For Educators

War and Religion – Background


Students will explore the concept of a “just war” by examining various religious traditions as well as international law. They will study the criteria of a “just war,” apply what they learn to the case of the War on Terrorism, and decide whether they think the War on Terrorism is a justifiable and appropriate response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Students will also examine the pacifist perspective on war and retaliation, and they will evaluate pacifism as an alternative to war — be it “just” or otherwise.

Grade Level:

Grades 6-8

Time Allotment:

5-7 class periods

Note: The time needed for each learning activity is approximate. It will vary depending on the particular needs and skills of your students, as well as on course parameters and time constraints you may have to consider.

Subject Matter:

United States History; World History; Ethics; Culture and Society; Sociology; Religion.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Research and understand the “just war” theory as laid out in religious traditions and in international law.
  • Analyze and explore the various perspectives on whether the War on Terrorism is a “just war.”
  • Research and understand the anti-war and pacifist positions.
  • Develop skills in creating and conducting surveys.
  • Work cooperatively in small groups.
  • Make historical connections related to government, individuals, social attitudes, and needs/desires.
  • Synthesize the information gathered during the lesson in a final essay and a visual component.
  • Understand the following vocabulary: “just war,” pacifism, retaliation, just cause, patriotism/patriot, preemptive strike, unilateral, proportionality, non-combatant immunity, collateral damage, genocide.


This lesson plan was prepared by Thandi Center