Sun Feb 15, 2004

Knowing about Religion

Kevin Drum is surprised to learn that schools in Britain offer religious education classes. (Ireland is the same, by the way.) He comments that “I don’t think there’s anything unconstitutional about teaching a “History of Religion” class or something like it in an American high school, but it just wouldn’t happen. And then a proposal to add atheism as one of the highlighted religions? Kaboom!”

I’ve wondered before about this, in part because of a course in Classical Social Theory that I teach. I usually take a detour for a lecture before we read some Max Weber, because a chunk of the class (upper-level undergraduates) will have no clear idea what the Reformation was. This surprised me when it first happened, but now I anticipate it. Last year I got a very nice evaluation from an evangelical Protestant student saying, in part, “Thanks for respecting my views and for all the information about where Protestantism came from! I never knew that!” She would wear “Jesus Loves You” t-shirts to class and really livened up our discussions about Durkheim.