Why a World Religions Course Should Be Reguired
Why a World Religions Course Should be Required for High School Students Our nation’s founding fathers put forth an amendment to the United States Constitution declaring that it is every American citizen’s sole right as a human being to practice whatever religion he pleases without repercussion from his government. Since then, the U. S has become a “melting pot” ofa variety of cultures and religions. In fact, we have come to be known as the “nation of immigrants” in that the United States of America is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world.
Our nation’s olerance for religious freedom has resulted in an astonishing number of organized faiths about which most of us know little about. The lack of knowledge over our nation’s assortment of religious cultures can easily lead to unwarranted behavior and dire consequences. It only makes sense that we learn to understand our fellow man with whom we share this nation and this world. There is no better starting point for this transformation than with students at a high school level who are still at a formative age and are Just beginning to grasp the world around them.
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Therefore, it hould be required for all high school students to take a World Religions course in order to graduate. In many incidents in this country and abroad, those that are not exposed to other cultures and religions possess a limited view of the world. Ignorance at this level perpetuates a fear of the unknown and can ultimately lead to discrimination against those that are different from themselves. It is essential for students to acquire a stronger knowledge of important religious cultures in order to help prevent targeted acts of religious “hate violence” in our schools and our communities.
According to Carrie Kilman, author of “One Nation, Many Gods,” students who had to take a world religions course, required for graduation, at a Modesto, California high school, proclaimed to researchers time and time again that they have transformed the way they perceive other cultures and those belonging to a different religion, in that they feel compelled to stand up for those who practice a different faith, against people who are chastising them for their beliefs (par. 34).
Furthermore, a World Religions course can provide a voice to those that may have felt ostracized because of their faith. The more educated students are about religion and its influence, the more likely they are to promote and practice peace and tolerance. That is why it is crucial for students to enroll in a World Religions class as a requirement for high school graduation. There are those that believe that a required World Religions course would be a violation of the constitutional provision that establishes separation from church and state.
In fact, it would be a violation of church and state if the class was taught in a prosthelytizing manner. Indeed there was an incident in which a public school teacher abused her role as an educator by dvocating a specific religion in the classroom. According to Andrea Peyser, author of “Board Was Right to Strike Like Lightning,” Mildred Rosario, a New York City public school teacher, preached to her sixth grade students that Jesus Christ, the son of God, had died for all of our sins. Rosario preached to her students despite the fact beliefs (par. ). Any student in the classroom that was not of the Christian faith may have felt marginalized or ostracized by this explicit recognition of the Christian religion. However, it is important to note that a World Religions course would provide actual, historical, and unbiased information about different religions. In fact, it would not explicitly teach scripture or any specific doctrine. Much like a World History class, a World Religions class would provide key information about how a people and various cultures evolved over time.
More specifically, a World Religions course will help strengthen students understanding of the foundation of previous and modern American culture. James Bushman, author of “Teaching About Religions in World History Courses,” explains that a high school setting is a perfect platform in hich students can learn about the influences of various religions in a safe and respectable environment. World Religions Teachers are eager to teach students about all the many principles that are held dear by different religious cultures around the world, including religious cultures belonging to the students themselves.
It is imperative that students are able to grasp the ideals that have influenced their own personal religious customs so that they may begin to empathize and appreciate why another person’s religious culture is as equally important to their own (1). Mutual understanding and respect among students of various religious cultures is why a required World Religions class is so important for their continued academic and personal development in that it helps foster a mutual understanding and respect among students of various religious cultures.
Often times a college preparatory school will offer more advanced courses than those that are typically found at a normal high school. A World Religions course will further enhance the college preparatory curriculum, in part, because it may help to broaden the student’s perception of the world. According to Bushman, the political landscape continues to be greatly affected by religion in particular nations around the world; like between the Catholics and Protestants in Ireland, or between the different sects of Islam in the Middle East.
Even the United States and India’s political landscape have been affected by religion. Religion, past and present, has played an essential role in our interactions with other modern nations and has fueled some of the dynamics of our interpersonal relationships. Since religion continues to be a dominant influence in which we connect ourselves with other cultures domestically and worldwide, it is mperative that we develop a broader more thoughtful understanding of other religious customs in order to comprehend our own traditions (par. 9). By requiring students to take a World Religions course and by encouraging them to look at the world objectively, we will have helped them to expand their interpretations of religiously and politically motivated events that continually occur in the world today. We must realize that by staying ignorant to the effect that religion has had on almost every human society we are only enabling prejudice, fear, contempt, and intolerance.
Teaching our children about the fundamental values that have been ingrained in every major religion is the first necessary step in alleviating misguided preconceptions of other religious cultures. Helping students to build a strong foundation that is made up of tolerance and understanding is the number one focal point for requiring a World Religions class. The only way we can expect people to preparatory school can provide an education that will attempt to instill in students, a keen knowledge of different religious cultures, and most importantly how truly onnected we all are in the human experience.