Snippets (Short Quotes)
Much has been said in the past about religions in societies, and particularly
about the United States’ bold experiment in religious liberty and secular
public education. A wealth of material exists regarding the themes of this
website. There are, for example, significant statements made by noted
individuals, position papers of established groups, lengthy court opinions,
newspaper editorials, writings of academics, and so on.
In this section, we supply very brief quotations from such material. Please
consider how lessons involving minority and nonreligious worldviews may
benefit from teachers' creative application of such "snippets" as are
included here. As examples, consider how well the quotes below speak to
how religion and education interrelate within the special U.S. context.
Only in America! (3 snippets)
Example A: America is a state in which church and synagogue, religion
and irreligion are equal before the law and where citizens are neither to
enjoy any advantages nor to suffer any disadvantages because of their
religion. America is a state which seeks neither to promote nor to hinder
the free exercise of religion, in which neither religion nor irreligion is to
enjoy any official status or support on the part of the government.
- James E. Wood, Jr. Director of J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, Baylor
University, “Religious Pluralism and American Society” in Ecumenical Perspectives on
Church and State, (Baylor University Press, 1988), p. 16
Example B: The public school is at once the symbol of our democracy
and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny. In no
activity of the state is it more vital to keep out divisive forces than in its
schools, to avoid confusing, not to say fusing, what the Constitution sought
to keep strictly apart.
- Justice Felix Frankfurter concurring opinion in McCollum v. Board of Education (1948), at
Example C: It is implicit in the history and character of American public
education that the public schools serve a uniquely public function: the
training of American citizens in an atmosphere free of parochial, divisive,
or separatist influence of any sort—an atmosphere in which children may
assimilate a heritage common to all American groups and religions. This
is a heritage neither theistic nor atheistic, but simply civic and patriotic.
- Justice William J. Brennan concurring opinion 374 in Abington School District v.
Schempp (1963), US 242
Some of the most eloquent and profound statements about religion (as it
relates to the extraordinary situation of the United States generally and our
public education context specifically) can be found in The Great Quotations
on Religious Freedom [Centerline Press, 1991, ISBN0-913111-37-06],
compiled by Al Menendez and Edd Doerr. We have excerpted with
permission from that useful resource numerous brief quotations for inclusion
in these three categories:
- Religious Pluralism and a Civil Society
- Religious Liberty and Nonreligion
- Religion and Public Education
Teaching About Religion
in support of civic pluralism