World Religions

 Introduction | Task | Resources | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion

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Religious Freedom - A Basic Right For All Humans

“I want you to really think about it - you think about what Kosovo was all about. People were taught to hate people who were from a different ethnic group than they were or who worshipped God in a different way. They started out by being afraid of them and misunderstanding them. Then, they came to hate them. And after hating them for a good while, they came to dehumanize them.

Once you decide that someone you’re looking at is no longer a human being, it’s not so hard to justify killing them, or burning them out of house and home, or torturing their children, or doing all the other things you have heard. It all starts with the inability to recognize the inherent dignity and equality of someone who is different from ourselves.”

President Clinton - June, 1999


Thousands upon thousands of thousands of Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, and other groups of believers have been killed because they did not pray the way others prayed, because of  their views about life and death, because of their holy celebrations.  Why?  Even as you are reading this text, someone somewhere is being killed because of their religious belief.

Why do you think the Chinese people who came to America in the early part of this century were hated?  Why was there so much prejudice against the boy and his father in the novel Dragonwings by Lawrence Yep?  Is it because they looked different or was it for other reasons?


“The American ideal is not that we all agree with each other, or even like each other, every minute of the day. It is rather that we will respect each other’s rights, especially the right to be different...”

Arthur J. Koop, former U.S. Surgeon General 

“To simply be tolerant doesn’t feel too good. People should have a deep sense of appreciation of people different from them.”

David Odell-Scott, associate professor of philosophy at Kent State University.


The hate and the killing must be stopped.  We must come together and talk to each other about our customs, our beliefs, and our celebrations.  We must listen to one another in order to:

   *   Appreciate the diversity that other religious groups contribute to society.

   *   Understand the similarities and differences between other religions and our own.

   *   Learn about the religious beliefs and practices of others.

   *   Recognize the various contributions made to society by different religious groups.

   *   Recognize each religion’s existence as part of the religious mosaic of the world.

   *   Allow  people of all religions equal rights


As a representative of a recognized and highly regarded institution of learning, you have been selected to participate in a World Peace Conference.  Historians, anthropologists, theologians, politicians, journalists, and other great minds from the world’s major religions will come together.  We shall meet and discuss how we are different, and more importantly, how we are alike.  We shall discover our common connections in customs, celebrations, and religious beliefs. 

It is a great honor to have your help in this quest

 for World Peace and Religious Freedom.

This study will focus on the following World Religions:

v    Buddhism

v    Hinduism

v    Judaism

v    Christianity

v    Islam

v    Chinese Philosophies of Taoism and Confucianism

Global questions will lead to reflection about how each religion and belief system can help us attain world peace.

Ø     What are the beliefs in each religion which could help us move towards a lasting world peace?

Ø     What does this religion have in common with other religions?

Ø      How can people of all faiths move towards tolerance and appreciation of one another’s religious beliefs?

Research will lead to building knowledge as we answer the following questions;

1.  Where did the religion begin and how did it spread?

2.  Who started the religion and how did it grow?

3.  How do believers worship and celebrate?

4.  How does the practice of the religion affect the daily life of the believer? 

5.  What is happening today in the places that each religion is being practiced?

6.  What are the basic beliefs set forth in this religion?


Introduction | Task | Resources | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion


The Task

There will be four tasks to accomplish during this unit.  They are:

*  Daily research  

 Individually and in teams students will use the web sites identified in this Web Quest and other references to answer the major research questions listed above.

*  An on-going World Religions newspaper 

Each class member will be involved in contributing articles to a World Religions newspaper, which will be published by the end of the unit.  The audience for this paper is all students, who are participating in the study of religions.  A broader audience can be reached by placing a copy in the school library.  Students may want to share this newspaper with their families and religious leaders.

*  The design and production of a collage

One collage will be produced for each of the six religions being studied.  As TEAMS conclude their research, each member will design a portion of a collage for their assigned religion.  This portion will consist of words, short paragraphs, pictures and drawings, which capture the essence of their understanding. The thoughts and ideas of each student will become part of the large collage. The collage can be of a predetermined size of burlap.  Once all the sections of each religion, Hindu, for example, are placed together on the burlap the collage can be attached to a dowel to become a banner. This banner can be displayed at the World Peace Conference.

*  A World Peace Conference 

At the conclusion of the unit, a day will be set for a World Peace Conference.  Students will come together in groups to generate ideas in response to the global questions, which have been under consideration during the study of religions.  At the conclusion of the conference, guidelines for religious freedom and world peace will be published and distributed to all conference participants.


Introduction | Task | Resources | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion



v    Buddhism

v     Hinduism

v    Judaism

v    Christianity

v    Islam

v    Taoism & Confucianism

v    General References


Introduction | Task | Resources | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion


The Procedure


Each student will be assigned to two groups for the study of world religions.

