Teaching About Religion

November 2002

The cover story in The November issue of NEA Today includes an incredibly balanced article on how to deal with religion in public education without violating the First Amendment. It also includes some wonderful resources and suggestions about dealing with the December holidays.

Navigating Religion in the Classroom should be read and distributed widely among educators and parents. It can help reduce the tensions often associated with religious issues and by helping everyone appreciate the ideals of the First Amendment these resources can help your district find the common ground to allow diverse groups to work together despite their deepest differences.

The article offers four guidelines for a school's approach to religion:

  • focus on studies about religion, not the practice of religion;
  • be academic, not devotional;
  • strive for student awareness of religions, but not press for student acceptance of any religion;
  • expose students to a diversity of religious views, but not impose any particular view.

Many in educators mistakenly think that religion and religious issues must be ignored in public education, when that is far from the truth. Rather than create a neutral environment, ignoring religion creates a hostile environment to people of faith. Public schools can get this right and here is an excellent resource to continue the dialogue in your district.

Wayne Jacobsen, President
BridgeBuilders

Also, BridgeBuilders will be doing a series of workshops this fall and winter in a variety of California counties. If you’re interested in attending a Common Ground Workshop in Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Ventura, Fresno, Tulare, or Yuba counties, please email us.

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Worldviews Education Watch (WEW) is a free service provided by BridgeBuilders offering the latest information on religious liberty and public education drawn from court cases, policies and current events. It will also share examples of successful partnerships and cooperation between public schools and faith communities.

To subscribe send email to: waynej@bridge-builders.org and request, "Subscribe Worldviews Watch."

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