Taking a Closer Look at Religions Around the World

When I reflect on the incidents last week involving students who wore offensive shirts with anti-Muslim statements on them in Gainesville, Florida, I cannot help but to think of Jonathan Swift’s quote, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” I don’t agree with Swift, though. All we have to do is observe how no local company in Gainesville, Florida would agree to print the T-shirts. 

Living and traveling in many countries around the world, my firsthand experiences—of residing within other cultures and with people of different value systems—have given me a deep awareness of the essential need to understand world religions. Taking a quick look at history, we notice that many “conflicts” have come from disparities between religions and throughout the world today disputes still exist stemming from different religious beliefs. Even now, it’s hard not to notice a lack of awareness and respect for all religions.

Ever wonder why these misunderstandings arise? What makes for this deep-seated discord? Where do the tensions come from historically, geographically and politically? What aspects of people’s beliefs cause these controversies? A quote I do agree with is Mohandas K. Gandhi’s, “A friendly study of the world's religions is a sacred duty.”

I invite you and your students to begin explorations on the essential questions: What is religion? What does religious practice mean to different people?

"Taking a Closer Look at Religions Around the World" and the two accompanying handouts—Discovering Similarities Between Religions and Collaborating to Resolve Religious Issues — provide some engaging classroom activities and projects to assist you in the class.

Additionally, if you are considering or planning to start a world religions curriculum at your school, I recommend reading these “10 Tips for Starting a World Religions Curriculum.” 

I would love to hear how these activities/projects work and your experiences with teaching tolerance and respect for all religions in your classes.


I agree fully with

Submitted by Khin Aye Than on 26 March 2014 - 3:09pm.

I agree fully with understanding of diifferent religions....it makes us more sensitive to respecting the values and beliefs of others and accepting differences in approaches....I was raised in a multicultural environment....a Muslim from a traditional home but encouraging women's education and was enlightened enough to send me to oneof the best schools run by Methodist missionaries while living in a Buddhist environment.

I have incorporated these different religious philosophies into my life and could get into serious discussions with different religions without offending anyone (so far ).It involves self respect and respecting others' beliefs and views and their right to them....problems start when you ridicule or put down other people's beliefs. I have always loved the saying and tried to live according to "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" which I learnt at the Metbodist English High School, where I also learned the LORD's PRAYER.