|Separation of Church and State:
A First Amendment Primer
|Violations of Church-State Separation in Our Public Schools
Blatant violations of church-state separation continue to take place
in our public schools. Among the more recent such violations have
been the following:
- In Alabama, a family of Jewish children was
repeatedly harassed after complaining about the promotion of Christian
beliefs in their public schools. One of the students was forced to write
an essay on "Why Jesus Loves Me." At a mandatory school assembly, a
Christian minister condemned to hell all people who did not believe in
- Elsewhere in Alabama, officials in the DeKalb
County school system blatantly disobeyed a district court ruling that
forbade religious activity in school such as the broadcast of Christian
prayers over the school public address system and the distribution of
Gideon Bibles on school property. The court has now been forced to issue
an injunction to compel the schools to abide by its earlier ruling.
- A Jewish student at a public school in Utah was
required to sing religious songs and participate in Mormon religious
worship activities as part of a choir class. After she voiced objections
to these practices, the student was humiliated in class by the teacher
and became the target of anti-Semitic harassment by her classmates.
- Some otherwise well-intentioned advocates for school reform are promoting
initiatives that would channel public funds to schools that engage in
religious indoctrination. In their various forms -- "vouchers,"
"school choice," "hope and opportunity scholarships"
-- these programs would force Americans to do something contrary to
our very notion of democracy: to pay taxes to support the propagation
of religious dogma.
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