1 worldCredit: Religious Tolerance.org

Religion is pertinent to politics, national security, education, history, economics, and social-cultural behavior worldwide. We need to know at the very least about the major world religions. Too much has been made of the differences in religions and it has closed doors to the common themes present. The reasons listed below are for the study of religion(s), not the study of a religion. The teaching about religion, not advocation of a certain religious worldview.

  1. A look at world history informs that religion is the greatest force for good and evil in the world, so we should know about the different religions of the world.
  2. The religious diversity in the United States alone is reason enough to learn about the religion of people we interact with socially. The workers we job share with, friends who have different religions, and new relations that we make have their own religion, we should be familiar with it.
  3. Humans are marked by their identity. Religion is one of the markers, like race, gender, ethnicity, etc. If a person is identified as a Hinduism practitioner for example, it would be nice for the identifier to know that it is one of the oldest live religions on earth, and there is no single founder credited with the great religion.
  4. The more we know about religion, the less we fear. Some religions are divided into branches like Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and Reform that distinctively approach the study of that religion a bit differently. Initial familiarity with the religion dispels the fears of the distinctive branches, and furthers religious literacy.
  5. It would be impossible to have any interfaith dialogue without the study of religion. In this day of religious strife a greater knowledge of other cultures is a necessity, and religion is a major piece of cultural view. Can you imagine being a diplomat to a foreign country and not knowing the major religion of that country? Dialogue would be limited at best.
  6. The different types of religion learned by studying religion leads to ancient cultural knowledge, and shows historical, cultural, and social insights to now. Some of current religious observances stem from ancient practices.
  7. The student could find out about nonscriptural religions. They are nature oriented religions common to indigenous groups worldwide. One example is Huna Kupua, a nature worship religion handed down via oral tradition. The practice is in the state of Hawaii.
  8. How nice would it be to be familiar with the correct protocol when attending a friend’s bar mitzvah, or a friend’s Catholic mass, or any number of observances or celebrations that are unknown because they differ from your practice. It’s a bit like saving face because you know how to respond. That’s worth the study of religion.
  9. Promotes open-mindedness so preconceptions can be minimized, and religious tolerance expands to a depth beyond the right or wrongness of a different religion.
  10. Awakens curiosity about the effects of religion and the growth, demise and life of religion. The experiental aspects become new findings and the world becomes smaller, more comfortable, less frightening. The curiosity feeds research and sharing about religion. It’s all good!