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Religion and public education

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Religion and public education controversy in America's classrooms
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Martin, Michael Dennis
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English
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ix, 121 leaves : forms ; 29 cm

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Religion in the public schools -- United States ( lcsh )
Religion in the public schools -- Colorado ( lcsh )
Religion in the public schools ( fast )
Colorado ( fast )
United States ( fast )
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bibliography ( marcgt )
theses ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )

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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 115-121).
General Note:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, Master of Arts, Political Science.
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Department of Political Science
Statement of Responsibility:
Michael Dennis Martin.

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University of Colorado Denver
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ocm34375928
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Full Text
RELIGION AND PUBLIC EDUCATION:
CONTROVERSY IN AMERICA'S CLASSROOMS
by
Michael Dennis Martin
B.A., Colorado State University, 1991
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
Political Science
1995


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Michael Dennis Martin
has been approved for the
Department of
Political Science
by


Martin, Michael Dennis (M.A., Political Science)
Religion and Public Education: Controversy in America's
Classrooms
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Thaddeus Tecza
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this thesis was to examine and
investigate the religion and public education controversy
in the United States. Viewpoints regarding this issue are
divided into two sides. First, religious proponents say
that religion, particularly Christianity, should have a
strong role in public school education. They assert that
a secular dogma dominates the classroom, negating all
aspects of religious/Christian principles. Religious
advocates claim that this disregard is a threat,
misinterprets the First Amendment of the Constitution,
and ignores the growing population of religious America.
On the other side, secular proponents believe in
separation of church from public-school education. They
allege that the influence and pressure by Religious Right
groups is, in fact, destroying public education. Secular
advocates insist that censorship is wrong, that
Christianity cannot be the only recognized religion in
the classroom, and that public school curricula must
emphasize diversity, the world, and real-life situations.
After reviewing literature and the arguments made by
iii


both sides, I attempted to survey public school teachers
and administrators from two Colorado communities. The
purpose here was to gain insight, and compare and
contrast how those on the "frontlines" view the
controversy. However, due to the nature of the topic --
which was judged as inflammatory -- the survey could not
be conducted.
To compensate for the loss of field data, I reviewed
textbooks from middle/junior high schools in Boulder and
Colorado Springs, Colorado. From my review, I found that
issues disturbing to both sides were evident. Regarding
my review of Social Studies textbooks, I found that
religious issues were presented very similarly in both
districts. In my review of Science textbooks, Boulder's
texts did give more detailed explanations of the
evolution theory and had more coverage about sexual
education. Most important, from the review it can be
postulated that both school districts tend to have a
curricula that is more secular than religious.
Finally, I summarized what many academics, teachers,
administrators, and parents now advocate. That is for
both sides to work towards reaching common ground so that
peace between adversaries may be attained. The hope here
is to alleviate the ever-growing tensions that the
controversy creates.
iv


This abstract accurately represents the content of the
candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication.
v


Dedicated to Mom and Dad
vi


CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION ..............................1
Purpose of study .....................3
Arrangement of thesis ...........4
2. LEGAL PRECEDENTS ..........................7
3. THE RELIGIOUS VIEWPOINTS: ARGUMENTS
ADVOCATING MORE RELIGION IN THE AMERICAN
CLASSROOM ................................. 12
The United States: A Christian
Nation ................................15
Historical and Supreme Court
Misinterpretations ....................18
The Threat of Secular Humanism as a
Religion ..............................23
The Silent Majority ...................29
Summary ...............................31
4. SECULAR VIEWPOINTS: ARGUMENTS
ADVOCATING LESS RELIGION IN THE
AMERICAN CLASSROOM .........................33
Separation Above All Else: Historical
Contentions ...........................35
Combatting a Growing Opposition .......38
Evidence of Religious Influence .......41
Censorship .......................43
The Religious Right's Intolerant
Campaigns ........................46
vii


