In the past few months, there has been a great deal of unrest with our perspectives on religion. There is obviously reason for this unrest – the shooting of 12 men in Paris because of a drawing they did (whilst it may not have exactly been sympathetic as a cartoon, this does not justify those men being killed), report after report of religious extremists in African countries, Westboro Baptist Church wanting to picket funerals; our world is becoming disillusioned with religion, so the headlines would say. Actual statistics would say different, but that’s an entirely different argument.
It is in light of all this unrest that some say religion needs to be taken out of schools, that young people shouldn’t be subject to learning about something which has, and still does today, cause atrocities. On a basic level, you can see their point. But personally, I think it is incredibly dangerous to say such a thing.
All of this unrest due to religion is precisely why it should still be taught in schools.
Islamaphobia is currently on the rise, due to the actions of a tiny percentage of extremists committing crimes in the name of Allah. Christianity is publicly condemned by many for only just becoming modern enough to be open to women Bishops, and is said to be anti-gay, once more because of the actions of a tiny percentage of extremists. Anti-Semitism is still rife in many countries. Yes, people are angry at what they perceive religion to be doing; but shutting the door on it will only cause yet more problems.
If a child knows nothing of Islam, or Christianity (for example), then when they see such atrocities that do occur in the name of these religions, they will automatically assume that those atrocities is what the religion is. Therefore it will lead to a build up of phobia and anger towards religion, causing a bigger rift and a greater chance of such atrocities.
The only way to deal with such situations, in my opinion, is through education about such things, to be taught about the actual fundamental beliefs of religions so people are very aware that these extremists are simply that – extremists. For example, I have grown up in a Christian household, so whilst I myself do not identify as Christian, I know when I see things on the news or in the papers about Christianity being very right wing and anti-gay and anti-women that this simply isn’t true; the majority of Christians actually are very open to the idea. Unfortunately, it is the older generation who are more uncomfortable (but that is really more of an age and culture thing than religion) and have more power in the votes – but practically all Christians I have come to meet are very open and calm about such things. Heck, our best family friends are in a civil partnership. I have found myself time and time again explaining to friends, when they state things about Christianity that simply are not true, that these are views of the minority. The amount of religious education we get in schools is going downhill; RE is becoming more of a Social Education lesson, with the actual Religious part left out – and this is wrong.
We cannot eradicate religion. When people say that I genuinely feel like laughing at them; as eradication of religion just isn’t even remotely a possibility, so it is not worth the breath talking about. So therefore what is our answer? To become more tolerant of others and their beliefs, and learn more about said beliefs.
Tolerance is the way forward to peace, and tolerance towards religion will happen through it being openly talked about in schools. And for those out there who are still angry at all Muslims for the Paris incident? Firstly, you do not associate the KKK with the entirety of Christianity so stop associating such an extremist minority with an entire religion. Secondly, you are actually part of the problem here; blaming all Muslims for such things will only make an oppressed group feel more oppressed and possibly cause more of these incidents to happen. We are all responsible for taking care of each other – so surely it’s time we added religion to that list instead of taking it away?