Religion and Power

This lesson is written as a series of notes for facilitators.

Educator Notes: 

This lesson is designed for an early high school classroom on a 100 minute block schedule with access to computers. As alternatives teachers may assign summarizing the articles for homework, ask students to choose only one or two articles to summarize or provide printed copies of a few articles for the students to read in class or as homework.


Students will analyze the role of religion in many different aspects of people’s lives and analyze how deeply faith can impact a society’s progress.

Warm-up Activity:

Think about your own faith or beliefs. If you do not follow a specific faith, then please try to answer the questions as best you can. If you cannot answer a question, please state that you have not used faith to think of this position before. Your responses need to be written out to allow you to go through the thinking process but will not be collected because it is understood these are personal positions.

  1. How does your faith impact your view of the role of

  • a)men
  • b)women
  1. How does your faith impact the way you think of your health, medicine, doctors, cures for diseases, etc?

  2. How does your faith impact the way you view the environment?

  3. How does your faith impact the way you view social classes and the economy?

  4. How does your faith impact your view of education?

  5. How does your faith impact your opinion on same sex relationships?

  6. How does your faith impact your view of politics and government policy?

  7. How does your faith impact your view of family planning, marriage or divorce (birth control, number of children, one parent/two parent/same sex parents)?

Introducing the Lesson:

Today’s lesson will ask students to self-select articles from the Pulitzer Center Gateways theme of Religion and Power. After analyzing for themselves how religion may or may not affect their views of different aspects of our society, students will search out articles that explain how faith is impacting the development of all aspects of society in differing ways around the world. Not all of the articles in the Gateways link relate specifically to the task, so students will have to discern relevance when making their choices.


Look through the links related to the theme Religion and Power and find any three articles that relate to the questions you answered in the warm up activity. Be sure that each article addresses a different concept. For example you might find one article addressing faith and the environment, one article on faith and education and one article on faith and health. After selecting the relevant articles please fill out the following:

Article 1 title:

Summary of information:

Article 2 title:

Summary of information:

Article 3 title:

Summary of information:


Students should be placed in groups of 3 or 4 to share out the articles they found. As a group they should discuss their answers to numbers 4-7. After the discussions are completed the teacher can lead a whole class final discussion on the different ways religion can impact many aspects of society.

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