I have never seen a public school that taught theology, or that taught of any of the worlds religions. Are there any public schools in the USA out there that teach theology?
The most I have seen any school do was teach religion demographics in geography class, and other religion statistics. Or, in some social studies and/or history classes, they might teach the social and political impact of religion on a society. The how and why of migration, persecution, etcetera, is the subject of a history course. It is not the same as teaching the religion itself, it isn’t the subject of theology.
Teaching only the history, demographics, and social/political influences of various religions is as vague and inadequate as teaching children that science exists, but not teaching anything about the sciences themselves. “Biology is a science, there are many biologists in the world, they have done great deeds and been responsible for many atrocities which we don’t mind telling you about, but we wont tell you what biology is the study of or any facts about it..”
I am suggesting that the dogmas and the tenets of religion is exactly what needs to be taught.
I’m not suggesting that schools should focus on any one particular religion. Nor am I suggesting that they should preach or instill religious faith or develop anyone’s spiritual awareness.
Studying religion from a cultural, historical, analytical frame of mind is a science in itself, it’s a sub-category of anthropology. Theology is a science – as much so as any cultural study – a specific anthropological study. As much as mythology, anthropology, “Black Heritage,” or “Women’s History.” Religion isn’t a science only in the faith/worship aspect of it. But any theologian can tell you studying a religion does not make you religious, just as learning how to add two numbers when and if you needed to does not make you mathematician.
How can any school be considered adequate if they don’t teach all subjects… if they don’t teach religion?
Why should schools, teachers, or parents be afraid of this?
Wouldn’t teaching about the various worlds religions help prevent religious-based hate crimes and help create religious tolerance? Or is that not what our society is after?
It certainly would help put an end to misconceptions and false stereotypes. Knowledge is what we pursue, is it not? Not the opportunities to reinforce bigotries?
And, with greater tolerance in the world, the religious/spiritual will feel more free to pursue their faith. Atheists wouldn’t be so afraid to publicly admit to and pursue their desire to know or not know.
At the very least, teaching the fundamentals will help empower any theist (or atheist) to convert someone else, or at least help them to reinforce their own belief/disbelief. You cannot argue a point thoroughly if you know nothing of your opposition. How many people ask ridiculous religion questions or inquire about religion in one way or another? Sometimes out of criticism and sometimes out of a true desire to know, but the religious always have an explanation. How can you pose an argument or form a rebuttal if you know nothing about the faith you are trying to undermine or back? And why should you be afraid to study the religion in the first place in order to gain this sort of understanding?
Religion is real. Not that the tenets of them are real, but that the religions themselves do in fact exist. And they differ. How does remaining ignorant of the religions and their differences help our society? You wouldn’t stop sending your kids to math class because you don’t see a use for the subject. You wouldn’t stop sending your kids to science because it undermines your religious faith, or because one science was different from another.
If your kids got an A+ in mathematics but got a D in history, would you be proud? Why does history matter? It would depends on a child’s life-long goals whether or not history would be useful. But as a teacher or parent, who are you to decide what a child’s career and personal endeavors should and shouldn’t be? The child may not even know yet. Stupidity, regardless of the subject, is not something to be proud of. I am ashamed of the fact that I still don’t know what Hanukkah is a celebration of and I am in my 27th year of living.
Church does not teach theology. They teach religious faith. They focus on one particular religion, teach it in a certain way, and they instill religious faith. They don’t lecture, they preach. Whereas a school teaches a subject in an academic, objective, factual way, and are supposed to remain unbiased (which is what the pursuit of knowledge is all about). But the abandonment of religion as an academic subject is very biased, its pro-atheist, and very driven by an atheists fear of faith.
I shouldn’t have to send my children to a different church/temple on a daily or weekly basis just so that they can learn about religion. Some religions don’t even have a specific, or publicly available place of worship. Secondly, sending them to churches would only instill faith, not a rational and intellectual understanding of the religion without the faith.
In fact, sending my children to churches to learn about religion does not enforce their education. I want a consistent grading system under one administration. I want the professionalism, structure, and indifference that only a school can provide (not that they currently do).
This has nothing to do with the separation of church and state. I am not suggesting that any religious groups, churches or institutions should have any role in academics or influence over a schools program. I am suggesting that the State, on the other hand, should remain indifferent and teach academia in all its forms. The State should not dictate academia whatsoever – including what subjects do or don’t get taught, and bigoted parents should have no say in what shouldn’t be permitted in academia.
