A contemporary study of the world’s religions should help students understand certain aspects of human nature. After all, by the time a student is finished with a college course in comparative religion, the following should have been covered thoroughly: the different types of existing religions and how various religious practices at the individual and group level shape religious identity; how various religions and faiths address and respond to social and ethical issues; interfaith and inter-religious dialogue and the forming of relationships among people with diverse religious backgrounds.
A college course in comparative religion will deal with the following topics:
- Introduction to religion and the study of religion
- Overview of important facts, concepts, and theories pertaining to religion
- Origin of the world's religions
- Basic tenets of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and others.
- World’s religions and contemporary ethical issues
- Social issues and how they affect religious practices and beliefs (i.e. death penalty, abortion, etc.)
- Impact of 9/11
- Future of the world’s religions
A good course in comparative religion should leave students with an understanding of the relationship between religions, the ability to recognize, accept, and appreciate the various ways in which people express their faith and religious beliefs, an awareness of the role religion plays in every area of human life, and the prospects for building interfaith and inter-religious relationships.
Students interested in comparative religion should thoroughly explore the particular websites of the world’s religions. In addition, it would be worth visiting the World Council of Churches, The World Council of Religious Leaders, and the American Academy of Religion.
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