Religion is a complex, often controversial topic that touches the lives of nearly 6.5 billion people around the world. Though it is difficult to define, most people agree that religion encompasses a belief in a god or spirit, and a system of morality. It also involves a code of conduct and a sense of connection with inanimate and animate things in the environment. Religion also deals with human curiosity about the nature of the universe, and a fear of forces beyond control.
Different disciplines will take a wide variety of approaches to studying Religion, and these approaches will often conflict. Anthropologists, for example, will often work with a broad definition of religion which includes practices and belief systems such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, while theologians and scholars of political thought will more likely take a narrower content-based approach to Religious studies. This is fine, as long as the disciplines working with the concept of Religion are aware that their definitions may differ from those used by others and are willing to engage in purpose-relative assessment of their usefulness (cf. Southwold, 1978: 367).
For this reason, NCSS recommends that the study of Religion be part of every social studies curriculum. It teaches students to explore the global contexts of societies past and present, encourages civic participation and respect for people with diverse beliefs, and helps prepare them to work collaboratively in multicultural settings. This approach is consistent with the C3 Framework goal to cultivate knowledge of global contexts and foster a well-rounded, cultured student body.