Why are certain faiths often excluded from world religions courses?

Religion practiced by the majority of religious persons in the states of the world. (source: Wikipedia)

Religion practiced by the majority of religious persons in the states of the world. (source: Wikipedia)

In response to the California state legislature’s call for the state’s college systems to include Sikhism in world religion courses, a religious studies professor considers why certain communities have often been excluded from syllabi:

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the experiences of “Indians” convicted me to reflect on this matter. The founders of my academic discipline are partially responsible for the painful histories these peoples came to experience. And in my syllabi, I’ve had a tendency to continue that legacy, albeit discursively.

Read more from Richard Newton on his blog Sowing the Seed.


  1. What if these “academics” teaching these courses don’t do the right job portraying the faith? What if they don’t recognize it as it is,as an independent faith, and portray it completely wrong? If that’s the case, will this do more harm than good?

  2. Mr. MacLeod,

    I am relatively new to Sikhi, however, I have a passion to learn so that I get things right the first time. Common sense would dictate having Sikh studies organized along the lines of current religion and ethnic studies programs with the appropriate tuning. Have those of the appropriate backgrounds with degrees in the relevant disciplines (Indo-Aryan Languages, Persian languages, philosophy of religion, South Asian history, etc.). Joseph Cunningham and Max Arthur MacAuliffe will finally receive the respect they deserve for the hardship they endured by their endeavors.

    I must address the moral angle. What is so difficult to understand about the internal witness of “There is no Hindu; there is no Muslim. What path shall I walk? I shall walk God’s Path”? At the risk of appearing cynical, when current academicians confront monism and reincarnation, do they think Hinduism, nothing more, less and other? Whether or not pressure originating from the government, private sector, NGO’s and/or the diaspora community of India to oppose this approach remains to be seen.

    Harm occurs as we speak. Who benefits from the status quo? Who would suffer harm if the truth were unshackled?


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: