DOES GOD BELONG IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS?
Release date: 02/01/2005
Columbia law professor Greenawalt tackles one of the truly intractable problems encountered in applying the Constitution to public life. Under the First Amendment, the government can neither establish religion nor prohibit the free exercise of religion. How can these two rules, which tug in opposite directions, be applied coherently to government-run schools? Looking at cases that have come before the courts, Greenawalt surveys the many contexts in which the proper place of religion in public schools is at issue. Some decisionsare clear-cut: he says, for example, that the courts have stated that while schools may teach about religion's impact on history, they may neither endorse nor condemn the beliefs of any given religion. Where a subject, for example science, has a recognized secular method, views inconsistent with the method, such as creationism, are seen by educators as religious and thus should not be taught. Teachers can explain religious references in works of literature without becoming advocates or critics of the religions involved. In analyzing these and other issues, Greenawalt is refreshingly free of dogmatism. His judgments and conclusions are carefully drawn and nuanced, and he demonstrates how small changes in the facts can produce very different constitutional outcomes. This book will make you think clearly—and show you how. (Feb.)