Religion And Culture
In The United States
Significant number of people hold religious beliefs
– 190 million claim religious affiliation
 Beliefs vary
– Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, etc…..
 1963: Law passed forbidding prayer in school
– Separation of church and state
 Education system still affected by religion
The Diversity of Religion has Significance:
A communities religious beliefs influence
expectations of school curriculum
– South- S. Baptists, Church of Christ, Methodists
 face criticism on sex education, evolution, alternate lifestyles
– Utah- Mormons
 Religion isn’t taught
 Holidays for religious services are granted
 Elected officials are Mormon so laws have Mormon influence
– Inner City East Coast- Religions vary
 Little impact on school
Religion As A Way Of Life
Religious beliefs play a very important role
May govern a persons
way of life
Affect decisions and
Answers to problems
By age of five, a child
knows their religious
By age 9, a child knows
their religious practices
and customs
Religious Pluralism In The US
 Numerous religious groups in US
 Members of all religions play important roles in
 Discrimination against some religions
 Goal: acceptance of each religion
Jewish synagogues:
targets of hate crimes
 Protestants make up 59% of the population
 Diverse group: Methodist, Church of Christ,
Baptist, Orthodox Presbyterian, on and on
 Two very broad categories of Protestants
1. Liberal
2. Conservative
 Adapt religion to correspond
to modern world (science)
 Rights of individual to
determine religious beliefs
 Support social action
– Believe environment affects
a person’s life and is hard to
 Includes: United Church of
Christ, Episcopalian, some
Methodist, Disciples of Christ
 Bible is the truth
 Jesus will return in bodily
 Personal morality (not social
 Include: Church of Christ,
Southern Baptist, Assembly
of God
 Subgroup: Fundamentalist
who are literal and inflexible
in their religious beliefs
 Uniform doctrine and pattern of worship
– Not a pluralistic denomination
– Diocese may be liberal or conservative
 Forms of Catholicism: Roman Catholic and
new American Catholic that recognizes the
strength of the US environment
 US Catholic church is wealthiest catholic
church in world
 Private educational system-largest
Oldest religion known to man
Basis of Catholicism and Protestantism
2% of the population
Jewish people impacted our world greatly:
science, medicine, business, politics
 Targets of hate, prejudice, & discrimination
 Holidays: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur,
Passover, Hanukkah
Jewish religious symbols: Star of David, and
nine-branched menorah used to celebrate
Hanukkah. The seven-branch menorah used
in the temple. Menorah is the oldest symbol
of the Jewish faith
 Islam means surrender to the will to God
 This is one of the worlds major religions
– In US 5 million followers
 Based on Qur’an: word of Prophet Muhammad
 Two main groups of Muslims fighting over power
– Sunni
– Shi’ite Muslims
 People who are Islamic are called Muslims
 The majority of Muslims are immigrants who brought their
religion from their home countries.
 Black Muslims originated in US
– Well known leader Louis Farrakhan
Islamic houses of worship are called
 Major world religion:
– 780,000 followers in US
– Diversity in belief & practice due to geographical origin
 Views:
– Negativity towards ordinary existence
– Ordinary existence=suffering
– Buddha provides way to escape ordinary existence
 Believe and worship Buddha who reached
Buddhist Symbols
Buddhist temple
Other Groups
 Other religions include:
– Eastern Orthodox – 4 M in US
– The Christian Scientist – less than ½ M
– Unitarian Universalists
– American Indians – 314 tribes so religions vary
– Jainism – estimated 4000 in N. America
– Sikhism – estimated 9000 in N. America
– Baha’ism – 300,000 in US
– And The New Age
 Term cult associated with brainwashing and
 Such cults are:
– People’s Temple- Jim Jones
– Branch Davidians- David Koresh
– Heaven’s Gate- Marshall Applewhite
Religion And Gender
 Women’s roles rarely recognized
– Catholic religion, no female priest
– Mormons, unable to obtain priesthood
– Other major religions, not willing to ordain women ministers
 Church views supported by Bible
– Women suppose to relinquish themselves to their husbands
 Some groups more liberal in interpretations
– Believe Adam and Eve were given equal domain
 Religious expectations can carry over into life
– No control in religion, no control at home
Religion and Homosexuality
 Views based on interpretation of religious material
– Bible is not clear
– Bible is perfectly clear
– Can result in prejudice, discrimination, or attacks
 Conservative Christians
– Choice
– Sin
– Aids is punishment
Born homosexual
Only choice is to practice
 Views of religious leaders impact views of members.
 Goal: Respect all members of society regardless of
Religion and Race
 Religious views impact views about race
– biblical justification of slavery
– Antisemitic views
 African American churches served as pulpit for
civil rights movement
 Segregation has been minimized as official
– Segregation is now a choice
 Society reflection of religious issues
– Issues of race linger just as issues of gender
Where Do Our Beliefs Come From?
 Related to educational level
– Higher the education
 Greater reliance on scientific data
 less literal belief of Bible
 Related to class
– Lower income level
 more literal in belief of Bible
 Didn’t rely on science
 Parents
 Ties to ethnic identity
– Irish Catholic, Norwegian Lutheran
 Area in which one lives
– Community could have diverse views (N.Y.) or similar views
The Religious Right
 Religion influences laws
– Protestant morality challenged
 Voice of people with different values
 Roe vs. Wade
 Reinforcement of separation of Church and State
– New Christian Right (Religious Right )
Television ministries
School prayer
Support for “their” political candidates
Putting pressure on schools to uphold conservative values
Educational Implications
 Public school should be free from any one religion
– Religious influence affects decisions
– School prayer-efforts to reinstate
 Schools expected to provide a basis of social morality
– Which values should be taught?
 Private schooling for children of specific religions
– In order to help facilitate, vouchers and tax credits would help pay
for the cost of private schooling.
 Censorship
– Effort to rid school of objectionable material
– New teachers should seek advice to community climate
School Prayer
 In 1962 and 1963 the Supreme Court ruled
that prayer in school should be voluntary.
 In 2003, this debate is still being had
– Movement to put prayer back into the classroom
– Others oppose prayer
 This is a debate that shall continue forever.
Religion can be described many ways and
from many views, but when it comes to
school and religion, we need to remember
that not everyone has the same beliefs.
Teaching tolerance and understanding to
today’s children will help build a united
Power Point
Presentation by:
Jennifer Rockey
Jeanette Collins
Paper by:
Jessica Baker
Crissie Luksa
Activity by:
Renee Hames
Lorie Pimentel
Gollnick, D.M., & Chinn, P.C. (2002).
Multicultural education in a pluralistic society
(6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill
Prentice Hall.