ERIC Number: ED392150
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-Jan
The Courts, Religion, and Public Education. Freedom of Conscience and the Lemon Test. The Human Side: How Does All This Affect Kids?
Wilmore, Elaine L.
Most school districts have cautiously avoided situations in which they may violate the legal principle of church-state separation. This paper describes a few cases in which public schools found ways to legally include Christian activities for Christian students. The passage of the United States Equal Access Act in 1984 allowed religious clubs access to public secondary schools. The "Board of Education of the Westside Community Schools v. Mergens" case of 1990 ruled that high school students could participate in a prayer club at their school with a "limited open forum." The Mergens case opened the door to many student-led, Bible-club-related activities; however, the debate continues as to what constitutes a limited open forum. The "Mergens" case has also untied the hands of many Christian educators, parents, and students who want to allow Bible studies, clubs, and prayer groups on their campuses. These activities are growing rapidly. The key is that they must be organized and led by students. Two student-led organizations include the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Teens United in Faith (TUF) clubs. Elementary students at Gerard Elementary School in Cleburne, Texas, have also formed a Bible club with the strong support of parents, teachers, and their principal. The paper argues that the founding fathers of the United States intended freedom of religion rather than freedom from religion. (LMI)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southwest Educational Research Association (Dallas, TX, January 26-28, 1995).