Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bible in Public School

Another blog I have found most useful is by Religion Clause by Howard Friedman, a law professor at the University of Toledo. He collects news bits about church/state issues & gives a quick overview each day. Good stuff.

What he posted today was just an incredible find: Historian Discusses Early School Bible Reading Case. Wow. This is an hour long discussion on the The Cincinnati Bible War Case of 1873.

Never heard of it? Nor had I but this had a real impact on how we perceive the relationship between faith & our public schools today.

A video of the full presentation is online. The Court's press release on the Forum summarizes the history:
Amid the increasing diversity and pluralism of the post-Civil War era, the Cincinnati public schools were faced with a growing Catholic population unhappy that their children were instructed with the protestant version of the Bible. The school board’s solution to remove all bibles from the classroom erupted into a raging national controversy over the relationship between religion and government. In 1873, the Ohio Supreme Court put an end to the Cincinnati Bible War, upholding the board’s decision to end Bible reading in its schools.

Get a load of this legal argument to remove Bible readings from the public schools. Now remember, this was in 1873, but I swear it sounds like arguments made today:

Counsel say that to withdraw all religious instruction from the schools would be to put them under the control of "infidel sects." This is by no means so. To teach the doctrines of infidelity, and thereby teach that Christianity is false, is one thing; and to give no instructions on the subject is quite another thing. The only fair and impartial method, where serious objection is made, is to let each sect give its own instructions, elsewhere than in the state schools, where of necessity all are to meet; and to put disputed doctrines of religion among other subjects of instruction, for there are many others, which can more conveniently, satisfactorily, and safely be taught elsewhere.

I plan on delving into this one on the weekend. Here is the LEXIS link to full opinion.

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