The practice of religion has been a major factor in American culture for centuries. The religion clause of the First Amendment, which states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," was developed to preserve the freedom of religion (Haynes 2). The religion clause was designed to protect religion from the control of the government, but, consequently, it restricts the expression of religion in public institutions such as public schools. This highly debated issue of religion in public schools is supported by the belief that religion is critical to the formation of a healthy society but is disputed on the basis that the church and the state must remain separate to protect the freedom of religion.
Controversies arise over the interpretation of the exact limits of religion in regards to public schools. The religion clause of the First Amendment is often misinterpreted to mean that absolutely no religious expressions or activities can take pl ace in public schools. Richard W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education, published a statement in 1995 detailing the principles of the extent to which religious expression and activity are permitted in public schools. He stated that the First Amendment con tains two equally important obligations of public school officials in their dealings with religion. The first is that schools may not forbid students from expressing their own religious beliefs. Schools may not discriminate against religious expressions performed privately by students, but instead they must offer the same right to be involved with religious activities as they would offer to other activities. At the same t...
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... regarding the role of religion in public schools will continue to arise as long as people have differences of values and beliefs.
Brandt, Ron. "On Finding Common Ground with Religious Conservatives: A Conversation with Charles Haynes." Educational Leadership 53.7 (1996): 73.
Gaddy, Barbara, and T. William Marzano. School Wars: Re2solving Our Conflicts Over Religion and Values. San Francisco: Jassey-Bass, 1996. 169, 182, 187.
Haynes, Charles C.. "Finding Common Ground: Teaching about religion the right way is important." Gannett News Service 30 June 1997, sec. 3:2.
Riley, Richard W. United States Department of Education. Religious Expression in Public Schools (1995). Online. Internet. 8 Oct. 1997. Available http://www.ed.gov/Speeches/08-1995/religion.html.
Tekano, Mark. "Separation Anxiety." A. Magazine. 31 May 1995: 2.
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