“Taking a Closer Look at Religions Around the World” offers a starting point for exploring religions and faith traditions, creating an ongoing respectful dialogue about religious tolerance. By understanding where and how varying faiths began and developed, it’s possible to better comprehend the reasons behind divergent national and international origins in religion. Building knowledge and comprehension of context can assist our compassion and consideration for other people and faiths.
Faith and religious traditions are often a significant part of a person’s identity. Understanding religious beliefs other than one’s own is a key element of tolerance. In the United States, religious diversity has long been part of our culture. However, religion is sometimes a cause of political debate, as may happen when a faith’s practices encounter American laws. For example, people who are Jehovah’s Witnesses are not permitted to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as it violates elements of their belief system. Religious beliefs also may become an issue when citizens express concern about buildings for less-familiar faiths being planned in their community. (Examples of that, involving the construction of mosques, occurred in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Murfreesboro, Tennessee.) Such incidents spark debate and conversation about religious freedom and tolerance. Freedom of religion is protected by First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
This lesson asks students to think about how school districts can address the needs of increasingly diverse populations. It takes as its starting point a debate in New York City’s public schools.
In the United States, different types of religious clothing exist just about everywhere. In this lesson, students will explore how articles of clothing are linked to different religions. First they will research issues around some common articles of religious clothing, such as the hijab and the yarmulke. Then they will explore misconceptions and stereotypes associated with those articles of clothing.
This lesson is part of a series called “The Rich Tapestry of Religion in the United States.” The overall goals of the series are to help students explore the similarities and differences among different religious beliefs and practices, learn that there is no one “right” belief system, identify the positive and negative implications of living in a country with religious diversity and freedom, and consider their own responses to those who believe differently than they do.
In this second lesson, students will learn similarities and differences among the major religions in the United States.
Each year in my art room, I introduce a unit of study focused on the art and culture of another country or region. This year I decided to focus on Islamic art and culture. Since I provide art instruction to approximately 500 students in my little corner of the world, I thought this focus would be an opportunity to help build a bridge between Muslim students and non-Muslim students and begin a dialogue about Islam.
Teaching Tolerance offers an extended classroom discussion with Internet resources. As a follow-up to National Youth Violence Prevention Week or an activity for Malcolm X's birthday (May 19), the activity focuses on Malcolm X and the role of non-violence and self-defense in the Civil Rights Movement.
This lesson explores, confronts and seeks to deconstruct stereotypes and fears targeted at Muslims. In small groups, students will analyze myths and misconceptions about Muslims. They will also understand the meaning of Islamophobia and its effects on Muslims, watch a video to understand the impact of Islamophobia and create an anti-Islamophobia campaign to display in school.
This activity will help students identify similarities and differences between the U.S. Muslim population and the entire U.S. population. It will also help dispel common stereotypes about Islam.