Studies find many students ignorant about world religionsTuesday, March 13, 2012 By Catherine E. Lemel, staff writer/reporter
There are many diverse religions around the world with their own traditions and rules. In fact there are so many, that many people often get confused when trying to distinguish them from one another. It is a fact, however, that many people in America are not able to identify the five main religions of the world which consist of Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam. There are many misunderstandings about the different types of religions. Tanner Hutchins, sophomore, said that he believes that Christianity is right and that the other religions are flawed but it does not mean that he hates the people of that particular faith. Megan Kelly, freshman also said that she believes that Christianity has a more stable foundation to its beliefs and that in some of the other religions such as Islam it is not as stable in their beliefs and that some people in that faith feel that they need to be extreme with thier actions. Kelly also said that she believes that Buddist teachings are good but, she said, "they are kind of ridiculous." According to Cassi Smith, senior, other religions [besides Christianity] were "man-made and they do not have any real base behind their traditions, but Christianity was backed up" and had reasons that she understood and that there was a reasonable base behind all of the practices. According CNN.com there were many misconceptions created about Muslims, or people who practice the Islamic faith, in America after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York, NY. According to the website, these misconceptions were brought up because the terrorist that executed the plane heist studied the Islamic faith and since the incident devastated America, many people have linked the religion to extremists. There are many people stepping up, however, to stop the stereotyping. At times, when religion comes up in parts of the public school curriculum, the topics can be sensitive but according to long term substitute history teacher Terry Lewis, it is important to approach the situation with caution. He said that the topic of religion does not come up too much in Civics and Economics class but when it does he explains to the students up front that the class is just determining the separation of church and state and not a theological discussion. He also said that a key to keeping the topic of religion from becoming controversial is to not portray any of his own beliefs to the class and to maintain neutrality. According to Tolerance.org, teachers should not try to promote any one kind of religion and to stay neutral because the students learn by example. If a teacher shows tolerance to all kinds of religions then the students will also have an open mind towards other religions. The website also suggests that teaching students about all divers religions and their impacts on society is constitutional but prompting a single religion or religion in general is not. According to Brevard local Reverend Mike Jordan, some of the causes of the misconceptions is ignorance and a way to combat that ignorance is to teach and educate students on how the religions work. Jordan said that you don’t have to promote the religions but "you have to educate students about the religions."