Additional Intolerant Attacks ...49
Attacks on Teachers .........49
Attacks on School Reform ...50
The Revived School Prayer
Movement ....................51
Pressures From Organizations
with Hidden Agendas .........52
Summary ...............................56
5. RESEARCH METHODS FOR SURVEYING THE VIEWPOINTS
OF COLORADO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS .........58
Two Increasingly Diametric Colorado
Communities ...........................59
Survey Research Samples ...............61
Survey Methods ....................... 65
Survey Questions ......................65
Summary................................68
6. ADDITIONAL RESEARCH OF COLORADO
PUBLIC SCHOOLS: TEXTBOOK REVIEW ............70
Textbook Adoption in Colorado .........71
Social Studies Textbooks .........72
Science Textbooks ................73
Textbook Review Methodology............74
Findings: Social Studies Textbooks ... 75
Sixth Grade Social Studies
Textbook Reviews .................76
Seventh Grade Social Studies
Textbook Reviews .................78
Eighth Grade Social Studies
Textbook Reviews .................80
viii


Findings: Science Textbooks ..........83
Sixth Grade Science Textbook
Reviews .........................85
Seventh Grade Science Textbook
Reviews .........................87
Eighth Grade Science Textbook
Reviews .........................90
Summary ..............................91
7. CONCLUSION ................................96
Common Ground.........................100
APPENDIX A. U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT POLL ......103
APPENDIX B. CHALLENGES TO EDUCATION/CENSORED
BOOKS ................................105
APPENDIX C PROPOSED RESEARCH APPLICATION/
SURVEY ...............................106
BIBLIOGRAPHY ...................................115
COURT CASES ....................................121
ix


CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
There's no question that for United States citizens,
the role of religion in society is a significant concern.
This is more true today than ever before. By one count, the
nation has 86 religious denominations with memberships
greater than 50,000. Together those memberships number
nearly 140 million. In addition to these are hundreds of
smaller sects (Hitz and Butterfield 1994).
As the number of various religions and spiritual
groups (both organized and not) escalates, complexity
develops posing a threat to society and its public
institutions. Different viewpoints incite debate. The point
of controversy has opposing groups and individuals vying
for their convictions to be heard and implemented. Nowhere
is this more apparent than in today's public school
classroom.
Controversy over the role of religion in public
education has been permanent throughout United States
history, and even before that in colonial America. Tension
1


resulting from the issue is due, in large part, to it being
a dispute over American tradition. In fact, the influence
that religion has in the United States is a cornerstone of
our democracy. Concerns over religion's proper role worked
to divide colonies according to denomination in the 1600s,
in the 1700s, religious liberty was written into two
clauses of the Constitution; religious ideologies spawned
the Great Awakening and fostered an enlightenment era in
the 1800s; and in the 1900s religious issues became a major
point of debate in presidential elections. Today, the
issue's prevalence in social and political arenas has
defined a sharp line between convictions of the liberal
left and those of the conservative right. Each is fighting
for the promotion of a specific set of beliefs. An example
of the issue's importance can be demonstrated with an
excerpt from a recent speech by Speaker of the House, Newt
Gingrich concerning Supreme Court decisions banning prayer
in public schools.
The Supreme Court's school prayer decisions were bad
law, bad history, and bad culture. It was just wrong
... And if the court doesn't want to reverse itself,
then we have an absolute obligation to pass a
constitutional amendment to instruct the court on its
error (Heritage Foundation Speech, October 5, 1994).
In opposition to this, a sentiment noted by religion and
education writer Franklin Parker, regarding textbook
2


censorship in 1975 remains applicable today:
The country is experiencing a religious crusade as
fierce as any out of the Middle Ages...Our children
are being sacrificed because of the fanatical zeal of
our fundamentalist brothers who claim to be hearing
the voice of God. People are confused about everything
from marijuana to Watergate. Feeling helpless and left
out, they are looking for a scapegoat, eager to
exorcise all that is evil and foul, cleanse and burn
all that is strange and foreign. In this religious
war, spiced with overtones of race and class, the
books [and public school classroom] are an accessible
target (24-25).
Viewpoints like these have increasingly become common in
the debates over the role of religion in the classroom.
Battles involve not only politicians and public figures,
but also school board members, parents and parent-teacher
associations, teachers' unions, curriculum administrators,
as well as students themselves.
The conflict has, on one side, advocates calling for
a greater role for religion, particularly Christianity, in
public education. On the other side, proponents want less
of a role for religion, particularly Christianity, in the
classroom. This side doesn't necessarily want to do away
with the teaching of religion, but does believe that it
should be discussed in a context that doesn't promote or
proselytize. In light of this, the current challenge is to
understand the arguments fostering the tensions.
The primary goal of this thesis is to examine the
3


