New religion class: first of its kind

By Carly Evans

Social studies teacher John Camardella will be starting a new class involving world religions.
Social studies teacher John Camardella will be starting a new class involving world religions.

Staff Writer
Among the seemingly endless list of elective courses, there is a new class available. Listed between Psychology 2 and Sociology 1 are the classes Religion 1 and Religion 2. Religion is a class with a very broad name but a very distinct purpose.

Social studies teacher John Camardella has been writing the curriculum for four years and will be the only teacher of the class. Camardella got the idea for a religion class while at a conference in Bali, where there were people of over 30 different religions. He saw the way that people of the different religions interacted with each other.
“The purpose of this class is to expose our students to religions and customs from around the world, both historically and presently,” Camardella said.
Religion 1 and 2 are available to juniors and seniors. According to counselor Rachel Brill, over 50 students have enrolled in either Religion and/or Religion 2. This course can be a one-semester or full-year course depending on whether the student takes both Religion 1 and Religion 2. Religion 1 is taught first semester and will begin with describing what religion is and how it began. The rest of the semester is focused on the Eastern and polytheistic religions. Second semester will begin with the Western religions and then will go into more controversial topics such as Atheism.   
Religion 1 and 2 is based on the idea of teaching students how to be aware of other people’s religions and how to respect one’s religion. Camardella recalls this year’s Activities Fair for the eighth graders, where he met a Muslim family and he shook the husband and son’s hands but knew it would be disrespectful to extend his hand to shake the mother’s. Camardella demonstrates that this type of awareness is what he wants to pass onto the students.
Camardella says that the class is designed for students who are intellectual, open-minded and “see themselves as a part of a larger world.”  Camardella is mostly looking forward to a more “open dialogue on an intellectual level.” The dialogue for which he is looking consists of different opinions and the ability to dissect the basis of a religion.
Camardella’s best way of summing up the class is by quoting theologian Hans Küng: “No peace between the nations without peace between the religions.”