The Importance of Teaching About Religion


Religion shapes people, influences cultures, and plays a major role in international relations. It can bring people together, but it can also cause conflict and stress. Regardless of its influence, studying religion is important to our global society and helps students better understand the world around them.

When teaching about religion, it is important to have a clear definition of what the term means. A number of scholars have proposed different definitions. One approach uses a functional definition similar to Durkheim’s, which defines religion as whatever dominant concern organizes a person’s values. Another view is a taxonomic definition, which looks for specific characteristics that define a religion. A polythetic definition, meanwhile, looks for more than one characteristic and considers the combination of those characteristics.

A stipulative definition, on the other hand, stipulates that a practice is religious only if it includes a belief in a single, supreme deity. While this is a widely used definition, it is flawed because there are many practices that are neither beliefs in a god nor part of any organized group. This definition is also problematic because it ignores other aspects of religion, such as rituals and social interaction.

Throughout history, scholars have been debating what characteristics a religion must possess in order to qualify as religious. Many have criticized the concept of religion as a modern invention, which was created to promote a particular ideology or to categorize certain cultures as inferior or superstitious. These criticisms were particularly prevalent in the nineteenth century, and they continue today.

Despite these arguments, most scholars agree that religion is a powerful and pervasive aspect of human culture. It is important for students to learn about religion in order to better understand the world around them and become critical thinkers. NCSS encourages all state education leaders and school districts to promote the study of religion by adopting policies, learning standards, and curriculum that are consistent with high academic standards and First Amendment principles. By doing so, they will help prepare students for the challenges of a global community.