Piety in the Public School: Trends and Issues in the Relationship between Religion and the Public School in the United States

By Robert Michaelsen | Go to book overview

IX
Piety and Learning, Unity in Diversity A Concluding Positional Postscript

"In abbreviation: religion is the substance of culture, culture is the form of religion."

- Paul Tillich1

"If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

-- The Supreme Court of the United States, 19432

"Education's first duty is to make possible the survival of our country."

-- Dr. Max Rafferty3

Seldom has so much been expected from one institution as Americans expect from their public school. Is there a national crisis? Send the school to the rescue. Is our democratic faith in jeopardy? The school must instill that faith and elicit wholehearted commitment to it. Is the very survival of the country at stake? The school must save it. Two generations ago the school was called upon to Americanize the immigrant; today it is expected to bridge the widening chasm between white and black Americans. During the 1930's the school helped ease the pains of the great depression; today it must gird our loins for the continuing global struggle with communism while coping

____________________
1
Theology of Culture, p. 42.
2
Board of Education v. Barnette,319 U.S. 624, 642. The words are Justice Jackson's.
3
This is the opening sentence of Dr. Rafferty's book Suffer, Little Children ( New York: Devin-Adair Co., 1962), p. ix. Dr. Rafferty is superintendent of public instruction for the state of California.

-254-

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