Lesson in the Law: Public Schools Are for Teaching, Not Preaching

Church & State, September 2011 | Go to article overview

Lesson in the Law: Public Schools Are for Teaching, Not Preaching


Millions of children all over the United States are returning to school right about now. These youth come from all varieties of the Christian religion, as well as non-Christian faiths such as Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca and others. Some of them are non-religious.

It should be obvious that with diversity such as this, any effort to use public schools to promote a specific religious perspective is bound to fail. But that doesn't stop the Religious Right.

Aggressive and well-funded Religious Right groups continue to view the public schools as a "mission field." They believe only their interpretation of religion is valid, and they demand access to other people's children to spread it.

Their schemes violate the Constitution and the rights of parents. Parents should be free to decide what religion (if any) their children are exposed to. No school official should be allowed to meddle in that relationship by pressuring a young person to adopt different beliefs.

The Religious Right's constant attempts to "Christianize" (as they narrowly define that faith) public schools also threatens the freedom to learn. Over the years, Religious Right groups have worked to remove comprehensive sex education from schools, ban books they deem "immoral," water down the teaching of evolution and rewrite U. …

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