Several valuable and informative resources are available to help one become more religiously literate. Below is an ongoing accumulation of the best resources I have found for educators and the general public.
Free and for the general public:
In-person workshops and seminars:
I also encourage you to search for emerging religious literacy programs for educators in your local communities (such as the one coordinated by Chris Murray in Maryland in June 2016).
- California 3Rs project
- The Newseum Institute’s Religious Freedom Center
- TrueTube, videos that showcase the diversity within and across beliefs visually
- Faith Ed.: Teaching about religion in an age of intolerance (Wertheimer, 2015) is a rich resource that discusses how religion and religious identities have been received in American public schools. It shares experiences of teachers across the US, presents case studies to help teachers understand what to expect and how to respond, and offers a teacher’s guide for professional development.
- Religious literacy: What every American needs to know and doesn’t (Prothero, 2008) discusses the state of religious literacy in America and why it is important to teach students religious literacy today. The book includes an 84-page dictionary that offers glossary-like descriptions of various religious beliefs, individuals, sects, etc.
In addition to these resources, I have compiled a document titled “Tips for creating a religiously inclusive classroom” that can be downloaded here. The tips include:
- Schwartz and Pollishuke’s (2013) tips for teachers, from Creating the Dynamic Classroom: A handbook for teachers, Second Edition;
- Five different approaches to teaching religious literacy from various resources by Robert Jackson and Diane L. Moore;
- How to respond to conflict, with four recommendations from Steve Wessler; and
- Five tips for educators from Khyati Joshi from her article Because I had a Turban (2007). These tips are listed below for quick reference.
- Know your own students. There are a lot of religions in the world. Start with the ones present in your classroom.
- Learn our ABCDs. We don’t need to be theologians, but we can at least learn the:
a. Architecture: Know what the house of worship is called, like mandir (Hindu), masjid or mosque (Muslim), and gurdwara (Sikh).
b. Books: Know the name(s) of the religion’s holy text(s).
c. Cities: Know the names and locations of the religion’s holiest cities, like Amritsar (Sikhism), Mecca and Medina (Islam), and Varanasi/Benares (Hinduism).
d. Days: Know the names and meanings of the religion’s major holidays, like Diwali and Holi (Hinduism), Ramadan and Eid ul’ Fitr (Islam), and Vaisaki (Sikhism).
- Recognize religion as part of students’ social identities. Understand how this makes religion especially salient for some students, and how the family’s religion may be important even to students who don’t see themselves as “religious.”
- Avoid the urge to “Christianize” religions and holidays. e.g., saying “Ramadan is like Lent” or “Janmastami is like Christmas.”
- Include religion in our curricula whenever it’s appropriate. Discuss how different religions deal with the concept at hand.