Should We Teach Religion in School Poll Data

Here is our poll data for the above question:

NO! It's against the Constitution, and/or creation science simply isn't science. 94 (38%)

Yes, but only to educate students what each religion teaches. 81 (33%)

Yes, I can agree with Dennett's proposal for an informative open debate about religion in the classroom. 60 (24%)

Yes, but only to present the evidence for creation along with evolution for debate. 8 (3%)

What do you make of the results?


matt said...

I feel as though many of the choices are answering different questions. If you were to ask me about teaching religion in a science classroom, #1 would be the obvious answer. Religion has no place in science. If you were to ask me if religion should be taught in a literature or humanities course, the easy answers would be #2 and #3.

I am not sure if your intention was to keep the answers as specific as you have, but I do know that if you broke this up in to separate polls regarding religion in science and religion in the arts, you would have fairly predictable results.

paul01 said...

The best teacher I ever had was one who openly professed opinions in the classroom and made us think. Sometimes I wonder how she got away with it- touching on subjects like recognition of Red China, birth control, etc., and offering a mini-course in comparative religion, which was nowhere to be found in the curriculum. Then again, she was only with us for a year, and went on to teach a "gifted children" class, and a few years later, retired early. So maybe she didn't get away with it.

Regardless, Dennet's proposal would be an extraordinary burden to place on John Q. Teacher, and I would not be able to support it, except in Utopia.

GordonBlood said...

All I will say concerning the poll is that whoever thinks it is against the Constitution to teach religion as a series of beliefs (as opposed to teaching theology, proper belief in God) doesnt understand the constitution... at all.

Scott said...


Perhaps these people do not think it could be taught without personal beliefs getting in the way?

Shygetz said...

Yes, gordonblood; while the idea is fine on paper, when reduced to practice it would certainly be discriminatory in practice; there is not enough time to equally teach about all religions, it would be impractical to expect religious teachers to teach the flaws of their religion, etc.

goprairie said...

There certainly IS time to give a summary of the world's major religions. To summarize the beleifs and practices of each major religion and to overview the source of the religion might do a great deal to increase tolerance and diminish arrogance. For example, most Christians forget that Judism is based on thier own Old Testament and that the basis for Islam is both their Old and New Testaments with another 'book' piled on top of that. It might make Christians remember the violent roots of their religion and it might make them more willing to beleive that moderate Muslims can indeed exist and that all are therefore not to be dismissed as violent. Teaching the core beleifs and practices and 'books' of the major religions in a factual way without promoting or demeaning any could show that Christianity is just another in the bunch and not all that special afterall. This should be done in a history or anthropology or socilology or humnities context and should be comparative.
Students in science should also be given a taste of what they will come up against in the real world, so shouldn't they be taught how to argue AGAINST non-science such as creationism and flat earth and any other kook stuff that is held as true be a significant number of people? shouldn't a little part of science curriculum be knowing how to defend it against kooks promoting pseudo-science?

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

I'd have to say that the majority of respondents either didn't understand Dennett's proposal, didn't understand the question, or don't understand the constitution.

In that regard, the winning option was poorly worded -- for two reasons. One, the proposal is *not* unconstitutional, and two, the inclusion of the phrase concerning the proposal's constitutionality is misleading, and significantly increases that option's chances of being selected, especially by voters who only give the questions a cursory glance. Americans are, for better or for worse, trained to believe that all things unconstitutional are bad.

Dennett's proposal was reasonable, but it would be extremely difficult to implement without seriously offending some religion or another (by exclusion or by inclusion). Dennett's *intent* would also be difficult to fulfill, as teaching such a class in elementary education would be virtually impossible to do. Teaching it in a High School setting would work in principle, but by that point the students who would benefit most from such exposure would be fully indoctrinated by their religion's inculcation policies.

Clearly, exposing young minds to global cultures is a good thing, but doing so in an inoffensive manner, while maintaining the integrity of the program, especially in one so sensitive as religion, would be extremely difficult. I'd like to see it attempted, but a small-scale trial study should suffice before any more rigorous national attempt should be made.

Anyway, schools should focus more on teaching students to read, utilize critical thinking skills, and succeed in mathematics before they tackle "Overview of Religion 101"...


Marianne said...

As a highschool student, i think it should be up to us. Personally, i feel that we should have a religion class option that talks about the history of it AND evolution. If we had a religion class, it could only help some of the students who are curious about it and the ones who already have a relationship with God or whatever religion they're involved in. We should be able to learn about all religions, all over the world. Who ever decided that it should be banned from school should've thought about giving us an option before completly banning the possibility.