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American Association of School Administrators

If your school district is concerned about appropriate ways to include teaching about religions in your school curriculum, here are some important considerations:

  • The study of religions in public schools is permitted by the Constitution as long as the subject matter is presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.
  • Teachers of religion courses should be sensitive to varying beliefs of their students.
  • The First Amendment does not forbid all mention of religion in the public schools. It does prohibit the advancement or inhibition of religion.
  • Public schools are not required to delete from their curriculum materials that may offend any religious sensibility.
  • The decision to include -- or exclude -- material from the curriculum must be based on secular, not religious, reasons.
  • The material must be presented objectively.
  • Religion should be taught with the same care and discipline as other academic courses.
  • Schools should be especially sensitive to the developmental differences between elementary and secondary school students. Subjects or teaching methods that may be appropriate for secondary students may not be appropriate for younger children.

     -- quoted from The Great Quotations On Religious Freedom compiled by Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr.

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The American Baptist Bill of Rights

Believing religious liberty to be not only an inalienable human right, but indispensable to human welfare ... Baptists condemn every form of compulsion in religion or restraint of the free consideration of the claims of religion.
-- The American Baptist Bill of Rights. The Road to Freedom of Religion, 1944 Rufus W Weaver (ed.) pp. 17-18 (This statement was approved by four US Baptist denominations in 1939. Quoted from The Great Quotations On Religious Freedom compiled by Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr.)

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American Jewish Congress

 

The principle of separation of church and state as a foundation of our constitutional system has always meant that religion is outside the recognition and sphere of the political government and that the state has no constitutional power to enter alliances with churches and other religious bodies.
-- November 19, 1951, quoted from The Great Quotations On Religious Freedom compiled by Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr.

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American Lutheran Church

Laws mandating voluntary prayer in the public schools are unnecessary. Moreover, were the state to mandate such prayer, it would be no longer genuinely voluntary ... Devotional exercises to cultivate and nurture the religious faith of young people do not belong in the schools, but in the home and the church.
-- Resolution adopted, October 1984, quoted from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Americans for Religious Liberty

We believe in the American tradition of religious and intellectual freedom within a secular democratic state. We believe in the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison which gave birth to this tradition. We believe in the American Constitution and the Bill of Rights which make it the law of the land.
     In this time of political, religious and moral confusion we re-affirm our commitment to this tradition and call upon all Americans to do the same.

A free and secular democratic state guarantees religious liberty. It guarantees equal freedom to the religious and the non-religious. It makes religious faith a private matter and gives no special privileges to any religious idea or practice. Both prayers sponsored by public schools and public aid to private schools are violations of its integrity.
     A free and secular democratic state promotes good citizenship. It fosters respect for the law and respect for the rights and dignity of all citizens. It establishes a free and religiously neutral system of public education. It provides for moral instruction in the public schools through the use of reason and common sense. It encourages religious and other private institutions to reinforce these values in accordance with their own religious beliefs.
     A free and secular democratic state values education in science. It recognizes that a strong country needs citizens who are trained in the methods of science and makes it available through public institutions. Since it protects the integrity of science and free inquiry it refuses to allow public school classrooms to be used for religious indoctrination. It especially defends the integrity of modern biology. The evolution of life is science. It is more than speculation. It is an established truth, which over one hundred years of biological research has confirmed.
     A free and secular democratic state supports intellectual freedom. It encourages free speech and open discussion. It recognizes that creative and useful ideas emerge from controversy. It protects public schools and public libraries from arbitrary censorship.
     A free and secular democratic state secures personal freedom and privacy. It defends the individual against the tyranny of transient majorities or determined minorities. It allows all people to follow their own consciences and restrains them only when they harm the public welfare. It makes abortion and sexual behavior between consenting adults issues of personal choice.
     A free and secular democratic state provides equal dignity for all. It refuses to place any ethnic, racial, religious, sex or age limitation on the enjoyment of rights and privileges. It deplores any effort to deny women equal status with men.
     A free and secular democratic state defends the independence of its court system. It resists any attempt to strip the courts of their authority to review controversial legislation. It affirms the truth that a good democracy is a constitutional democracy.
     A free and secular democratic state is the traditional American guarantee of religious, intellectual and moral freedom.
     In a world where many voices of extremism seek to subvert freedom, we need to be voices of reason and to rally to its support.
     -- Statement of Principles, 1982, from Menendez and Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Central Conference of American Rabbis

Religion flourishes best when it is free of political alliances.
-- 1962, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

We believe that in any decision whether or not to terminate pregnancy, the individual family or woman must weigh the tradition as they struggle to formulate their own religious and moral criteria to reach their own personal decision ... We believe that the proper locus for formulating these religious and moral criteria and for making this decision must be the individual family or woman and not the state or other external agency.
     As we would not impose the historic position of Jewish teaching upon individuals nor legislate it as normative for society at large, so we would not wish the position of any other group imposed upon the Jewish community or the general population.
     We affirm the legal right of a family or a woman to determine on the basis of their or her own religious and moral values whether or not to terminate a particular pregnancy. We reject all constitutional amendments which would abridge or circumscribe this right.
     -- quoted from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

