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Hardly a week goes by without some newspaper or press service reporting about pending court cases on religion in the public schools. Michigan, North Dakota, Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Colorado: all have been in the news over this issue. The list is not exhaustive.

Pollsters know that among young people, interest in religion has increased noticeably in the last five years. And that interest often begins in high school, where the legal battles—even 16 years after the landmark Supreme Court decision on prayer and Bible reading—continue to be fought.

Is it legal to teach the Bible in public schools? If so, how? Is it actually being done? What is the latest legal opinion on the subject? Should evangelicals get involved in the fray? Dare we leave it to the secularists? To answer these and other questions at the start of a new school year, CHRISTIANITY TODAY editor at large Cheryl Forbes interviewed Jon T. Barton, a former English teacher at Santa Monica High School, an evangelical, a curriculum consultant in “religion studies,” and an expert witness in the most important legal case on Bible teaching in the public schools in 16 years, the Chattanooga case. Schools on Fire, which he wrote with lawyer John Whitehead, is to be published this fall by Tyndale. To evangelicals, the study of the Bible in the classroom is one of the most important issues in public education today. (Of greater importance to many are questions of the moral influence of teachers on students in lower grades and the impact made by doctrinal theories propounded by teachers in upper grades.) In the following edited version of the interview transcript, we present both information and, we hope, a ...

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