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Opinions . . . Ideas . . . Questions

Religion:  Teaching Religion

It is hard not to think about religion this week as it is both Easter and the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover. And when it comes to religion and your children, two questions come to mind. (1) Should your children learn about religions other than your own? And (2), should religion be taught in the public school system?

In my book, “Teach Your Children Well” (available through this website), one of the 50 Essential Experiences is for your children to Learn About the World’s Great Religions.

So I think it is obvious that I think your sons and daughters should learn about religions other than your own. And the reason is because this is what other people may believe. And, in order to understand others your children must understand what others believe in. Your sons and daughters do not have to subscribe to the belief systems of these religions – just understand them.

No matter who you are or where you come from, there is the need and desire to know the unknown. Mankind has a need to explain the “why.” Religion helps to satisfy that need. And every religion answers the “why” in a different way.

Many religions are ancient, so learning about them may also include learning about the history of the people and the regions where those religions started. In learning about other religions your daughters and sons may also learn about the historical figures and stories mentioned in their holy books.

As to whether religion should be taught in the public school system?  I am of two minds about this one. I certainly believe that learning about the religions of the world is a worthy pursuit for your daughters and sons, but I am not convinced that any school system (whether public or private) is the proper forum for this education.

There may be too much political influence to stress one religion over another, and I would find it hard to trust that school teachers could adequately communicate the beliefs of a religion without resorting to preaching.

So I will leave it to the parents and caregivers to teach their children about the religions of the world. And, in teaching your children, perhaps you parents will learn something as well.



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