 

 
On Creationism in School Textbooks

Whereas the principles and concepts of biological evolution are basic to understanding science; and
     Whereas students who are not taught these principles, or who hear "creationism" presented as a scientific alternative, will not be receiving an education based on modern scientific knowledge; and
     Whereas these students' ignorance about evolution will seriously undermine their understanding of the world and the natural laws governing it, and their introduction to other explanations described as "scientific" will give them false ideas about scientific methods and criteria,
     Therefore be it resolved that the Central Conference of American Rabbis commend the Texas State Board of Education for affirming the constitutional separation of Church and State, and the principle that no group, no matter how large or small, may use the organs of government, of which the public schools are among the most conspicuous and influential, to foist its religious beliefs on others;
     Be it further resolved that we call upon publishers of science textbooks to reject those texts that clearly distort the integrity of science and to treat other explanations of human origins for just what they are -- beyond the realm of science;
     Be it further resolved that we call upon science teachers and local school authorities in all states to demand quality textbooks that are based on modern, scientific knowledge and that exclude 'scientific' creationism;
     Be it further resolved that we call upon parents and other citizens concerned about the quality of science education in the public schools to urge their Boards of Education, publishers, and science teachers to implement these needed reforms.
     -- 95th Annual Convention, 1984, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Cincinnati Board of Education

Religious instruction and the reading of religious books, including the Holy Bible, are prohibited in the common schools of Cincinnati. The children of the parents of all sects and opinions, in matters of faith and worship, are to enjoy alike the benefit of the common school fund.
-- Resolution, 1869, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

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Episcopal Church

We insist that the use of religious radio and TV and local pulpits in support of particular candidates in the name of God distorts Christian truth and threatens American religious freedom.
     Our refusal to entangle religion in partisan politics, and our wariness of contemporary movements that do, is rooted in a wise American tradition of avoiding the almost certain risk of political tyranny in the name of God.
     -- House of Bishops, pastoral letter, October 8, 1980

     Whereas, the state legislatures of several states have recently passed socalled "balanced treatment" laws requiring the teaching of "Creation-science" whenever evolutionary models are taught; and
     Whereas, in many other states political pressures are developing for such "balanced treatment" laws; and
     Whereas, the terms "Creationism" and "Creation-science" as understood in these laws do not refer simply to the affirmation that God created the Earth and Heavens and everything in them, but specify certain methods and timing of the creative acts, and impose limits on these acts which are neither scriptural nor accepted by many Christians; and
     Whereas, the dogma of "Creationism" and "Creation-science" as understood in the above contexts has been discredited by scientific and theologic studies and rejected in the statements of many church leaders; and
     Whereas, "Creationism" and "Creation-science" is not limited to just the origin of life, but intends to monitor public school courses, such as biology, life science, anthropology, sociology, and often also English, physics, chemistry, world history, philosophy, and social studies; therefore be it
     Resolved, that the 67th General Convention affirm the glorious ability of God to create in any manner, whether men understand it or not, and in this affirmation reject the limited insight and rigid dogmatism of the "Creationist" movement, and be it further
     Resolved, that we affirm our support of the sciences and educators and of the Church and theologians in their search for truth in this Creation that God has given and intrusted to us; and be it further
     Resolved, that the Presiding Bishop appoint a Committee to organize Episcopalians and to cooperate with all Episcopalians to encourage actively their state legislators not to be persuaded by arguments and pressures of the "Creationists" into legislating any form of "balanced treatment" laws or any law requiring the teaching of "Creation-science."
     -- 67th General Convention, 1982

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 • National Research Council
 • American Association for the Advancement of Science
 • National Science Teachers Association

The Kansas standards effectively eliminated consideration of any aspects of evolution that examine the origins of the Earth and life and processes that may give rise to the formation of new species ... (and) adopted a position that is contrary to modern science.
-- joint statement in response to the Kansas Board of Education's 1998 move to restrict the teaching of evolution and to promote biblical creationism, quoted from Morris Sullivan. "CREATIONISM: Monkeying With Science Education," in Impact Press (December, 1999-January, 2000)

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National Academy of Sciences

Many scientific explanations have been so thoroughly tested and confirmed that they are held with great confidence. The theory of evolution is one of these well-established explanations. An enormous amount of scientific investigation since the mid-19th century has converted early ideas about evolution proposed by Darwin and others into a strong and well-supported theory. Today, evolution is an extremely active field of research, with an abundance of new discoveries that are continually increasing our understanding of how evolution occurs.
-- statement in response to the Kansas Board of Education's 1998 move to restrict the teaching of evolution and to promote biblical creationism, quoted from Morris Sullivan. "CREATIONISM: Monkeying With Science Education," in Impact Press (December, 1999-January, 2000)

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