HIstorical Progression and Changing Role of Religion in Education

  • First school in America

    The first publicly supported schools in America were established due to religious motives in 1647, when Massachusetts legislature enacted the famous "old Deluder Satan" Act. The act required the establishment and support of schools in towns of 50 or more families to teach children to read and write. A person could achieve salvation and delude Satan only by being able to read the Bible.
  • The First Amendment

    The First Amendment, enacted in 1791, specified that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
  • 14th Amendment

    The Supreme Court held that the fundamental concept of "liberty" embodied in the 14th Amerndment incorporates the guarantees of the First Amendment and safeguards them against state interference.
  • To salute or not to salute?

    The Supreme Court made it clear in 1943 in West Virginia v. Barnette that students may not be required to salute the flag if they object to it on the basis of religion or conscience.
  • Everson v. Board of Education

    Everson v. Board of Education was the first major establishment clause decision, wherein the Court held that the government cannot aid any one religion or even all religions, but instead must be neutral toward religion.
  • Accommodating Religious Beliefs

    The practice of setting aside time in school during school hours for religious instruction.
  • Release time

    "release-time"is where religious education and instruction takes place off school grounds.
  • School-sponsored prayer ends

    In the early 1960s, the Supreme Court declared that school-sponsored prayer and/or Bible reading violated the establishment clause.
  • Eperson v. Arkansas

    The U.S. Supreme Court struck down an Arkansas antievolution statute under the establishment clause, holding that evolution theory is a science and a state cannot restrict such teaching in favor of a religious preferece.
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman

    In 1971, the Supreme Court announced a three-part test to evaluate establishment clause claims in Lemon V. Kurtzman. The government action of policy must (1) have a secular purpose, (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor impedes religion, and (3) avoid excessive entanglement of government with religion. This test was used consistently until 1992.
  • Wisconsin v. Yoder

    The best known case involving a free exercise claim involved the Amish where, in Wisconsin V. Yoder, the Court exempted the children from school attendance after successful completion of eighth grade.
  • The posting of the Ten Commandments

    IN 1985, the Supreme Court declared a Kentucky law unconstitutional that required the posting of the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms.
  • MOzert v. Hawkins Cnty. Bd. of Educ.

    Parents were unsuccessful at having their childre excused from reading a basal reading series in the lementary schools in a Tennessee school district.
  • Lee v. Weisman

    IN Lee v. Weisman, the Rhode Island school district declared the invitation of invocations and benedictions at graduate ceremonies unconstitutional because it violated the establishment clause.
  • Altman v. Bedford Cent. Sch. Dist.

    A New York case ruled in favor of parents who asserted that parts of a reading program (Harry Potter) offended their Catholic faith.