Why Everyone Should Study World Religions

I honestly believe everyone should study world religions from an early age. We should expose young children to as many world religions, mythologies, creation stories, and folk tales as possible. It will be beyond eye-opening for them to watch the similarities unfold. I know it was for me.

From the proclaimed deities and religious figures, to the nearly identical tales being told by different cultures, to the overwhelming sameness of the core principles outlined in the various writings—seeing the connected threads in these “unique” religions definitely provides an enlightening experience.

Side view of an open book with pages turning. Text reads: Why everyone should study world religions.

Why do we believe what we do?

Children believe some religious stories to be true and others to be false because we convince them of such when they are young and trust us implicitly. What a different world we would live in if instead we exposed future generations to myriad mythologies and encouraged young people to draw their own conclusions about their similarities, incompatibilities, and logic.

In our homeschool we aim to present many different tales in a neutral way. My students can appreciate the lessons offered in these stories without bias. We share various approaches to how humans have attempted to understand the mysteries of our world—without implying that any one explanation is “more true” or should hold more “weight” than another. This has allowed them {and me} to both appreciate the journey that has kept these words alive throughout time as well as clearly see the improbability of any of them being 100% correct.

Children believe some religious stories to be true and others to be false because we convince them of such when they are young and trust us implicitly. Click To Tweet

What if you don’t believe what everyone else does?

Not to put too fine a point on it, the Agents do not believe any one religion to be true. Instead, the different beliefs and worldviews folks hold fascinate them from an academic standpoint. They know they can extract insights from these myths; the fact that they are fictional does not diminish their value. They note the connections all faith stories share {lots of “a-ha” moments in our reading when they come across a familiar tale, such as the flood myth}.

I want their life path—wherever it may lead—to be treasured, even if it doesn’t look like the majority. I am grateful they feel comfortable with their own convictions, because I was most definitely not at their age.

Of course, inevitably someone is going to come along and tell them their spiritual place is wrong, incomplete. Mostly this will come from a place of good intentions, but lack of understanding. This is why I feel strongly all children should grow up in a world that believes everyone should study world religions, regardless of their own family and community faith.


How can you follow your own path?

While my children readily embrace their atheistic conclusions as valid, I spent years struggling to acknowledge non-belief as a possibility. This sounds silly when you think about it; I mean, of course it is. But realistically, I grew up in a culture where virtually everyone I knew belonged to some religious stripe or another {mostly Christian/Catholic}. Following the religion of my family was expected and encouraged. The ability to break free was not something I even had on my radar. It took much contemplation and time to internalize this as a worthwhile and legitimate viewpoint.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Sarah

    Yes yes that’s all good – I appreciate the way you show up for your kiddos, but OMG it’s Sulley!!! I came because I saw your pic and everything Disney is life for me. hahaha

    Also you said “not to put too fine a point on it” and suddenly the ‘They Might Be Giants’ song burst into my head. Please tell me you know it, if not, please find them. All school children need they might be giants in their life – and adults too.

    1. Avatar
      Valerie

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Sarah! Agree that Disney is life. We are always counting down to a trip, currently Disneyland, later this month. And we are huge TMBG fans around here. My son, especially, is borderline obsessed. We listen/sing in the car pretty much daily. We still listen to the kid albums sometimes, but now all the kids are fans of the adult stuff, too. When my oldest was about 2 we had the DVDs for ABCs and 123s on basically nonstop. Birdhouse in Your Soul will be in my head for the rest of the day now.

      1. Avatar
        Sarah

        I love it!!! I’ll have to stick around – you seem like good people based on those interests alone 😉

  2. Avatar
    Laura

    I took a World Literature class in college, and most of what we read were religious texts, and it was interesting to see how closely these beliefs and morality tales overlap. So I agree that it’s beneficial to read them all, ask questions, and implement the best parts of them into your daily life.

    1. Valerie
      Valerie

      When we first started our studies I was completely shocked as to how similar some of them actually are–down to just minor differences in the names or very tiny details changed. I never studied this growing up, so I am learning it all from scratch along with my kids. ❤️

  3. Avatar
    Corinne

    I agree, Valerie. Children should be presented with options and should not be locked into something, religion no exception. You want them to grow up and make educated choices and not decide on something simply because it’s what the “majority” believe.

    1. Valerie
      Valerie

      Yes, it definitely applies to so many things. I wish more people took this approach with all learning.

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