appreciate the viewpoints of others, exercise empathy and apply critical thinking skills. You can help students apply these skills when they are faced with problems that require brainstorming for a viable solution.

Finding Commonalities With Social Teachings

A third way of incorporating religion into your practice is by providing an opportunity for students to compare and contrast the various religions’ social teachings. Many religions have some common virtues, or principles of character development. By incorporating these words of virtues, you can help students understand how to implement practices of behavior that can develop the advancement of their value traits, such as caring, compassion, generosity, love, kindness, thankfulness and truthfulness. These practices will reach across diverse languages and cultures to satisfy all with satisfaction and love. You can easily incorporate these ideas by referencing the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Ultimately, as educators we want to provide opportunities for our students to make connections, build authentic relationships and become productive global citizens. By examining and reflecting on the impact of different religions on the advancement and development of our civilization, we can expand the minds of our students and promote understanding, respect and fellowship.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.