The First Amendment Founding Fathers wanted to provide American citizens the right to practice the religion of their choice without fear. They did not want what had happened in England to happen in the new republic. So…in order to protect religious freedom the founders included Two clauses in the 1 st Amendment.
Establishment Clause Decrees that religions and the state should be kept separate so that no religion has more rights than any other. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
Free Exercise Clause Prevents the government from limiting Americans’ from expressing religious beliefs in ways that seem right to them.
How we ended up where we are today… Public schools offered immigrants an opportunity for social mobility Natural born citizens believed schools would Americanize these “newcomers.” To achieve from both ends, schools made “reasonable accommodations.” Prayers were offered as “theistic” rather than “Christian” language. Those who could not make these accommodations sent their children to schools that would allow practice such as Catholic schools.
In the last 60 years… Schools saw an expansion of agnostic, atheistic, and antireligious philosophies. These people believe that prayer in public schools pressure students into a religion without giving them the opportunity to fairly evaluate them. This small but effective minority has successfully won court rulings that have had negative effects on exercise of religion in schools and has resulted in a secular belief system.
Establishment Clause Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. It has been interpreted as… Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.
Secularists Believe investigation rather than religious teachings is the source of answers to important human questions. (Council for Secular Humanism, 2008) Even the Supreme Court has affirmed that secular humanism is a religious belief.
Have we then…. allowed Secularism to create schools that are hostile towards believers? allowed Secularism to force schools to change curriculum including the importance of religion on American history? allowed one belief to replace many beliefs?
Curricular Consequences Fear of controversy has led text publishers to neglect the study of religious influences on historical events Antagonism approaches exist in most subjects
Teaching of the Origin of Life Creationism-the religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural agencyCreationism-the religious belief that humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural agency Intelligent Design- Is the assertion that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.Intelligent Design- Is the assertion that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Evolution- change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generationsEvolution- change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations
Thoughts about science For religious freedom If creationism isn’t being taught then they want intelligent design taught in science classes Natural Selection can’t explain “irreducibly complex systems”
What did they do!!!! Cobb Count School District officials in Georgia attempted to place stickers on science books that said
Religion and Public Schools: Unification or Separation
According to the Law “Religious liberty in America means all are free to express their beliefs but may not impose them on others.” The First Amendment Teachers and administrators are prohibited from… Students have the right to… Meeting on School Property
Establishing Religion in Public Schools Groups like the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS) distribute course syllabi in school districts around the country, claiming they “convey the content of the Bible as compared to literature and history.”
Religion and Sex Education The federal government has provided funding for sex education programs only to school districts that have “abstinence only” sex education. Sex education programs that go beyond abstinence only are more likely to offer students a chance to explore thoughtfully their own and their family’s religious values. Abstinence-only sex education programs do not prevent young people from engaging in intercourse. Government support of these “education” programs constitutes an establishment of religion that violates the Constitution.
Creationism/Intelligent Design Creationism and Intelligent Design are religious beliefs Evolution is supported by an abundant evidence from many different fields of scientific investigation An Earth Science and/or Bio course that doesn’t teach evolution short changes the students
Characteristics of Science 1.It is guided by natural law 2.It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law 3.It is testable against the empirical world 4.Its conclusions are tentative 5.It is falsifiable
What’s the Big Deal? It hurts individuals by making full acceptance as a member of the school community dependent on sharing the majority’s religious beliefs. Under the protection of the Establishment Clause, religious belief or non-belief should be irrelevant in one’s ability to participate fully in schooling. If you promote one religion, individuals and groups are assigned social status on the basis of how closely their beliefs adhere to the preferred religion. People’s commitment to a religion may be dependent on the social setting, rather than on their own belief.