The links on this page are to teachers’ guides prepared by the First Amendment Center, the American Academy of Religion, and the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as the religious studies companion document to the National Council for the Social Studies’ C3 framework for state social studies standards.
One may disagree with specific points in these documents — we disagree strongly, for example, when the AAR Guidelines discourage student site visits to houses of worship and conversations with religious leaders — but they are essential starting-points for any K-12 teacher working to enrich their teaching on religious diversity. If you have time for just one or two of the resources available on our site, we strongly suggest you start with these.
First Amendment Center’s Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools
Millions of parents from diverse religious backgrounds entrust the education of their children to our nation’s public schools. For this reason, teachers need to be fully informed about the constitutional and educational principles governing the role of religion in public schools. This concise guide offers teachers a vision of religious liberty in public education based on First Amendment principles. The First Amendment Center (and its successor organization the Religious Freedom Center) has been a leading voice on these issues since 1994. Its teachers guide is essential reading for all American public school teachers.
American Academy of Religion's Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K-12 Public Schools in the United States
This practical guide for K-12 teachers was prepared by the leading scholarly association for the academic study of religion. It introduces a range of approaches to teaching about religion, including historical, literary, traditions-based, and cultural studies. Above all, it encourages all teachers to convey three central premises of academic religious studies: religions are internally diverse, historically dynamic, and embedded in sociocultural systems. These core principles will help teachers develop academically and constitutionally sound approaches for teaching about religion in K-12 public and private schools.
Society of Biblical Literature's Guide to Bible Electives in Public Schools
This practical guide for K-12 teachers was prepared the leading scholarly association for academic biblical studies. Based around a series of frequently asked questions, it clarifies key distinctions between academic and devotional approaches to Bible, introduces the learning goals of secular, academic biblical studies, and helps teachers engage with the academic, social, and legal issues surrounding the study of the Bible in American public schools. Also see these resources on the SBL website for further discussion of these issues.
National Council for the Social Studies Religious Studies Companion Document for the C3 Framework
This document reaffirms the longstanding position of the NCSS that study about religions should be an essential part of the social studies curriculum, in ways that are constitutionally and academically sound. It emphasizes that knowledge about religions is not only a characteristic of an educated person, but is necessary for effective citizenship in a diverse nation and interconnected world. It recommends that state departments of education work to ensure inclusion of study about religions in all social studies programs. Also click here for more information about the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards, and the full text of the C3 framework.