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Religious & Academic Freedom in the Classroom
posted by: Cindy Omlin | November 09, 2017, 07:09 PM   

Religious freedom is a hot topic as the courts work on determining its limits. Likewise, teachers are finding their academic freedom is often threatened as they confront tensions and conflicts when teaching about religious holidays and the role of world religions in shaping our culture and world.

President Bill Clinton's Secretary of Education, Richard W. Riley, noted in a speech that when studying art or music, a teacher may objectively discuss, perform, critique, and overview religious music, composition, and history. Furthermore, he pointed out that geography, sociology, mathematics, physics, science, English, spelling, history, and other topics cannot be adequately discussed without also objectively overviewing religion and religious influences.

As Michael M. Clarke, associate professor of English at Chicago's Loyola University wrote in the America: "Intellectual integrity and distinction require that we include the religious element of human life in our teaching and scholarship [...] we owe it to our students to ensure that they are cognizant of the place of religion and understand its concepts. This is not proselytizing. It is good scholarship - and true education."

The First Amendment Center offers this Teachers Guide to Religion in the Public Schools.

Gateways to Better Education (GTBE) offers teachers suggestions related to their religious and academic freedom here.

The article Integrating Faith in Public Schools without Mixing Church and State gives teachers the support they need to teach their state academic standards on the Bible and Christianity. It describes the difference between teaching about religion and the teaching of religion.

Contact NWPE if you have questions or concerns. We're here to help.

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