This I Believe

Cassandra - Nampa, Idaho
Entered on March 23, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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World Religion Course in High School

I believe that high schools in America should offer a world religion and theology course. I’m not talking about a seminary class or release time that focuses on one religion; I mean a class that teaches at least the basics and some more of the major religions.

The reason I think this is because, as we are a country at war in the Middle East, I’ve realized that a lot of people are very ignorant and discriminatory to the religion of Islam. Then I realized that a lot of people are ignorant to every religion but their own, and a lot of times just religion in general.

I think that if a world religion class was offered, students may be able to open their minds to what others believe. I think it would help them learn tolerance, understand which religion is which, and why they do the things they do. If this was offered people wouldn’t judge so harshly. I find that some only judge that which we don’t understand, including me.

If I took this course I would expect to learn about the history of theology and religions, comparative religion, the philosophy of religion, how they came to be, what they believe, and why. I would expect that the religions taught would be divided according to how long they’ve been around, and how complicated the beliefs are. I would also expect to be taught about atheistic beliefs and the numerous cults that have formed, not that the two are related.

This class would have to be optional, because you cannot force someone to learn about religion if they don’t want to. Although the teacher would never mention his/her own religion, and would try to be as unbiased as possible. They would also allow debates in class to some extent.

I understand the existence and importance of separation between church and state, but ignorance can only be tolerated to some point. Plus, I think the separation between church and state does not apply to this situation if the class is taught as you would teach a history class. I think this class would be more related to culture and history studies, anyway. What is culture without religion?