Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K-12 Schools in the United States

American Academy of Religion

In 2010, the American Academy of Religion (AAR) published Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K-12 Public Schools in the United States to emphasize the importance of using a religious-studies approach to teaching about religion.

The guidelines are based on the following three premises: First, there exists a widespread illiteracy about religion in the United States; second, religious illiteracy often fuels prejudice and antagonism, thereby hindering efforts aimed at promoting respect for diversity, peaceful coexistence, and cooperative endeavors in local, national and global arenas; and third, it is possible to diminish religious illiteracy by teaching about religion from a non-devotional perspective in primary, middle, and secondary schools.

Professor Diane L. Moore, who chaired the AAR’s task fort that created these guidelines is the also the director of the Harvard Religious Literacy Project. Dr. Moore further explains that teaching about religion needs to convey three central premises of academic learning about religion:

1. Religions are internally diverse as opposed to uniform;

2. Religions are dynamic and evolve and change over time as opposed to being ahistorical and static;

3. Religious influences are embedded in all dimensions of culture — as opposed to the assumption that religions function in discrete, isolated, “private” contexts.