Subject Areas

Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism
History/Social Sciences
To explain religious doctrines
(Biblical or Qur'anic or Vedic or
other) and expose youngsters to a
religion's fundamental narratives
in keeping with historical method.

To teach about religion in an
historical way (historical research
works by means of traceable
causation and by analogy with the
experiences of the present day).

To judge ancient writings using
academically sound procedures
rather than the standards of a
given religion. [OABITAR]

To say, when Caleb asks if it is
true that [
the prophet Muhammad
ascended to heaven
]: "Some
people believe so; others don't. It's
a matter of faith. Why don't you
discuss it with your (
parent or
religious leader

To say, in the above situation,
"This assertion from [
the Qur'an]
is part of a narrative that is sacred
to Muslims] and not a statement
that comes from historical

To include creation stories and
Creationism concepts in classes
on comparative religion as an
example of how some religious
groups believe human life began.

To teach religious dogma, faith
doctrines, and narratives
history (i.e., that the stories in
venerated literature are historically
accurate, that the characters are
real or that the events actually took
place or that the miracles were

To teach about religion in a
non-historical way (e.g., using a
worldview interpretation,
overlooking the fallibility of oral
tradition or available archeological

To use one's own worldview to
evaluate the validity or worth of
ancient texts.

To use your own worldview rather
than an academic foundation to
respond, when Sarah asks if [e.g.,
Moses's parting the Red Sea to
let the Israelites escape their
] really happened that

To teach that a particular creation
story or a Creationist explanation
of human origins is in fact how
human life began.
1 Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97 (1968)
2 Aguillard v. Edwards, 765 F.2d 1251 (5th Cir.), aff'd 482 U.S. 595 (1987)
3 McLean v. Arkansas Board of Education, 529 F.Supp. 1255 (E.D. Ark.1982) cited
favorably in Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578 (1987)
4 Freiler v. Tangipahoa Parish Board of Education, 185 F.3d 337 (5th Cir. 1999) cert.
denied, 530 U.S. 1251 (2000)
5 Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948) (Jackson, J.,
6 Washegesic v. Bloomingdale Public Schools, 33 F.3d 679 (6th Cir. 1994)
7 School District of Abington Township, PA v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963)
8 Sease v. School Dist. of Philadelphia, 811 F.Supp. 183 (E.D. Pa. 1993)
To teach evolution in science
The United States
Supreme Court has determined
that it is unconstitutional to
restrict an educator's right to
teach evolution.
[ADL-with court
citation 1]

To refuse to teach creationism.
The United States Supreme
Court has held that it is
unconstitutional to require
educators who teach evolution
also to teach creationism.

[ADL-with court citation 2]

To teach in science classes
the scientific explanations for life
on earth and scientific critiques of
evolution. [ADL]

To use
scientific criteria and
statements of the preeminent
scientific organizations to extol the
merits of the scientific theory of
evolution through natural selection.

To refer to creationist concepts of
origins as examples of how some
religious groups believe human
life began.
To fail to teach evolution in an
effort to avoid offending some
religious individuals.

To teach creationism (creationist
theory based on the biblical
account) in the science
classroom. [FCG]

To teach "creation science"
(creationism) as a response or
counterpart to the theory of

Creationism does not meet either
the legal requirement or tenets of
science as scientists use the
[ADL-with court citation 3]

To teach
as science, the theory
that humankind was created by a
divine being. [ADL]

To treat creationist analysis as
scientific critique.

To provide to students disclaimers
regarding the theory of evolution
as the only explanation for the
development of humankind.
(Disclaimers have been found to
be unconstitutional.)
court citation 4]

To teach that Creationism is a
scientific fact. [ADL]

To teach "intelligent design
theory," that is, that the very
complexity of the world makes the
existence of God the only
reasonable explanation for the
development of humans. This
theory, often couched in scientific
terminology, is just another
species of creationism theory, and
thus also must not be taught in the
classroom as science theory or
fact. [ADL]
To include the study of religiously
inspired material as a part of a
secular educational program.
[ADL-with court citation 5]

To use art, drama, music or
literature with religious or
nonreligious themes when it
serves a sound educational goal
in the curriculum. [TGRPS]

To teach about religious and
nonreligious (freethought)
influences on art, music, literature,
science, and social studies in
relation to a culture. [OABITAR]

To include religious or
nonreligious (freethought) music
or drama in school events that are
part of a secular program of

To present public performances or
presentations of music, literature
and art are permissible, as long
as they are "presented objectively
as part of a secular program of
education." [ADL-with court
citation 7]
To permanently display religious
artwork. [ADL-with court citation 6]

To allow religious or freethought
music, literature, art or other
worldview-derived activities to
dominate a classroom activity.

To ignore the sway of religious
and nonreligious imperatives on
culture, or to emphasize one form
of influence and ignore the other.

To have a school's choral group
sing songs that are religious in
nature unless the songs are part of
a larger program of music that is
secular. [ADL]

The content of school special
events, assemblies, concerts and
programs must be primarily
secular, objective and
educational, and may not focus
on any one religion or religious
observance and may not appear
to endorse religion over
nonreligion or one religion over
[ADL-with court citation 8
and citation 7]