The Civic Public School
Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism
Everyone (every "citizen of the school") has freedom of conscience.
At school, each person is treated justly and respectfully.
Through its laws, our nation acknowledges certain human rights for every
citizen. Religious liberty is a right bestowed on all, the nonreligious as well
as the religious. Public schools are first and foremost models of the nation’s
charter. Their educators are leaders of institutions established by the people
through their government. They are required to represent the civic
framework. For most students, it is their public schools that mold their
conceptions of citizenship.
Public education is for all students. The schools are to be places where
people of every faith and no faith are treated with fairness and respect. This
is the ideal put forth by the 3Rs (rights, responsibility, respect) approach to
the just handling of religion in public school classrooms and programs.
Teachers owe to all children they teach equitable consideration,
acknowledging each as an individual who is fully free to hold to his or her
individual faith conviction or belief of conscience.
In the school society, a person who has a particular worldview is to be
neither outsider nor insider. Everyone is to be in full a member of the
community. No one is to be favored because of personally held worldview
beliefs. No one is frowned upon or shunned due to their beliefs of
Classroom teachers impart an image to students of how America looks
upon its citizens’ religious freedom. In a conducive classroom atmosphere,
youngsters can learn to respect their classmates’ freedom to have and
maintain individuality of conscience with regard to ultimate beliefs and
Professional educators must attempt to respond to diverse outlooks in an
impartial and academic manner. This stance accords the same respect and
consideration to those children who abide by unusual or unfamiliar faith
systems, and to those who may reject all faiths, as is given to youngsters
who share the teacher’s outlook or who adhere to conventional belief
systems familiar to the teacher.
Corrections and comments invited. [last modified: 8/31/04]
Author: Mynga Futrell, Ph.D.