controversy and debate that is seemingly increasing with
each day's news. Chapter two summarizes the legal
precedents. Both sides of the argument regarding the role
of religion in public education are examined by means of a
literature review in chapters three and four. The
commentaries presented are supplemented with views of both
religious and secular proponents.1 Summaries of the
reasons behind particular viewpoints are presented. This
includes first, a look at how each side defines the
historical constructs used to support their opinions;
second, how each side defines the ultimate threat that
opposing views would have if they "won" the battle and had
their beliefs implemented into public school classroom
curricula; and third, the increased activity and influence
in the classroom that each side alleges of the other.
Additionally, an undertaking to research the
perceptions of Colorado public school teachers and
administrators was attempted and is outlined in chapter
five. Two communities were selected and a survey was
1 In the case of this study, religious advocates are most
often recognized as those groups and individuals
supporting Christian values and the "word" of the Bible,
while secular advocates are most often recognized as
secularists or church-state separationists those who
feel religious beliefs should not be promoted in the
classroom.
4


developed with the ultimate goal of assessing perceptions
and viewpoints. My research methodology guaranteed
anonymity to all subjects who participated and followed
guidelines for conducting outside research in the chosen
school districts. However, due to an unforeseen
circumstance, the survey could not be circulated. A full
account of the research attempt is summarized. The
relevance of showing the methodology and the survey is
important to this study. It breaks down the issue into
relative factors, signifies important concerns, and
highlights the comparable differences that play a role in
the controversy. Additionally, the survey itself outlines
the controversy's key issues -- prayer in public schools,
censorship, the evolution/creation argument, and the
relationship between church and state.
To strengthen my study, a brief textbook review was
completed and is summarized in chapter six. This
investigation examined whether or not religion or
secularism was part of the curricula, and to what extent.
The analysis examined textbooks used in six schools (three
in Boulder, Colorado, and three in Colorado Springs,
Colorado) in two subject areas. The purpose of this
investigation was to keep the original proposition of this
thesis, which was to incorporate a field examination of the
5


religion and public education issue in Colorado.
Finally, chapter seven summarizes the study and
presents various scholarly recommendations for establishing
a common ground between both sides.
6


CHAPTER TWO
LEGAL PRECEDENTS
To begin an examination of religion and public
education, a brief synopsis focusing on legal precedents is
needed. Most significant are the Establishment and Free
Exercise Clauses in the First Amendment of the
Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Today, over two-hundred years after the Constitution was
adopted, the meanings of these religious clauses are still
open to debate. Indeed, the ambiguity of both clauses has
resulted in numerous Court Cases.
Throughout the United States' history, religion was
indeed a fundamental and vital feature in the classroom.
Discrepancies over particular religious activities did
surface at times including Reynolds v. the United States
(1878), where the concept of "religion" -- albeit it
conventional or unconventional, secular or non-secular --
was entitled to constitutional protection. Also, in Pierce
7


v. The Society of Sisters (1925), the Court attempted to
delineate the proper relationship between government and
religion. It was in this case that the Court decided that
all Oregon children between the ages of eight and sixteen
had to attend Oregon public schools (Oregon's "Compulsory
Education Act") One more case was the 1925 Tennessee trial
of John Thomas Scopes. Here, Scopes, a twenty-four-year-old
biology teacher, was fined $100 for teaching the theory of
organic evolution. This decision made it illegal for any
public school teacher "to teach any theory that denies the
story of divine creation of man as taught in the Bible"
(Current, Williams, Freidel and Brinkley 1983, 728).
Most notable though was the Everson v. The Board of
Education (1947). It was here where the religion-and-
public-education issue gained national attention. The court
interpreted Thomas Jefferson's words, "...the clause
against the establishment of religion by law was intended
to erect a 'wall of separation between church and State'"
(Everson v. Board of Education) to mean that the
Establishment Clause, requires that all public
institutions, including public schools , be entirely
divorced from the sectarian influence that had caused the
civil strife in previous centuries (Tascano 1990).
Following, in the 1962 case Enale v. Vitale, the
8


