Should Religion be Taught in Public Schools?

Erik Ford
6 min readOct 15, 2020
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The debate over the question, should religion be taught in public schools, is a very contentious topic. There are many perspectives on the situation and no apparent clear path forward. Some would argue that religion should flat out be banned in schools as it has no place in an enlightened, liberal, pluralistic, democratic, modern society. People on the opposite side of the argument would argue that religion plays a significant part in the lives of many people and this is important for students to be aware of the many faiths represented domestically and globally. The fear of teaching about religion in school is the indoctrination of students through religious education programmes offered by the school. Some believe that religious fundamentalism must be countered but at the same time, also promoting religious freedom, tolerance, non-discrimination, mutual respect and understanding, and peace (Jawoniyi, 2012).

In discussing whether or not religion should be included in public schools, it should be noted what the global and domestic religious population is. These numbers will give an insight into why religion in public schools, notably because of the vast amount of people affiliated with a faith. According to the Pew Research Center (“The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010–2050”, 2015), the world religious population in 2010, was estimated to be at 6,895,850,000 and those that did not affiliate with any religion was estimated to be at 1.1 billion or 16% of the global population.

In Australia, the number of students with a religious affiliation is on the decline. Religious affiliation decline has been a growing trend over since 2006. According to a report by the Independent Schools Council of Australia (“The Changing Face of Australian Schooling”, 2018), religious disaffiliation is on the rise with 37% of students reporting that they are not affiliated with any religion; however, that still means that majority of students are affiliated with a faith.

Under the Education Act 1990, it is mandatory for time to be allocated towards religious education for children of any religious faith (“About religion and ethics | Curriculum”, 2019). If students are nominated as being secular, there is an alternative to religious education called “special education in ethics”. Religious…

Erik Ford

Post-graduate student at the University of Sydney, enrolled in the Master of Teaching (Primary) Program. I was previously an undergraduate at UWS enrolled in IR