Religious Education

    The pattern of studies designed in educational institutions includes the aspect of religious education also. Institutions are required to provide religious knowledge to the children to open their minds. But there is a difference between religious education and religious instruction. Religious education talks about providing basic knowledge to the students regarding various religions whereas religious instruction means feeding the children with information that has no value and it also led to hatred in their minds regarding other religions.

    Article 28(1) of the Indian constitution says that ‘No religious instruction shall be provided in any educational institution wholly maintained out of State funds.’ In other words, it says that it is banned to provide any kind of religious instruction to children in educational institutions.

    In the case of Ms. Aruna Roy & Others v. Union of India, it was held by the apex court that religious education based on religious exclusivism is barred. Educational institutions are restricted to provide any such knowledge to children which could create a sense of hatred amongst them. The court observed that religious instruction/study is capable of molding value-based education. The same shall be settled through a multi-cultural method by allowing parents to choose what is best suited to their children.

    From the perspective of ethics and democracy, it should be identified which are the relevant and irrelevant materials in imparting religious knowledge among children. In truth, the US constitution and Supreme Court have clearly stated that mere inclusion of religion as a subject in the public-school curriculum does not offend constitutional principles.

    The famous case of Abington school district v. Schempp talks about religious education in educational institutions. In this case, one student Schempp filed suit against the Abington school to prohibit the enforcement of a Pennsylvania state law that required children to hear and sometimes read portions of the Bible as part of their public-school education. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District could hold this practice of the school unconstitutional as per the establishment clause of the first amendment.

    The first amendment of the American constitution suggested an impartial position towards any religion and what the school is doing is invalid according to this amendment. Thus, this case was struck down because of its aggressive pedagogy which made Schempp, and his parents feel compelled.

    Therefore, the religious court ruling in the subsequent trial, in striking down the practices and the law requiring them, made specific findings of fact that the students’ attendance at Abington Senior High School was enforced and that the practice of reading ten verses for the Bible was also compelled by law. Also, being forced to listen to the other students’ Bible reading “every day” would be very stressful if a student is not a Catholic and Christian. Moreover, the US First Amendment clearly specifies neutrality, which means neither aiding nor opposing religion, so the school should not go too far.

    Thus, religious education should be imparted to children and not the religious instruction which creates a sense of hatred amongst them.

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