Teachers Shouldn’t Religiously Avoid Lessons About Faith

In a point-counterpoint for InsideSources about whether teachers in public schools should be allowed to freely discuss religious issues with their students, Project 21 member Derryck Green pointed out that “comprehensive education necessarily includes learning and discussing issues of faith.”

But, as he noted in his commentary, which was reprinted in newspapers such as the Charleston Post and Courier and Naples Daily News, “[t]his is not an easy process when rules keeping religion off school grounds are rigidly enforced.” Specifically, he noted, the problem has to do with limitations on teachers “discuss[ing] Christianity with their students.”

There’s no reason that teachers cannot have informative conversations with their students about the role that religion has played in society and its indelible impact on history. To not do so, Derryck explained, puts students at an obvious disadvantage:

The reality is that the majority of people on the planet are religious. The majority of people in human history have been religious. Even most Americans are still religious, though the number is declining. Thus American students should be exposed to religion (or religions), if for no other reason than to have a functional knowledge of faith and principles such as doctrine, dogma, religious practice and spirituality. Students should understand religious influences on human ideas, thoughts, attitudes and behaviors – even if they decide not to follow any specific religion.

Knowledge about religion has incredible value. Religion can impart wisdom, morality, civility and mutuality. If done correctly, it regulates human impulses and bad behavior. It distinguishes between the sacred and the profane, and encourages charity and good behavior. Those who study religion will learn how others relate to the divine (or deities) through faith, and on the flip side, they can see the practical consequences of bad religion.

Nonetheless, there has been a purge of religion from the public school curriculum. The consequences of this folly are obvious:

The resulting unfamiliarity with religion has done a tremendous educational disservice to generations of schoolchildren. Separating religious instruction from school has suppressed intellectual curiosity and exploration – reinforcing ignorance about the significance of religious impact on human progress, the rise of civilizations and overall global development.

Limiting exposure to religion leaves too few with a functional knowledge of it. Such inexperience has detrimental consequences later in life. Zealous prevention of religious instruction also creates and reinforces hysteria regarding people who take religion seriously.

As a result, religious ignorance permeates our culture.

In the commentary, Derryck cited a New York Times editor who acknowledged that the establishment media doesn’t “get” religion. He also provided an example of a reporter who misinterpreted the Bible.

“Much of our society’s religious illiteracy can be overcome,” Derryck advised, “if teachers are encouraged to engage in unbiased discussions of religion rather than to religiously avoid it.”

InsideSources content is read by around 25 million people a month and is syndicated to almost 300 of the top American newspapers. To read Derryck’s commentary in full, click here.

Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives for over 25 years, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Its members have been quoted, interviewed or published over 40,000 times since the program was created in 1992. Contributions to the National Center are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated, and may be earmarked exclusively for the use of Project 21.