There is no excuse for the state (or parents) to want to keep their children ignorant of their world. Religious faith aside, religion is an integral part of our history, culture, current legal structure, and drives many world events. Religion is unavoidable in our world, and probably the most influential, and yet it is the one subject not taught in school. How can our children be prepared for any aspect of life when an entire aspect of humanity is left open to ignorance, stereotype, bias, and prejudice? Is this truly what parents and governments want?
Opponents to this movement suggest that there is no difference between theism and theology. I would argue that teaching science is not the same as teaching atheism. I have never attended a science class that actually preached against a god. If they did, that would be wrong for it would be an inappropriate mix of (non)religious belief making its way into education. Nevertheless, opponents are wrong because there is an inappropriate mix as is. The refusal of theology in school on the fearful basis that theism will be instilled.
If parents, or any religious group, get upset about (any particular) religion being taught in school, and they do so on religious or atheistic grounds, then that would indeed be a combination of church and state. Determined religious faith or determined atheism being the sole bases for teaching or not teaching a subject academically is a violation of “church and state” laws. Just as atheists don’t want religious theology taught in schools, I do. Why do the atheists get preferential treatment?
No one would argue we shouldn’t teach science, even though the tenets of science undermines many religious doctrines. Isn’t the states adoption of science an act of deliberately undermining church views? How is that not in violation of Church and State separation? How is it not in violation for the State to dictate that religion cannot be taught?
Christians lost the battle for banning “evolution” in school a long time ago. Its hypocritical that science can be taught, as it undermines religion, but religion cannot be taught because it undermines science. Faith isn’t what I am suggesting needs to be taught, but rather a rational, objective study of theologies. That religious theology be fairly placed as part of a curriculum in the social sciences.
This is not a pro-religion, or theist, argument. This is an argument in favor of all the subjects, all the sciences, in favor of education, for the prosperity of our society as a whole. A biased academic system is not a place I want my children to learn. Our schools are biased against theism, and that violates the very nature of academia. The pursuit of knowledge… we cannot dictate what is a valid or more significant knowledge. Which should weigh heavier: science or history, biology or physics, government or economics? Under what basis is the purely rational, objective study of theology not included as a part of academia?
Colleges offer it, and you don’t have to be admitted to a religious school to get it. I should not have to enroll my children in colleges to ensure they get their full education.
I do not have to be a theist or know anything about any religion to pose this argument. I am a rational, objective observer of my world who values knowledge and understanding, regardless where that knowledge takes me or what subject it is of. I do not decide what to believe… I believe in the truth, regardless of what that truth is. Any argument otherwise is irrational and biased. Preventing knowledge is a philosophy of a stunted, ignorant, intolerant society. I am neither pro-religion nor pro-atheism, I am pro-education.
Religion must be taught prior to the college level. It is already available in college, and college courses are voluntary. College itself is voluntary. Theology is available in any book store and online. Unfortunately, people choose not to learn these subjects on their own free will. As a consequence, they remain ignorant of them. Its no wonder a society with a free exchange of information would remain violent.
All children should get at least a taste of theological knowledge as a part of a required elementary education, before they decide on elective courses.
Children must be taught theology as a mandatory subject, at an age prior to the formation of hateful bitterness, prejudice, and stereotypes that ultimately drive a wedge in society between religions and atheists. For the same reason we teach race-based subjects and gender-studies, to end unfairness, bias and prejudice, we must also teach religion-based subjects.
Our pre-existing intolerance of certain subjects is the true reason they are not taught in our schools. But that is not the rationale we use to justify our motives.
Only when children have been educated first can they decide to learn more or not, but at least they may know enough to not develop hatred. And if a parent is afraid that a child may chose to study religion of his own free will, then surely that is proof-enough of the bigotry a parent has against religion.
If the biasing of the curricula, and the possibility that a religious teacher will start preaching instead of educating, is the issue you are faced with, there are recourses you can take. These recourses are already in place as avenues of action for any parent.
How teachers respond to difficult questions whose answers only lie in faith? A teacher need only objectively explain the reasoning and rationale that a person of faith will hold, and site the scriptural evidence.
How will teachers respond to questions in which prior info contradicts other info (two religions)? The same way a teacher responds to questions about Revolution in the Americas and in France – they are two different subjects! A teacher is just as responsible for explaining the fact that they are two separate religions as a student would be to recognize and study that fact.
Or course we cannot get into full detail of every religion, perhaps a little of each. It doesn’t matter how thoroughly religions are taught, just so long as we start somewhere and see what we can fit in. High school physics barely scrapes the surface of Newtonian physics. A little nuclear here and there. But ultimately, physics is a subject that takes many years to thoroughly know. They concept build, teaching the basics one year, a little more the next. Why would you expect theology to be any different?
I am in favor of an unbiased education system. Anything short of that is severely lacking.