Yes, you read that right! Let’s have more religious tests in public schools. Here’s my reasoning.
One more story: a local Episcopal priest knows that I used to teach courses on World Wisdom traditions. She was concerned because someone wanted to lead a book discussion at church on Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, Heretic. The priest wasn’t sure if this would lead to misunderstandings about Islam.
My response was that I recommend the book (esp. since I’m a secular freethinker!) and think that people will be fine if there is a thoughtful and balanced facilitator. I said that when I teach courses on religions (from a naturalistic perspective) I always encourage students to
- Read the scriptures of other faiths and make up their own minds
- Meet people of other faiths to give a more direct, human face to the issues
I then told the priest that I think both of these critical steps are missing from most of our educational approaches.
So, as I say, maybe it’s time to teach about religions (faith as well as non faith) in schools–public as well as private schools. Otherwise, how in the world are people, especially little people, ever going to learn to make rational choices from a variety of worldviews?
This is happening in many places, in numerous progressive schools. But not enough. Wherever there is fear-based faith running unchecked, we get a shut-down of reasonable discussion, which of course always leads to more fear and irrationality. In other words, it leads to bad education. . .or no education really at all.