Friday, December 02, 2005

It's too important not to know

It makes sense for public high schools to teach about major world religions. Indeed, considering the profound effects, good and bad, that religion has had and will continue to have on history and culture, I'd support a mandatory course to teach high schoolers about the tenets of a host of faiths as a way to reduce conflict stemming from people's misunderstandings of each other's beliefs.

For those reasons and more, I'm OK in principle with the elective Bible literacy courses that are gaining popularity in Alabama schools lately. Ideally, the schools' religion electives would take a more holistic approach rather than focusing pretty much exclusively on Judeo-Christianity, but the narrow scope isn't necessarily a problem if the courses offer an impartial look at how the Bible has affected Western civilization and if middle-school and high-school social studies instruction continues to incorporate lessons about other religions as well.

A legitimate concern in an overwhelmingly Christian state is that devout teachers could place non-Christian students in an uncomfortable position by turning ostensibly academic classes into little more than daily sermons. Chances are, that'll happen somewhere. But the risk of biased instruction arguably would be just as great in a broader-scoping religious class, and the course's elective nature somewhat allays the fears of students being proselytized to against their will.

In the end, Christianity's prominent role in Western history, culture, and politics is too great for public schools to ignore. It's up to the schools' administrators to ensure that educators remain on the right side of the fine line between teaching and preaching.

2 Comments:

Blogger Jackson Whitlock said...

The idea that any other religions should be forced upon or even given "equal time" as Christianity in the US is ludicrous, considering the percentages of people who consider themselves Christians and the level of intertwinement into our society, past and present. I scoff at the idea.

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5:43 AM  
Blogger Alabamian said...

The government shouldn't try to force any religion on anyone, nor should it try to persuade citizens to be irreligious. But schools should teach students about the basic tenets of major world religions and the historical and cultural impact those religions have had and continue to have, without advocating for or against those religions. Knowledge about the spiritual beliefs of people here and elsewhere in the world is a mark of a good education.

8:05 AM  

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