Guest / Limited Access /


The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine
Our Rating
not rated  
Book Title
The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine
Oxford University Press
Release Date
February 1, 2012

For many Christians, nothing better signals secularism's triumph than the banishment of formal prayer and Bible reading from America's public schools. When the Supreme Court evicted God from the classroom, they say, the education system—indeed, the entire society—lost its moral bearings and started sliding swiftly downhill.

Such laments suggest a nation abruptly sundered from its Christian heritage. Generations of students contentedly recite their prayers and Scripture passages, and then, in a flash, a handful of judicial tyrants intervene to scuttle a beloved tradition. Steven K. Green, director of the Center for Religion, Law, and Democracy at Willamette University, shows otherwise in his new book, The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash That Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine (Oxford University Press). Vigorous debates over religion in public schools, it turns out, have a history nearly as long as the schools themselves. And dissatisfaction with the privileged place of Christianity long predates the early 1960s.

Nineteenth-century pioneers of "common" schooling sought to unify a pluralistic populace around democratic principles. In this task, they reckoned Christianity a valuable ally. But how to harness the faith's virtue-generating potential without sowing sectarian strife? Green identifies two safeguards that formed an emerging consensus. Christian doctrine—in theory, the beliefs shared by all denominations—would serve as an instrument not of conversion but of character formation. And no public funding would go to Catholic parochial schools or to other church-based alternatives.

Were the "nonsectarian" and "no-funding" principles compatible with a pervasively Protestant public school ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Browse All Book Reviews By:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedSorry 666: Churches Fear 990 More
Sorry 666: Churches Fear 990 More
How more ministries going digital could unwittingly aid atheists targeting church tax breaks.
TrendingIntroducing the Bible! Now with Less!
Introducing the Bible! Now with Less!
Delete the chapter and verse numbers. Kill all the notes. Make it one column. Make a million bucks.
Editor's PickWater Works: Why Baptism Is Essential
Water Works: Why Baptism Is Essential
Some churches say Baptism is optional, but the New Testament teaches it is integral to the life of faith.
Christianity Today
Schoolhouse Divided
hide thisFebruary February

In the Magazine

February 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.