Reasons you should take a Religion class

Top 5 Reasons why you should take a class about World Religions in a public college or university

1. I'm curious about the world outside of my own local experiences.

Good! This class can be a great place to start. We will probably explore religious communities with whom you've never come into contact, and shed some light on other religious communities that you were already a little familiar with but could not place in an historical context before taking this class. Welcome to a larger world beyond the cocoon of your adolescence. It only gets more interesting from here!

2. As an up and coming professional, I'd like to be more informed about other people's religions and religious needs.

I've had students who went on to become nurses, teachers, and business people, who were able to better function with a wider scope of people because they felt they had a better handle on the religious differences of their patients, students, and clients. Think about it: if you work at a hospital and your patient asks for a kosher meal, wouldn't you like to be the nurse that could help that individual? Do you know which of your employees will want Christmas off and which will work on Sundays? Do you know which clients will not want to make lunch plans during Ramadan or Yom Kippur? Your competitors will!

3. I'd like to know more about what makes the world tick. Why are things the way they are now with religion?

In my course, we go to great pains to place the evolution of groups and ideas concerning religion in their historical and sociological context. You'll see why Northern Europeans became Protestants. You'll see how things got so ugly in the Middle East. You'll see how the very concept of religion was created and how it changed to suit the needs of modern religious communities. In the end, I have no doubt you'll leave the class better informed about the world. And perhaps, a little more able to help fix it.

4. I'd like to know more about my own religious background from non–sectarian/theological sources. 

This is one of the great strengths of the academic study of religion. Because scholars don't "take sides," you can generally get a more nuanced and less biased view from them as they aren't interested in converting you into or out of any particular religion. While some can be threated by the prospect of non–theologically–based scholarship, others have found it very freeing. You have to determine for yourself if such a project is something you wish to pursue. Some of my best students have gone on to join the ministry while others are self–avowed Atheists. I have taught students from every major religious tradition and with no religion whatsoever. In my classroom, it makes no difference who you are or what you believe—so long as you keep your questions and comments descriptive (rather than prescriptive) and on topic.

5. I don't have a religious background, and would like to know more about religion from non–theological sources.

See #4.