Those who want to separate religion and education, argue in the following way:
To give place to religion in education is not practicable, because children of all religions come to receive education in schools. In such a situation which religion is to be taught in a school? If one particular religion is taught in the school, the followers of other religions will not accept this position. It will lead to mutual ill-will quarrel and disturbance.
Religion education is generally based on preaching. So long as desired changes are not brought about in the environment and ideal examples are not presented till then good conduct cannot be spread through religious education. Hence mere teaching of religious doctrines in schools will not achieve the goal of education.
Doubts and mental conflicts are created in children as they cannot understand the abstract processes of sin virtue, reward and punishment as explained in religious educational schools.
Religious education emphasizes, religious sermons and religious knowledge. But life is not conducted according to these sermons. Man cannot become virtuous simply by getting knowledge of religion. He becomes virtuous only when he puts the same into practice. This is not done in schools.
It is not possible for the modern teacher to analyze religious knowledge dispassionately because he may be faithful only to one particular religion.
Consequently, the students will be incapable of understanding the true and obscure meaning of religion. It will be better to analyze religion with the help of science but the teachers will not accept it because science may injure the personal beliefs.
In fact, it will be difficult to get able and suitable teachers for religious education. It is a difficult task to correlate education and true human religion. Every teacher may not be capable of this.
We have already observed that religion means human religion through which human qualities should be developed. But history bears testimony to the fact that humanity has been oppressed in the name of religion and in place of love, compassion, sympathy and cooperation, the feelings of enmity, hatred, jealously and opposition have grown. Such examples in the history of religion may create irreligious feelings in children.
Man imbibes ‘religion’ through self-realization. Self- realization is individualistic. Hence inclusion of personal elements in religious conduct is natural. In the school environment, collective and social tendencies are found.
So personal view point of religion cannot be given importance this view point may be suitable to those children who agree with that line of thinking but not to others who follow other view point.
Argument in Favor of Religious Education:
There may be some strength in the above arguments. But this strength will be there only to the extent to which education is imparted on the basis one particular religions without understanding the true meaning of religion. Religion is universal, omnipresent and eternal. It is necessary to present its universal form. The following arguments may be presented in favour of religious education:
1. “All-round development of man is not possible only through physical, mental and intellectual development, as this requires spiritual development also. Physical comforts alone do not provide real pleasure and peace.
The more a man is absorbed in worldly pleasures, the more he is attached towards them. He tries to get the physical comforts of this material world through all possible means (even though in human action). He becomes prepared to commit atrocities and cruel actions. This disturbs world peace.
Various subjects such as geography, science etc., lead to physical, mental and intellectual development, but they do not develop him spiritually. For spiritual development religion oriented education is needed. Only then the goal of an all- round development of the individual may be achieved.
2. Lack of religious faith in man is the cause of his troubles. All the vices of the world are due to irreligiousness and materialistic tendencies. Selfishness is the outcome of materialism which creates vices like enmity, jealousy and intolerance. Hence, religious education is necessary in order to get rid of inhuman tendencies.
3. We have said earlier that religious education becomes defective only when religion is treated in its narrow form. Religion is not being identified with any sector opinion. The essence of all sects is the true religion.
This religion alone can be named as human religion. If it is taught through education, the follower of any religion will not be ignored. It will be worthwhile to provide education in high human ideals which are adored by people of every religion instead of giving place to the rituals of different sects.
4. In such countries which are mainly religious, the religious education will be useful from educational point of view. Education based on religion will be easily understandable and interesting in such countries. India is one such country. But religion should not be taken into its narrow form. By adopting essence of all the sects, religious education should be given in its wider perspective.
5. The aim of education is all-round development of the individual in which development of character is the main aim. Religious education is the best source for character development. Today education being devoid of religion, the character of many of our youths is not what it should be. Evidently, religion is to be given due place in education for the sake of character development
6. In the modern world scientific experimentalism, scientific invention, scientific thinking, intellectual and materialistic development have been continuously going on. Consequently, the progressive countries have achieved material affluence.
But have these countries become happy and peaceful in spite their affluence? The two World Wars are the consequences of the materialistic selfishness.
Humanity had to suffer due to the menace of these wars. Some people tried to bring peace in the world and efforts are still continuing. But world peace has not been achieved so far. The sole reason for it is the neglect spiritualism.
The truth is that materialism and spiritualism should be integrated through religious education. That a hungry nation can survive with spiritualism alone is not true.
Along with physical hunger of soul should also be satisfied. Religious education alone can satisfy the hunger of sow so it will be necessary to impart universal religious education in schools.
One or two persons alone have not stressed the need of religious education. In India, Shri Syed Ahmed Khan, Radhakrishnan, Madan Mohan Malviya, Mahatma Gandhi, Dayanand, Ravindra Nath Tagore and Arvind and such other great men have advocated religious education.
Smt. Annie Besant and Mira Behn, Mataji considered it necessary to integrate education with religious education. While integrating education and religious education we shall have to keep it in mind that the religion to be integrated should be human-religion. Religious education should not be based on the belief of one particular sect.