The Parliament Blog

Teaching Children Religious Diversity: A Dilemma?

Image of Eboo Patel’s new book, Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America. Photo from Kirkus Reviews website.

by Eboo Patel
from USA Today

The first time I heard my 3-year-old son say the Lord’s Prayer, I felt like a fraud. We are, after all, Muslim.

When I speak before audiences, one of the most frequent questions I get as the founder of an interfaith youth group is, “How young is too young for children to engage with kids from other religions?”

My answer is to tell the story of how babies are delivered in an American hospital. I imagine an institution founded by Jewish philanthropists, with a Muslim doctor presiding over delivery while a Hindu anesthesiologist administers the epidural and a Catholic nurse helps the mother.

My point is that in this era, the question of age when it comes to engaging religious diversity is moot. We are literally born into a condition of interfaith interaction. Our children will be raised in an environment of religious diversity — from a Mormon presidential hopeful, to Olympic athletes competing in Islamic head scarfs, to the images of a Wisconsin Sikh community mourning after a terrible attack.

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The views expressed in the Parliament Blog may not necessarily reflect the official position of CPWR, its officers or Board of Trustees