Adding world religion classes in public schools sounds appealing: educating children about other religions would aid them in becoming more diverse. It could help students understand the literature of the Bible.
However, most writings on the subject opt for adding world religion classes in public schools while not embracing the concept of faith. As a Catholic, the answer to whether public schools should teach world religion classes is a firm no and here are just a few reasons why.
Firstly, it is a parent’s duty to teach children matters of religion and faith.
As it states in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God’s law.”
The upbringing of children should be centrally focused on educating in matters of the faith.
Allowing for the public education system to teach children about religion gives the school district a leading role in the foundation of religious beliefs that a child receives when that is certainly the place of the parents. In turn, many parents can find it to no longer be their primal duty, but the school’s and the church’s job to educate their children on matters of the faith.
Secondly, there is no guarantee that the information a child would obtain would be accurate.
With world religion taught in public schools, each individual school district would be allowed to choose the material used to educate the children.
This means that children would be subjected to a mass amount of material that was chosen for them by people who potentially do not have the proper education or full understanding of what will be taught.
In addition, the curriculum would be picked by the political committee of the school board. This school board can choose which religions are taught and which are not, much like history figures and events.
Let it come to no surprise that in this Protestant nation we live in, Catholicism is likely to be overlooked or placed in the transcendent category with Judaism and Islam.
Finally, the idea behind teaching children world religions would be to bring about a greater understanding of the culture of others. Many articles written in favor of this have stated that the best way to teach children about religion would be to separate the education of religion from the concept of faith.
The error in these statements lies in the fact that faith is an act of obedience, according to the second Vatican Council. This is not the blind faith that many secularists believe it to be.
Yet to expect children to understand the distinction between religion and faith and then to separate the two would result in religion taking a strictly secular view.
We are risking putting God in a box to compete with the purely divine nature of pantheism or the radical freedom that exists in atheism.
By separating faith and religion, children will be taught that all religions are equal and just another choice some people make to live by, as though it were the choice to eat healthy or smoke.
As Catholics we are called to faith and obedience by committing ourselves fully to God through tradition and scripture.
Although there is no objection to being properly educated in world religions, there is the requirement that we should all demand that Catholicism and all other religions be taught to the very depths of what they are and to the reasonable person.
In “Ut Unum Sint,” St. John Paul writes, “In matters of faith, compromise is in contradiction with God who is Truth.”
A Catholic parent