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Opinion: It is time for Religion courses to Go?

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Opinion: It is time for Religion courses to Go?

Rylee Kirk, Advertising Manager

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Like most universities, Mercer University requires students to take a religion course. However, the selection of courses at Mercer are miniscule and seem to be less diverse than most other course catalogs.

Mercer offers six classes to fulfill the required religion section; English 225, Philosophy 240, Religion 110, 130, 150, 170. Only one of these course descriptions, English 225, does not state that the course focuses on Christianity or the roots of Christianity.

At a university that is rated “above average” for diversity by collegefactual.com, should we not have more diverse religion courses?

The University of Georgia offers “Any courses taught from or cross-listed with Art History (ARHI), Religion (RELI), ARTS or Philosophy (PHIL)” according to the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences website. In addition to these classes there are 97 other classes that are eligible to fulfil this requirement.

These classes include interesting and diverse topics such as “Dance History,” and “African Cinema.” However the University of Georgia is not only a state school, but is bigger than Mercer, and therefore able to offer more classes.

A private, smaller school such as Brenau University has more in common with Mercer. Brenau actually does not require a religion course at all. Middle Georgia State University, a college very close to Mercer does not require religion classes either. Even Wesleyan College, a private Methodist-affiliated women’s college does not require a religion course.

Is it time for Mercer to drift away from required religion classes? Most students complain and gripe about their classes, and personally I’ve never encountered anyone excited to attend their religion course.

Mercer also needs to step away from the concentration on Christianity. Every course seems to touch on Judaism, mainly due to the commonality of the Old Testament and Abraham with Christianity. “Why Religion Matters” looks at the start of all religions in the world, but still focuses on Judaism and Christianity very heavily. There are several classes that focus just on Christianity.

At the beginning of July 2016, the department changed from Christianity to Religion. However there are still only five courses not primarily focused on Christianity. The Mercer “Religion” department still seems to be a “Christianity” department. Why isn’t there a class concentrated on Hinduism? There is plenty to read and analyze from the Vedas and Upanishads.

How crucial is a religion course? Most students won’t need to know about Abraham or Moses. When will I ever be grateful for having read the Old Testament? Perhaps a course on dealing with cultural differences, or better living would better help students more. I would rather learn about wellness, healthy eating, cooking or general life skills than be studying religious texts.

Tradition is a big part of life at Mercer. Mercer started as a Baptist school and still holds onto some old Baptist traditions. With changing times and changing students, it is time to rewrite this Mercer tradition.

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Opinion: It is time for Religion courses to Go?”

  1. Byron on October 2nd, 2017 3:11 pm

    As an Atheist I believe there is value in the study of ancient religious texts. At the very least careful study will lead to the realization that none, including the bible were ever meant to be interpreted as literal truth.

  2. mildlyunconcernedNATSwreck on October 2nd, 2017 10:40 pm

    If a religion course of this nature surprises you at a university whose About Us page reads “affirming values that arise from a Judeo-Christian understanding of the world,” then maybe you should reconsider your choice of school.

  3. Paul on October 3rd, 2017 1:30 pm

    Jesse Mercer was a Christian. What do you expect?

  4. Sam Rodriguez on October 3rd, 2017 6:48 pm

    Personally, as a non religious individual, I believe the study of religion is essential, especially in a society where religion is so heavily practiced and valued. Religion is the foundation for multiple diverse demographics across the world and at times the only barrier between one religion from the other is misinterpretations and being unaware or uneducated. A world religions course is also not specifically compiled of Christianity and what it entails but it also has a major focus on Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and many more religions we often misjudge or misinterpret. Although the practices and values of one religion may not resonate with what we deem valuable, it provides us with an understanding of others and dissipates the fears or stigmas associated with different religions.

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