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Essay about Role of Religion in Public Education

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American society is a blend of secularized and religious elements. Anderson (2004) noted that these two elements have always posed a dilemma for public education. The struggle is how to accommodate both of these societal characteristics. He pointed out that the secular nature of American public culture and its underlying pluralistic character are important aspects of the context for our system of education. The role of religion in public education is not limited to America alone. There are several examples from different parts of the world to prove how widespread the problem is. Thomas (2006) reported a case in France in which a Muslim girl was expelled for wearing a traditional Islamic headscarf. The President supported the move saying that religion should not be permitted in public schools. Islamic leaders protested that the ban was prejudicial, singling out Muslims for discriminatory practices. Hinsliff (2004) reported an interesting controversy in which Christian evangelists in England wanted to have the strengthening of faith teaching in schools. They dropped the idea when the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority announced a plan to include it but in addition include the teaching of humanism, agnosticism and atheism. In India, after an intense debate, the controversial teaching of Hindu astrology was retained because it was considered important in predicting earthquakes and other natural disasters. Interestingly, in China, the Bible is a legal reading material in schools but evangelical preaching is not. In Italy, in 2003, a court case filed by a Muslim parent involving the removal of a Christian crucifix in schools was only settled when the school agreed to allow a verse in the Quran that states that “There is no...


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...se of the divergent views and lack of unanimity. Julinski (1998) wonders if a one-minute period of silence for meditation or voluntary prayer, a practice invalidated by the Supreme Court ruling in Wallace v. Jaffre (1985) constitute a violation of the constitution. Today, the local conservative groups are continuously conducting an unrelenting campaign of harassment and intimidation against public education all over the country. These words by Jerry Falwell sum up the battle ahead; “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be” (Manatt 1995, p. 3). We are out on a long journey before we settle this issue. It is going to continue being a significant and thorny issue in education policy.

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