What Really Happened? Comparing Stories of the First Thanksgiving

Why are there so many different interpretations of what happened on the first Thanksgiving? What values do the various versions reflect? In this lesson, students will examine different versions of the story of the first Thanksgiving, evaluate the evidence that supports each version and discuss why the history of Thanksgiving is so contentious. Grades 11-12

Breathing New Life into Old Traditions

WEB LESSON Students investigate the role of ceremonies and other traditions of Native American cultures by first examining the Inuit culture. Students then research various Native American nations, focusing on religion, daily life, ceremonies, and current existence of the nations, and create posters that visually depict their research. MS-HS

What Really Happened? Stories of the First Thanksgiving

WEB LESSON What's at stake in interpreting the story [of the First Thanksgiving]? These questions help students start digging into why we remember the past in particular ways and compare stories about the past generated by collective memory with evidence-based accounts of the past. In groups, students read accounts of the first Thanksgiving from one of four points of view: mainstream accounts, Native American educators and public school leaders, conservative and Tea Party activists, and Native Americans critical of the holiday. Multiple articles are provided for each category so teachers may choose the articles most appropriate for their students. After analyzing each category of sources in small groups, students come together as a class to discuss the various perspectives of the accounts they read. This is an ideal opportunity for teachers to highlight the importance of paying attention to source information and reading historical accounts with a critical eye. MS-HS

Faith-Based Initiatives

WEB LESSON Religious organizations have long been recipients of federal funds. However, since the advent of the Faith-Based Initiative, the responsibilities of faith-based organizations to adhere to basic civil rights policies has been eroded. The Faith-Based Initiative has allowed organizations to circumvent existing law and discriminate in their hiring practices, on the basis of religion. Congressman Scott believes that this is a dangerous precedent. He believes that the policy of no discrimination in federal programs is a fundamental element of our civil rights strategy - if we fail to enforce civil rights in federal programs, we lose our moral authority to impose those laws on private employers who may be devoutly religious. This website has a rich set of documents that could be used in a moot court or mock trial class activity HS

Bill Moyers Spirit and Nature

WEB LESSON Is the environment a religious issue? Share this video from a wide swath of religious perspectives on the environment. Provide time for small group student discussion about how religious perspectives impact human responsibility to repair the natural world and preserve the earth?

"Freedom of" or "Freedom From" Religion?

WEB LESSON For hundreds of years before even the passage of the Bill of Rights, individuals came to our shores seeking the opportunity to worship freely and without persecution. These ideals were solidified in the passage of the First Amendment. It defends an individual's right to worship, but also protects individuals from government support of a particular religion. But what happens when the two religious protections conflict among themselves? This is the focus of the lesson.

Islam in America

WEB LESSON & DISCUSSION QUESTIONS In this Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly lesson students explore some of the religious and cultural variations within Islam, as well as the relation of Muslims to members of other religious groups. There are five videos for this lesson. A segment on the influx of Somali Muslims into a town in Maine highlights the tensions that can occur when a group of Muslim immigrants settles in a community unfamiliar with Islam. Other videos look at the relation of African-American Muslims to Muslims who immigrate from Asia and Africa; and similarities between Islamic Halal and Jewish Kosher traditions.

The First Amendment and Funeral Protests: What do you think of the verdict in Snyder v Phelps?

WEB LESSON Facts and Case Summary - Snyder v. Phelps When fallen U.S. soldier Matthew Snyder was laid to rest in 2006, protesters showed up at his funeral. The Westboro Baptist Church brought its "God Hates America" message to the service, standing on the outskirts of the cemetery, speaking about how the country's acceptance of homosexuality has distanced it from God, and every soldier's death is punishment. They waved signs with lewd drawings and inflammatory phrases like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers". According to a Supreme Court ruling, the Westboro church was within its constitutional rights to do this. Follow the discussion and lesson plan material with the included lesson.

Botanicas: Markets of the Divine | Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

WEB LESSON This video from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly explores the emergence and popularity of botanicas, shops that feature a variety of spiritual and religious merchandise and services, including candles, incense, potions, powders, icons, statues and consultations. The botanicas offer immigrants in the United States a place to go to maintain and sustain their customs and beliefs.

Religion and Politics: The Battle Over the Judiciary

WEB LESSON In this PBS lesson, students explore how particular religious blocs voted in the 2004 presidential election and how the hopes and/or expectations of these religious voters impacted the second term of George W. Bush. Students then consider the impact of religion on politics by investigating the controversy over judicial nominees, proposing a research topic, and presenting their findings to their fellow students.

Religion, Culture, and Diversity

WEB LESSON Diversity and pluralism are hallmarks of our society. In this PBS lesson, students learn more about various religions, they share their own religious traditions, and they explore some of the tensions associated with religious and cultural differences. Resources include segments from RELIGION & ETHICS NEWSWEEKLY, Web sites, and interviews with family members and other adults. Art projects on themes of religion, spirituality, and diversity are a culminating activity. Grades 5-8

Evolution vs. Intelligent Design

WEB LESSON In recent decades Charles Darwin's explanation of evolution through natural selection has been challenged by an alternative theory called Intelligent Design. A growing number of science teachers and school boards are struggling with how to present students with the facts. How should students learn the history of life on this planet? Are Christianity and other major religions incompatible with Darwinian evolution? Is there any evidence to support the new theory of intelligent design? Can ID and Darwin find common ground? A good way to engage students in the issue is to break the interview into segments and encourage small groups of students to read and discuss the points of view provided. HS

Religion and the Environment

WEB LESSON This lesson uses clips from the online PBS film narrated by Bill Moyers "Is God Green?" It asks students to review the reasons why some Christians support environmentalism and the arguments used by other Christians who oppose it.

First Freedom: Fight for Religious Liberty

DOCUMENTARY VIDEO Viewers of this documentary will examine the First Amendment's religious clause and its application to contemporary issues of religious liberty. Students will review video segments from "First Freedom: The Fight for Religious Liberty" that explore the development of the freedom of worship clauses in the First Amendment and the establishment of a separation of church and state. Teachers need to provide discussion time for students about the religion clauses in the First Amendment before seeing the film. Appropriate for 9-12