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If religion is omitted, does education suffer?

In "Taking Religion Seriously Across the Classroom," Charles Haynes, a scholar at The Freedom Forum's First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., and co-author Warren Nord make the case that keeping religion out of school shortchanges students in all fields. Some excerpts follow.

Elementary school. "Silence about religion denies students the promise of a good education. If they are to understand the world they live in, they must be exposed at an early age to the religious dimensions of society, history, literature, art, and music. Without this foundation, they will be unprepared for ... more complex and critical study...."

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Literature and the arts. "For more than a millennium in the West, the greatest theme of a painter was the life and death of Christ, and the greatest task of the architect was to build a cathedral. The greatest work of literature in the thousand years before Shakespeare is Dante's account of hell, purgatory, and paradise.... [Yet national academic] standards never single out religion as being of any special relevance or importance in performing or studying the arts."

Science. "[National academic] standards and texts completely ignore one of the most momentous questions of modern intellectual and cultural history: the relationship of science and religion. Of course, the nature of this relationship is deeply controversial, but that would seem to be a reason for discussing rather than ignoring it."

History. "US and world history courses are replete with opportunities to alert students to religious conceptions of historical events. In the painful history of the Middle East -to cite one obvious example in world history -Jews, Muslims, and Christians have long had competing convictions about God's purposes in that region of the world."

Economics. "Because there is considerable concern in our culture about the relationship between God and mammon, it is a little surprising that there appears to be no concern about the relationship between economics, as we usually teach it, and religion."

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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