Is it possible to understand and appreciate other cultures without knowing something about their religion? Does teaching about religion in public schools violate the principle of the separation of church and state? Can learning about other religions weaken a student’s commitment to his own religion? These are just a few of the questions addressed by the authors of the essays contained in Religion in Multicultural Education.
Editors Farideh Salili and Rumjahn Hoosain hope to encourage open discussion of religious pluralism as an important part of multicultural education. The essays in this book make an important contribution to that discussion by approaching the subject from a variety of national and religious viewpoints. The topics covered include the Islamic philosophy of education, religious diversity in Western Canadian education, and the relationship between Buddhism and multicultural education in Thailand. Essays dealing with the American context are mostly critical of what the authors view as the dominance of Christianity in American culture, the marginalization of non-Christian religions, and even “Christian privilege,” which is seen to go hand-in-hand with white supremacy. Although most Christians would disagree with their analysis, authors César Rossatto and Elaine Hampton are especially critical of what they perceive as the tendency of conservative Christians to promote fear of views different from their own, and therefore remain separated as much as possible. On a more positive note, an essay titled “Blessed Communion” focuses on the need for cultural competence among theology students and outlines a process for developing this competence.
While much of the book presents the subject of religion in multicultural education from a non-Christian, and sometimes anti-Christian, point of view, it is a valuable resource for members of the Regent community hoping to increase their understanding of the issues involved, and to some extent change the practices that have often brought criticism.