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University of Maryland School of Law




The current state of religion in the nation's public schools is odd indeed. On the one hand, the courts have consistently held that public school teachers may not lead their students in an organized prayer. Yet on the other hand, most people seem to agree that there is no problem with those same teachers leading their students in the Pledge of Allegiance, an exercise that asks students on a daily basis, not only to explicitly recognize the existence of a single god, but also to link the nation's very identity to that highly contested theological proposition. Likewise, despite the fact that the courts have unanimously rejected attempts by state and local educational authorities to alter their science curricula to achieve religious purposes, school boards around the country continue to take constitutionally questionable steps to undermine the presentation of evolution, perhaps the most central and robust theory in all of biology. Even where school boards fail to take explicit steps to curtail the teaching of evolution, reports suggest that science teachers self-censor and teach less evolution (if any) than they should. Finally, although it is often said that schools should teach their students the knowledge and information they need to participate intelligently in the nation's public affairs, these schools often fail to teach students anything at all about religion, despite its obvious importance and prevalence not only within our borders, but around the world as well.



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