Some ancient religions are dead, some are still practiced today in pockets around the world, some, like Christianity and Judaism, are still going strong after thousands of years.
Some research paper topics are to write about the Islam religion, Native American religion and ancient Greek religion.
Southern schools restrict teaching of Islamic history
A timely topic for research papers is to write about Islamophobia in the United States school system. Several states in the South (North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia) have restricted or are trying to restrict the teaching of Islamic history in public schools, claiming that such lessons are “proselytizing” or “indoctrinating” American children into Islam. For example, the Tennessee State Board of Education is trying to pass a social science curriculum that removes entirely any study of the history of Islam.
During the medieval period, Islamic civilization developed many common items and scientific practices we have today—algebra, the scientific method, the university system, public hospitals, and even toothpaste, coffee, clocks and guitars. In “Cutting Study of Islam a Mistake,” posted in News Sentinel October 2, 2016, Harrison Akins, a research fellow at the University of Tennessee’s Baker Center for Public Policy, commented, “It should be the policy of the state to produce well-informed and reasoned citizens. By censoring the exposure to Islam, Tennessee is not fulfilling this duty. It is unfortunately relegating these students to ignorance of a topic for which they can’t afford to be ignorant, can’t avoid confronting, and which can affect their future opinions and behavior.”
Native American religious expression
Some cultures are struggling to hold onto the religion of their ancestors. Prejudice against Native American religion and culture still prevails today, and schools are forbidding Native American students from expressing their heritage. For example, a school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, forbade a Native American student from wearing a feather on her graduation cap. The feather was meant to honor a major step in the student’s life. Another school in Colorado demanded a Diné boy cut his long hair because it was a “distraction” to other students and did not comply with the dress code.
“Were these administrators completely unaware of the significance of long hair to Native Americans? Had they heard of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act?” said Tara Houska, a tribal rights attorney in Washington, D.C. in “Houska: Native American Hair Is a Religious Right,” posted in Indian Country Today Media Network June 1, 2015. “But perhaps it is simply just another instance of mainstream culture having little to no clue about Native American values, and dismissing those values as foreign once informed,” said Houska.
Greeks still worship ancient gods
You could write a research paper on the modern practice of ancient religions. Although Greece has been predominantly Christianized, some Greeks practice the religion of their ancestors. In “The Greeks who worship the ancient gods,” posted in BBC News, June 20, 2013, Matthew Brunwasser writes about modern Greeks who celebrate the summer solstice on Mount Olympus. They are part of the group called The Return of the Hellenes, founded by Tryphon Olympios in 1996, which is reviving the religion, values, philosophy and way of life of pre-Christian Greece. The group sees the twelve main gods of ancient Greece, including Zeus and Hera, as representations of values such as beauty, health and wisdom.
“People want to identify with something in the past – where they came from – so as to know where they are going,” said sculptor and art historian Exsekias Trivoulides. “If you don’t know your past, you don’t have a future. It’s going back to the roots. It makes me feel the continuation through the millennia.” On the other hand, Robert Parker, a professor of ancient history at the University of Oxford, who called the movement ridiculous, said, “You can’t import an ancient religion into a completely different environment and social system.”
For more information, check out Questia’s library on Ancient Religions.
Do you think the study of ancient religions is important for a well-rounded education? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.