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xhouseboy
08-12-2011, 07:00 PM
I was just wondering if religion ever actually gets taught in US schools, much like the equivalent RE studies that they have in UK schools, or even something vaguely similar.

Does this happen? Even in a historical context? Or is it a big no no?

Thanks in advance.

Calla Lily
08-12-2011, 07:06 PM
Both my kids went to/are attending public school. In "Global" class (the current term for what we called Social Studies 30 years ago) they did a comparative religion unit. The teacher brought in speakers for Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and I think one or two other religions. They also took field trips to local churches/temples/mosques. Religion is treated as part of human culture, so that's how it's taught. In the advanced history class they do a lot with religions as they relate to historical wars of conquest.

Lyra Jean
08-12-2011, 07:07 PM
Not in any public schools that I'm aware of.

In private religious schools and in colleges they offer religious study courses.

Lyra Jean
08-12-2011, 07:09 PM
Both my kids went to/are attending public school. In "Global" class (the current term for what we called Social Studies 30 years ago) they did a comparative religion unit. The teacher brought in speakers for Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and I think one or two other religions. They also took field trips to local churches/temples/mosques. Religion is treated as part of human culture, so that's how it's taught. In the advanced history class they do a lot with religions as they relate to historical wars of conquest.

This although I never got speakers when I was in school. We did have a student whose family emigrated from Russia and he shared his story because he was Jewish and that's why they left for religious reasons.

xhouseboy
08-12-2011, 08:08 PM
Many thanks to you both.

My main reason for asking is that in UK schools certain teachers are tasked with RE studies, and I was curious if there was a US equivalent to this.

Rivalen
08-23-2011, 01:04 AM
I think public schools are not allowed teach religion from a non historical perspective. Religion is allowed to be taught in private schools as a philosophy.

childoflight
08-25-2011, 08:10 AM
I'm not sure. What I do know, however, is that (according to the Founding Fathers) the teaching of religion in schools was to be restricted to universal fundamentals.

Jefferson wrote a bill for Establish Elementary Schools in Virginia and made this point extremely clear by saying: “No religious reading, instruction, or exercise shall be prescribed or practiced inconsistent with the tenets of any religious sect or denomination.”

The five fundamentals of all sound religion were best expressed by Benjamin Franklin in a letter to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale University: "Here is my creed: I believe in one God, the Creator of the universe. That he governs it by his providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable service we render to his is in doing good to his other children. That the soul of man is immortal, and will be treated with justice in another life respecting its conduct in this. These I take to be fundamental points in all sound religion."

Shakesbear
08-25-2011, 11:52 AM
Many thanks to you both.

My main reason for asking is that in UK schools certain teachers are tasked with RE studies, and I was curious if there was a US equivalent to this.

Um... In England* RE is the only subject that a teacher can refuse to teach. A teacher can be asked to teach it but has the right to refuse. Parents have the right to withdraw pupils from RE lessons. Some schools teach a subject called Ethics which is watered down RE.

*afterthought - it might be different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

citymouse
08-25-2011, 02:44 PM
I believe it's important to make a clear distinction between religious education and religious instruction.

For clarity, I'm focusing my remarks as they pertain to public schools, grades 1 through 12.

I see nothing wrong or even illegal in discussing religion in historical terms as it relates to the development of societies. It would be difficult to teach history of Medieval Europe and not discuss the role of the RCC.
One can certainly look into the differences in belief and practices between the RCC and the various protestant reformers of the 16th century to the present, for example, without leaning toward one side or the other--if one is skillful.

Religious instruction, however, is the attempt to convert or otherwise lead a person, or persons, to believe in a particular religion. This is absolutely illegal in the US public school system.