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Freedom of Religion: Study Questions

Suggested Review Questions and Activities

Teachers: The following are questions and activities that can be given to your students after they read the materials in each section. The questions are meant to be asked as a review exercise, although some encourage critical thinking as well. The activities can be presented as classroom exercises or as individual homework assignments. Unlike the questions, they tend to require additional research. Some call for students to create mock trials or debates that would engage the entire class. Both the questions and the activities are formatted so that they might be used directly by students, although you may rewrite them as you feel necessary.

Essential Principles

Questions

What are the essential elements of religious freedom? Is formal separation of religion and state necessary, or is religious freedom possible where a state religion is recognized?

Activity

Many of the countries selected for this study guide have significant Muslim populations. They offer a variety of models for the relationship between Islam and the state. Answer the questions above by comparing a Free or Partly Free Muslim country with a Muslim country designated Not Free. What do the results tell you?

United States

Question

The United States has adherents of just about every known religion living within its borders. Has it protected the rights of all? If so, how has it accomplished this? Are there ever conflicts between religious groups in the United States? What circumstances would lead to religious friction or harmony?

Activity

What questions concerning religious freedom does the country face today? Take and defend a position on an issue regarding the establishment of religion from one of the U.S. Supreme Court cases noted in this chapter.

Nigeria

Question

Does the application of Sharia, in civil or criminal cases, necessarily contradict the principles of freedom of religion? Is the exclusion of Sharia from official courts itself a violation of religious freedom, as claimed by some Muslim leaders in Nigeria?

Activity

What are the dangers of allowing religious law to serve as the state's law? Compare the section on Nigeria with the country study of Saudi Arabia (chapter 8, "Rule of Law"). What other examples can you find to illustrate these dangers? What examples can you find to show that there is no danger in the adoption of religious law by a state?

Vietnam

Question

How does the Vietnamese government justify the controls it imposes on religion? How successful has it been in manipulating religion to serve the state?

Activity

Compare Nigeria and Vietnam. Are there any similarities between Vietnam's state-imposed religious practices and the newly adopted Sharia statutes in Nigeria's northern, mostly Muslim states? Are there any differences? Include research from the internet.