Religion is not only at the crux of electoral and international politics, its influence has also been on the rise in the past few decades. Naturally, the most religiously diverse nation in the history of humanity ensures that its students learn about this omnipresent force, right?
California’s Modesto school district is the only one in the country to require students to take a world religions course. Students are allowed to opt out of the 9th grade class, but in the eight years it has been offered, few have. Those that oppose the class on grounds of ‘constitutionality’ are failing to make an important distinction: there is a big difference between teaching religion and teaching about religion. Though it requires exceptional preparation and tact, the latter is both legal and imperative.
Numerous media reports have tracked the success of this course, with multiple studies noting that students gained “respect for religious liberty as well as for basic First Amendment rights.” Sounds good to me.
I find it more than a little ridiculous that a graduate of the K-12 American school system will have taken roughly 26 semesters of mathematics (with many courses in obscure disciplines like trigonometry) but not a single course on the world’s religions. As Americans, we come into contact with someone of a different faith on a fairly regular basis. Trigonometry, on the other hand…well, let’s just say I haven’t given sine or cosine a thought since my junior year of high school. After all, very few of us spend our days computing the relationship between the sides and angles of a triangle.