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Religious Freedom and Persecution throughout the World
Submitted by Melissa Pineiro, North Brunswick Township High School

Core Questions addressed: What is the role of religion and spirituality within the global community?

Time Frame: 2-6 days (dependent upon in class research time, in class writing time and presentation time)

Suggest Grade Level: High School

New Jersey Core Content Standards:

Instructional Objective:

  1. Students will be able to explain Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  2. Students will be able to identify both religious based persecution and religious freedom
  3. Students will be able to identify various places in the world where religious based persecution occurs
  4. Students will be able to identify different groups that are persecuted based on religion
  5. Students will be able to identify conflicts that occur worldwide due to religious based persecution

Resource Materials:

  1. School Media Center or Computer Lab
  2. Large World Map
  3. Article 18 of United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (
  4. Websites which discuss Religious Freedom and Religious Persecution:

Strategies and Procedures:

  1. Have students write down a definition for the following words: freedom, toleration, and persecute. Also have them write how these words relate to religion.
  2. Have students share and discuss their definitions and their responses.
  3. Share with students the meaning of these words in regards to religion as found in a dictionary:
    Toleration: the allowance of religious opinions and modes of worship in a state when contrary to, or different from, those of the established church or belief
    Freedom: the capacity to exercise choice
    Persecute: to oppress or harass with ill-treatments, especially because of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or beliefs
  4. Have students read Article 18 of the United Nationals Universal Declaration of Human Rights. “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with other and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
  5. Discuss with students the meaning of Article 18.
  6. Discuss with students how in some countries religious tolerance can be seen while in others it can not. Discuss some reasons why it is possible that religious tolerance is not seen world wide.
  7. Inform students that they are going to be part of a project to examine religious freedom is various parts of the world.
  8. Assign each student a country (depending on the number of students in the class, it might be necessary to do this assignment in partners).
    Countries to be assigned: Burma, China, North Korea, India, Iran, Iraq, Laos, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Bosnia, Indonesia, Middle East (Israel/Palestine), Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Tibet, Afghanistan, Belarus, Egypt, Lebanon and Nigeria.
  9. Explain to students that they are going to research the status of religions freedom, toleration and persecution in their nation. Each student is to prepare a 5-7 minute presentation explaining summarizing the topic. Each student is to also prepare a 1 page typed summary of the topic which will be included in a class visual that will accompany the assignment.
  10. Clarify questions.
  11. Allow fixed time for research and writing.
  12. On the day presentations begin have a world map placed on a wall in the classroom (this stage of the lesson could be quite large and should only be done if convenient).
  13. Have each student give their presentation. At the conclusion of each presentation have each student take their 1 page typed summary and affix it to the map with a line pointing to their country. After the presentations are complete you will have a large class made visual aide which describes the status of religious freedom, toleration and persecution worldwide.
  14. After presentations are complete, discuss with students the world status of religions freedom, toleration and persecution. Discuss with students ways in which religious freedom and toleration can be achieved, as well as ways in which religious persecution could end.


  1. Evaluate student assigned country:
    33 points – Research
    33 points – Presentation
    33 points – 1 pages typed summary
  2. Evaluate class visual aide
  3. Have students write and essay comparing and contrasting religious freedom, toleration and persecution in the United States with their assigned country.

To learn more about the influence of Religion and Spirituality on our global society, click on the links below:
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