Happy Easter! Belated Happy Purim as well. And a belated Happy Holi for those of the Hindu faith. These past few days have been interesting confluence of the multitude of ways human beings celebrate their connection with God. Despite this, it still feels to me that the world is becoming less religious or at least less respectful of religion. Some research supports the former feeling.
Personally, I believe religion is an important part of the human experience. And I believe that more often than not, the practitioners of the major faiths are made better by them. I grew up in Houston and am Catholic. Yet I remember being so inspired by Hakeem Olajuwon, whose faithful adherence to his Islamic faith led him to fast during Ramadan even though he had games to play (and certainly needed food and water!). His example did not make me want to convert to Islam, but it did encourage me to pay attention to my own faith. Today’s children sadly have a different exposure to Islam, thanks to the murderous savages of ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Therefore, I wonder where, besides the news, do children today learn about religion. Most, I am sure, grow up in the faith their families hold. So Christian children will know about Christianity, and Jewish children will know about Judaism and so on. But how do children learn about other faiths? How much do Christian children know about Judaism? And how much do Jewish children know about Buddhists?
I looked over the Newton South curriculum and was surprised that there were no courses devoted to religion. A search for the word “religion” reveals only a single reference in a course called “Intermediate International Cuisine.” And no mentions of “Christian,” “Jewish,” “Hindu” or “Islam.” No mention of “atheism” either.
Is this a good thing? Or are we missing an opportunity to develop a more informed and tolerant citizenry? Or am I just off base here, either in substance or because I missed some other obvious way religion is addressed? I look forward to reading your thoughts . . .