In Good Faith

Question: Children should be taught a comprehensive and detailed overview of all major religions at school. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Bruce Coriell - Earth-based Christian

Bruce Coriell served as an interfaith chaplain in colleges and universities for over 35 years. These days you are most likely to find him off wandering rivers and mountains.

As a lifelong educator, I aspire to foster curious learners, critical thinkers and compassionate citizens. So yes, I believe it’s our responsibility to teach the full range of human experience. I understand that educating children about religion poses unique challenges. Public schools need to be welcoming places for the wide diversity of faith traditions. We also need to assure that we treat all with equal respect, take care to educate without any hint of indoctrination and make sure to present majority and non-majority perspectives as equally important contributions. Ambitious for sure, but we can start by involving faith leaders from ALL traditions in the creation and assessment of our curricular resources. 

Ray Hendershot - Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Ray has served on a mission to England, has been a bishop, and has held other key leadership positions in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently, he works with other faiths to provide service to our community.

Children attending public school should not be taught religion. If a child attends a religious school, they may be taught the religion of the school sponsor and learn about other faiths. Colleges may offer courses on comparative religions. The responsibility for teaching children about religion, faith and morality should be on the parents, who also help them gain their own witness of God. “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God, and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.” This is from a Proclamation on the Family provided by our Prophet and President of the Church in 1995.  

Jeff Scholes - Agnostic

Jeffrey Scholes, Ph.D., is an associate professor of philosophy and the director of the Center for Religious Diversity and Public Life at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

As a teacher of World Religions for college students each semester, I, expectedly, would agree that children (at least high school students) should be taught about the major religions at school. If you think about it or remember back, economics, civics and history classes were meant not only to educate but also to provide the student with a sense of who they are. I would contend that religion has been a primary driver of all three of these and therefore is, without question, the primary driver in most lives. Some fear courses would be taught with bias and thus entangle Church and State. Good curriculum and great teachers could allay this fear. 

Ahriana Platten - New Thought-Unity

Dr. Ahriana Platten is founder-executive director of In Good Faith, leads Unity Spiritual Center and speaks around the country on the topics of interfaith and intercultural understanding.

I spent 21 years of my life traveling internationally for business. In today’s global society, an understanding of the primary cultures and religions of the world will allow our students to have greater success as adults. In many countries, religious beliefs dictate acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Beyond this obvious point, it is valuable for each of us to seek out our own religious truth rather than be limited by parental and circumstantial influences. I am in favor of religious education that includes fair and accurate information about many different faiths. I am not in favor of school-based religious education that is limited to only one faith tradition. 

— Join the conversation at InGoodFaith.org.