Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism
The Dos
The Don'ts
1. As the teacher, do abide by the
First Amendment's requirement
that you
be neutral in statement
and conduct regarding whatever
religious or nonreligious ways of
understanding the world that
youngsters in your class may hold
arising out of their home
environment and upbringing.

2. Do live up to your moral and
intellectual obligation to
be fair
and unbiased
in your handling of
the varied worldviews, be they
nonreligious or religious.

3. In teaching about religions and
belief systems, Do teach your
students the
academic way of
movements and venerated texts
(while conceding that the varied
nonreligious and religious
pathways of human understanding
may yield interpretations at

4. When you make curricular and
instructional decisions, Do live up
to the
ideals of a liberal
, acknowledging the
existence and place of human
belief systems within the important
cultural developments and
movements of human history, and
recognizing worldviews stances
that underlie conduct of major
players (the nonreligious notables
as well as the diverse religious

5. Do
show sensitivity to children
who come from unfamiliar or
unpopular religious traditions and
also to those who recognize no
religion or disavow religious faith,
using your position as the teacher
to assure that your classroom
environment supports
liberty of
for all children.

6. When dealing with any
important matter of controversy,
Do live up to your obligation to be

equitable and just
in your
treatment of the holders of these
perspectives, be they nonreligious
or religious.

7. Do, for highly controversial
matters, seek the institution and
support of legal school policies,
so that you can establish within
your own classroom a justifiable
excusal policy that makes clear
how and when youngsters may be
exempted from lessons (informing
parents of the general course of

8. Do recognize that, with respect
to matters of ultimate belief and
faith adherence, each student is in
a process of cognitive and
emotional development, and that it
is presumptuous to attribute to a
child a worldview congruence with
that of his/her parents.
1. Within your classroom, do not
permit actions or statements (e.g.,
ostracism, ridicule, or disrespect
by teacher or peer) that erode the
liberty of conscience or undermine
the social circumstance of any
youngster on account of the
individual's profession of religious
or nonreligious belief (or
associated attire or customs).

2. Do not treat your own worldview
as "official" in statements or
actions, or stereotype or
disparage religious or
nonreligious worldviews not your

3. Do not abdicate your
educational responsibility to teach
your discipline (e.g., history,
science) in an
sound secular manner
advocacy (e.g., from students,
parents, or administrators) that
you dilute or avoid subject matter
that is at odds with their religious
or nonreligious beliefs but which
rightfully belongs in a thorough
academic program.

4. Do not select curricular
materials based on, or advocate
or seek students' acceptance of,
your own worldview (whether
religious or nonreligious) or
any given worldview (or
associated texts, customs and
traditions) as being more or less
praiseworthy than another.

5. In your classroom, do not direct
or engage students in costuming
themselves in religious attire, in
assuming religious names, or in
role-playing any of the worship
activities or other conduct
associated with following a
particular worldview tradition.

6. Do not in any way (direct or
indirect) seek or require student
agreement with you on worldview
beliefs (religious or nonreligious),
or make any child feel an outsider
in the classroom learning
environment that you provide.

7. Do not involve youngsters in
discussing or evaluating matters
that are beyond their level of
maturity and/or their cognitive
ability to confront.

8. Do not label youngsters by their
parental affiliation (e.g., "Mormon
child"); instead, use referents that
acknowledge the individuality and
nascent belief status of the
maturing youngster (e.g., Sylvia
has Catholic parents" or "Raheel
is from a Muslim family").
Dos & Don'ts

Worldview Education Guidelines
For Classroom Teachers in Public Schools

Use this chart to for guidance in thinking through the "big picture" of teaching
about religion with a view to diversity. The guidelines here encourage
objectivity, accuracy, and balance in keeping with the inclusive mission of
this web resource.
[August, 2004] Corrections and comments invited.