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National Summit on Religion and Education White Paper Now Available

In the 2014 position statement, Study about Religions in the Social Studies Curriculum, National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) affirmed that study about religions is an essential part of the social studies curriculum. 

On September 27, 2019, experts from various disciplines gathered at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., for a National Summit on Religion and Education, to discuss the past, present, and future of K-12 religious studies education in the United States. This summit was organized by the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute, and was co-hosted by the American Academy of Religion, NCSS, and Boston College's Lynch School of Education and Human Development.

During the summit, attendees identified eight major action items to improve religious studies education in the United States. These action items, along with a list of summit participants and signatories, can be found in the white paper included below.

"NCSS has a longstanding commitment to teaching about religion in PK-12 schools. The study of religion is an essential part of the social studies curriculum. Teaching about religion is critical for decreasing religious illiteracy and countering ignorance, fear, hatred and violence. Religious literacy matters because peaceful co-existence and religious freedom matter in a pluralistic, democratic society. We applaud the efforts of numerous organizations, including our summit partners, in proposing clear actions to strengthen religious studies programs throughout PK-12 instruction. Together we seek to not only understand the state of religious studies in education but also to offer strategic direction for how educators can more effectively teach about religion and what might we do to elevate religious studies in American public schools," said NCSS President Tina L. Heafner. Dr. Heafner presented opening remarks at the summit.

"NCSS is proud to support the summit and build upon our recent inclusion of religious studies within the College, Career, and Civic Life ("C3") Framework for Social Studies State Standards, and through the introduction of a Religious Studies Community. We encourage all education agencies and organizations to consider this white paper's recommendations and review the quality and strength of religious studies within their own K-12 professional development and instructional programs," said NCSS Executive Director Lawrence M. Paska.

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