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ERIC Number: ED538213
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Nov-14
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Incorporating a Bible Study Course into the High School Curriculum. Research Brief
Muir, Mike
Education Partnerships, Inc.
Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish parochial schools have always had religious studies as part of their curriculum, but there has been the question about whether public schools can also. "In 1962 two U.S. Supreme Court cases (Abington School District vs. Schempp and Engle vs. Vitale) prohibited the practice of Bible reading in public schools. It was believed that activities such as Bible reading violated individuals' rights of religious belief and expression as protected in the First Amendment. Since 1962 various legal and professional statements have indicated that the study of religions, but not the practice of religions, ought to be an integral part of public school curriculum" (Smith & Bodin, 1979). Given the diversity of religious beliefs in this country and the principle of separation of church and state, courts are trying to balance individual's interests and rights but "are unlikely to develop unambiguous criteria for delineating the proper distance between church and state" (Epley, 1984). In general, however, "the three tests the Supreme Court had developed in regard to the constitutionality of statutes involving church-state relations are: (1) the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; (2) its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) it must not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion" (Hamilton, 1983). The principal of "study of religion, not practice of religion" would suggest that if the focus of Bible study is Christian-focused religious study, it should be a student-initiated club or organization. If the Bible were to be a curricular study, then it should be either the history and geography of the Bible, or the Bible as literature. (Contains 8 online resources.)
Education Partnerships, Inc. Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: Teachers; Administrators
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Education Partnerships, Inc. (EPI)
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: First Amendment