Religion in the Schools

September 12, 1947

Report Outline
Reemergence of Religious Issues in Education
Questions for Decision in Church-School Controversy
Present Status of Church-School Relations
Place of Religion in American Education

Reemergence of Religious Issues in Education

Edution and the Separation of Church and State

Inter-Church harmony in the United States is being seriously jeopardized by controversy over the place of religion in the American system of education. A Catholic prelate has pointed to Protestant agitation of the church-school issue as evidence that “bigotry once again is eating its way into the vital organs of the greatest nation on the face of the earth.” A prominent Protestant editor has replied that Catholic demands in the field of education are threatening “a religious war in this country.”

Two broad questions are raised in the present controversy: (1) Should parochial and other denominational schools receive support, in whole or in part, from public funds? (2) Should religious instruction be given in the public schools or under public-school auspices? Neither of these questions is new. Both were debated in connection with the great mass education movement of the last century, Bitter sectarian strife at that time led most states to adopt positive prohibitions against the use of tax funds for sectarian purposes and against religious teaching in the public schools.

Each of the religious issues now in process of revival involves basic considerations of church-state relationships. American Catholics and non-Catholics have never been in full agreement on the principle of separation of church and state. The extreme form of separation which has been traditional in the United States is an essentially Protestant conception and has recently been described by a leading Catholic churchman as “fantastic and un-American.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Religion and Schools
Dec. 20, 2002  Charter Schools
Feb. 15, 2002  School Vouchers Showdown
May 04, 2001  Faith-Based Initiatives
Jan. 12, 2001  Religion in Schools
Apr. 09, 1999  School Vouchers
Jul. 18, 1997  School Choice Debate
Feb. 18, 1994  Religion in Schools
May 10, 1991  School Choice
Aug. 16, 1983  School Prayer
Apr. 20, 1979  Private School Resurgence
Sep. 02, 1967  Private Schooling
Sep. 12, 1947  Religion in the Schools
Education Policy
Private Schools and Home Schooling
Religion and Politics