In a new series of occasional reports, “Religion and the Courts: The Pillars of Church-State Law,” the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life explores the complex, fluid relationship between government and religion.
Among the issues to be examined are religion in public schools, displays of religious symbols on public property, conflicts concerning the free exercise of religion, and government funding of faith-based organizations.
The disputes then were over prayers were appropriate to use in the classroom.
Some Catholics were troubled that the schools’ reading materials included the King James version of the Bible, which was favored by Protestants.
For instance, when a student invokes gratitude to God in a valedictory address, or a high school football player offers a prayer in a huddle, is the school legally responsible for their religious expression?
The issues are complicated by other constitutional guarantees.For instance, the First Amendment also protects freedom of speech and freedom of association.Religious groups have cited those guarantees in support of student religious speech and in efforts to obtain school sponsorship and resources for student religious clubs.In 1844, fighting broke out between Protestants and Catholics in Philadelphia; a number of people died in the violence and several Catholic churches were burned.Similar conflicts erupted during the 1850s in Boston and other parts of New England.Religious Displays and the Courts June 2007 Government displays of religious symbols have sparked fierce battles.Religion in the Public Schools May 2007 Americans continue to fight over the place of religion in public schools.Can students be compelled to participate in a Christmas-themed music program?Sometimes students themselves, rather than teachers, administrators or coaches, bring their faith into school activities.Nearly a half-century after the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling striking down school-sponsored prayer, Americans continue to fight over the place of religion in public schools.Indeed, the classroom has become one of the most important battlegrounds in the broader conflict over religion’s role in public life.