Understanding Other Religious Beliefs

This lesson helps students learn more about different religions and discuss the importance of religion freedom.
Grade Level


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to

  • define, discuss and write about religious freedom.
  • communicate, orally and in writing, about religion with sensitivity and respect.
Essential Questions
  • How would you describe religious freedom? Why is it important?
  • Why might people show a lack of respect for other religions?
  • Enduring Understandings:
    • Religious freedom is the principle that supports the freedom of any person, in public or private, to practice a religion or belief—and, as well, the freedom to change one's religion or belief.
    • The United States Constitution specifically protects religious freedom in its First Amendment. Despite that, some Americans are suspicious of others who have religious beliefs with which they are unfamiliar.


prejudice [ prej-uh-dis ] (noun) an opinion or insufficient information that is not based on fact or actual experience.

secular [ sek-yuh-ler ] (adjective) denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.

religious freedom [ ri-lij-uh s free-duh m ] (noun) the right to practice any religion you choose, or to live without any religion at all

tolerance [ tol-er-uh-ns ] (noun) a fair, open, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one's own


Suggested Procedure

1. Instruct students: “In your notebook, list the names of as many different religions or faith traditions you know about. Share your lists with the class.” As students share responses, create a master list on chart paper. Note: If students struggle with this activity, make suggestions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Atheism, Baha’i Faith, Sikhism, Shinto, Confucianism, and others.

2. Explain: “In the United States, religious freedom is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Religious freedom can be defined as ‘the right to practice any religion you choose, or to live without any religion at all, without the government getting involved.’ Put this definition into your own words and tell it to a partner.” (Note: Explain that “without the government getting involved” means “the law cannot tell you what you can and cannot do in the way you practice your religion.”)

3. Ask students to pick one religion from the list, using one or more reliable online sites (suggestions below). You may also want to ask your school librarian/media specialist to select grade-appropriate books about different religions. Instruct students: “Gather information about one religion, and create a poster to present the information. The poster should include interesting facts about major beliefs, sacred texts, festivities and ceremonies, rituals, clothing, places of worship, and so on.”




4. Review students’ work. Ask them to present the posters to the class. After students complete their presentations, ask the class to share their reactions and ask questions through while using the handout Speaking With Respect.

Note: You can also offer students a choice of these three graphic organizers to help them design their posters as described above.


Do Something

Guide students in organizing a “Religious Diversity Day” in your school building or district. Discuss and plan the event carefully. Ask: Why might event be helpful to the community? What are our goals? How might we promote this event in a way that includes everyone and does not endorse or support any one religion? Invite guest speakers from the community, from local churches, synagogues, mosques, etc. to join in a discussion about religious customs, traditions, writings, etc. Invite all students, teachers, and administrators to attend.


Alignment to Common Core State Standards/ College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards CCSS R.4, W.2, W.4, W.7, SL.1, L.4

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Welcome to Learning for Justice—Formerly Teaching Tolerance!

Our work has evolved in the last 30 years, from reducing prejudice to tackling systemic injustice. So we’ve chosen a new name that better reflects that evolution: Learning for Justice.

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