Religious instruction in California’s Modesto City Schools, Hindus commend

Hindus have welcomed teaching of World Religions in Modesto City Schools (MCS) in California and reportedly being the only one in the nation to make it a graduation requirement.

Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that teaching of semester-long religion to ninth grade students in MCS was a “step in the right direction”. Other school districts in the country should follow it.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that opening-up the Modesto pupils to major world religions would make them well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It also made a good business sense to know the beliefs of “others” in a global community. Moreover, students should have knowledge of the entire society to become full participants in the society.

Rajan Zed pointed out that religion was a complex and powerful component of human life, so we must take religion seriously. Moreover, existence of varying faiths was a positive sign of God’s generosity.

Currently, MCS World Religions curriculum examines Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Judaism. Zed suggested that it should also include Baha’ism, Daoism, Confucianism (although it shows a Confucius video), Shinto, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Native American spirituality and non-believers’ viewpoint; and organize field trips to various religious venues in the area.

Its Hinduism curriculum talks about Vedas, reincarnation, Divali, Brahman, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, karma, dharma, mandir, yoga, samsara, moksha, atman, Om, etc., and shows a video on Gandhi.

MCS began teaching World Religions in 2000. According to reports, in the September 29 meeting of its Board of Education, California State Assembly representatives presented MCS with a framed copy of Assembly Concurrent Resolution 154, which celebrated its World Religions course and recommended its state-wide adoption.

MCS, whose history goes back to 1871 and whose tagline is “Communicate, Collaborate, Celebrate”, has about 30,000 students in its 34 institutions. It emphasizes a District-wide Character Education program which highlights nine character traits. Cindy Marks, Amy Elliott Neumann and Pam Able are its Board President, Board Vice President and Superintendent respectively.

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