The Supreme Court is hearing arguments this week on the issue of Bible reading and recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in the public schools.

That public schools do not exist for the conduct of religious exercises is becoming increasingly clear. We do not, therefore, think that a Supreme Court decision along the lines of the earlier New York Regents prayer ruling—which prohibited government-approved or government-sponsored religious exercises—will stir as wide a demand for a Christian Amendment as happened a year ago. We cannot complain at one moment, with an eye on the proper use of public funds, that sectarian schools obviously create a worship atmosphere not possible in public schools, and contend at another moment, with an eye on spiritual imperatives, that public and parochial schools must preserve an identical atmosphere.

The public schoolroom in a republic dedicated to separation of church and state should be used for evangelistic purposes by neither Protestant, Catholic, nor Jew; by neither atheist nor theist; nor by the die-hard humanists who still propagate John Dewey’s outmoded philosophy.

But the public schools, if they take their academic mission seriously, do exist for the pursuit of the whole truth. And that pursuit includes an understanding both of the distinctive convictions that historically underlie Western culture and of the vision of life held by the colonists and the founding fathers. (See the editorial feature, “Bible Reading in the Public Schools,” pp. 31, 32, this issue, for a background report.)

Those who fear a trend toward secularism in our public institutions have every cause for alarm. If the Supreme Court rules against Bible reading under all circumstances in the public schools, or if it acts against ...

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

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

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.