First Group - the TEAM

The major responsibility of a TEAM is doing daily research.  TEAMS will consist of five people, each being assigned one of the roles described below. The roles will be assigned by the teacher.  In a class of thirty students there would be six TEAMS. These people are the honored guests invited to the World Peace Conference, which will occur at the end of the unit.

TEAMS will be organized by the teacher.  Students will be notified of the role they will assume.


Student  Roles  - Click on link for job requirements.

Ø      Historian

Ø      Politician

Ø      Theologian 

Ø      Anthropologist

Ø      Journalist


Note on Research

All students will be researching their assigned research question and also the last research question raised, which is, ”What are the basic beliefs of each religion?”

As research progresses, students will be refocusing not only on their main research question, but also raising additional questions based on what they feel a need to know.  They will be making theories, finding new information, reflecting on their understanding, and sharing their ideas with classmates.


Second Group - Job-Alike

You will also become a member of another group.  This is your JOB-ALIKE group. There will be a JOB-ALIKE group for each role. For example, all the historians for all religions will meet together, as will each set of people sharing the same job; all politicians will meet together, etc.  When you know the role which you play,  you will know the JOB-ALIKE group to which you belong. The major focus of this second group will be to hold discussions based on research findings. As a group these researchers will discuss what it is about their religion that is important for the entire class to understand.  They will brainstorm ideas for articles for the World Religion newspaper. Every group member, in groups consisting of historians, theologians, etc., will write articles to be published.



Procedure for the World Peace Conference

During the first stage of the peace conference groups will be formed so that there is at least one representative from each religion.  These groups will generate ideas in response to the global questions, which are restated below:

Ø     What beliefs in each religion might help us move towards a lasting world peace?

Ø     What does this religion have in common with other religions?

Ø     How can people of all faiths move towards tolerance of and appreciation of one another’s religious beliefs?

Next, students will regroup so that the people who studied the same religion are sitting together. All the Buddhists,  for example, will be sitting in a group.  Their collage/banner can be placed now in their area. At this time, the discussion will focus on reporting out the ideas generated in the initial grouping.  The next step is to make a list of statements about world peace. A representative of this group will be chosen to bring the listed statements before the entire assembly.

Now as the class turns its attention to the work of the entire assembly, each religious group will be introduced.  The representatives of the religions will have a given length of time in which to speak . Once they have all spoken, the conference participants will discuss and decide upon 4-6 statements, which the conference will then publish as guidelines for world peace and religious freedom.

Introduction | Task | Resources | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion



v    Collage Rubric


v    Newspaper Rubric



v    Self Evaluation


Introduction | Task | Resources | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion




During this unit we have explored some of the main religions practiced in the world today.  Religions have roots in the past, but at the same time, are living elements in today’s culture.  Hopefully, through their questioning, research and discussions students have come to a point of understanding the rich diversity that, through long centuries, has been woven into the fabric of World Religions.


In Cedar Rapids, Iowa, citizens have spoken out about the need for an appreciation of the diversity present in our city, and their desire for tolerance, with protection of each person’s equal rights.  In response, Mayor Lee Clancey has issued the following proclamation:


City of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Proclamation:


Cedar Rapids is a community of caring people who have created a healthy, safe and secure place for people of all geographic, ethnic, economic, religious, and lifestyle backgrounds to live, work, raise their children and age with dignity; and


hate violence has become a daily occurrence and is increasing at epidemic rates across the nation; and


fundamentally, tolerance is a personal decision that comes from an attitude that is learnable and embraceable - a belief that every person in earth is a treasure, vital to the health and prosperity of all; and


Cedar Rapids is a community promoting tolerance and infusion while focusing on how we interact with our families, our neighbors and coworkers by respecting them and ourselves; and


we, the people of Cedar Rapids, in keeping with the principle of equal civil rights for all, unequivocally oppose any manifestation of hatred and prejudice towards any group or individual in our community;

Now, therefore, I, Lee Clancey, mayor of the city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, so hereby proclaim January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2000, as

"A Year of Diversity Appreciation

and Community Tolerance"

in Cedar Rapids, and we resolve to stand together with all people of good faith in our community and we have the power to change our attitude, to overcome our ignorance and fears, and to influence our children, our peers and our neighborhoods. It begins with "each one of us."

January 1, 2000
Lee R. Clancey, Mayor

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Introduction | Task | Resources | Procedure | Evaluation | Conclusion


 Created by

Myrna Cooney, Becky Martin,  Bill Peters, Joel Rainbow, Karen Wesack, & Les Kapler

Taft Middle School, Cedar Rapids, IA

Alicia Ford, Lyndell Keys, Joel Orleck & Gin Perkins

Meigs Middle School, Nashville, TN

Last updated  April 28, 2000

Questions or comments? contact rmartin@esc.cr.k12.ia.us or jrainbow@esc.k12.ia.us

Based on a template from The Webquest Page.