Supreme Court struck down a twenty-two word,
nondenominational prayer written by the New York State
Board of Regents for official use in the classroom. The
prayer read: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence
on Thee, and we beg thy blessing upon.us, our parents, our
teachers, and our country" (quoted in Davis 1991, 73) .
Chief Justice Black, in his opinion, relied on history. He
inferred that the founding fathers did believe in prayer,
"but not prayer promulgated by civil authority" (quoted in
Davis 1991, 75).
In 1963 another case, the School District of Abincrton
Township v. Schempp. cautioned against not only the
establishment of religion but also the establishment of a
secular (non-religious) philosophy. The court said, "the
state may not establish a religion of secularism in the
sense of affirmatively opposing or showing hostility to
religion, thus preferring those who believe in no religion
with those who do believe" (Abincrton School District v.
Schempp. 374 U.S., 203 (1963)). So, say Hitz and
Butterfield (1994), the complexities of interpretation of
the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, is the basis
for all religion and public education conflicts. It works,
they say, to confuse the issue because it does not define
what is non-religious and anti-religious.
9


Other relevant court cases that followed included
Lemon v. Kurtzman. 403 U.S., 602 (1971), where the Supreme
Court formally set up a three-prong test to serve as a set
of guidelines in deciding Establishment Clause issues;
Wallace v. Jaffree. 105 S. CT. 2479 (1985), where the
Court, by a six to three margin, overturned an Alabama law
establishing a moment of silence in the state's public
schools (Alley 1994, 208); and Lee v. Weisman. which took
into consideration prayer and graduation ceremonies. This
court ruling stated:
The sole question presented is whether a religious
exercise may be conducted at a graduation ceremony in
circumstances where, as we have found, young graduates
who object are induced to conform. No holding by this
Court suggests that a school can persuade or compel a
student to participate in a religious exercise. This
is being done here, and it is forbidden by the
Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. For the
reasons we have stated, the judgement of the Court of
Appeals is Affirmed (Lee v. Weisman. United Law Week.
June 23, 1992, vol. 60, no. 50, p. 4723; in Alley
1994, 212).
Additionally, in August 1994, a Georgia school
suspended Social Studies teacher, Brian Brown, who refused
to honor a mandated voluntary "moment of silence" in his
classroom. Brown said that he felt the mandate violated the
principle of church and state (reported by Cable News
Network. August 23, 1994). And finally, in the recent Texas
case Jones v. Clear Creek Independent School District (977
10


F. 2cd., 963 (1994)), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
5th. District upheld a resolution permitting high school
seniors to designate a student volunteer to deliver a
nonsectarian prayer at graduation ceremonies. It is with
these cases in mind that I begin an examination and
investigation of the viewpoints of both sides of the
religion and public education controversy.
11


CHAPTER THREE
RELIGIOUS VIEWPOINTS: ARGUMENTS ADVOCATING MORE
RELIGION IN THE AMERICAN CLASSROOM
There is a significant number of Americans who feel
that today's public schools do not devote enough attention
to religion, particularly Christianity. And while not all
Christians agree with the following sentiments, there are
many who do. Arguments contend that public school
administrators and teachers plan curricula and conduct
classroom activities in an irreligious way and are many
times hostile toward any kind of religious expression.
This, religious advocates believe, has caused a loss of
social value among America's youth as well as rampant drug
use, teenage pregnancies, and an increase in criminal
activities both inside and outside schools (Falwell 1979).
In short, arguments suggest that the lack of a religious,
particularly Christian, element in the schools is causing
the failure of not only public schools but also society as
a whole.
Proponents of more religion in the classroom include
ultraconservative, conservative and moderate religious
12


groups and individuals. The reasons behind their pious
urges differ slightly. However, the idea that a strong
religious influence is needed in today's public school
system is predominant. Ultraconservative groups defend the
idea that the United States is a 'Christian nation'
(Robertson 1990). This concept posits that Christian
doctrine should be the fundamental element of society. Less
conservative groups and individuals, although not as
extreme, also feel that more religion should be
incorporated into all of society. They suggest that
classroom lessons and teaching should be in accord with
fundamental Christian principles. Some groups in this
category include Focus on the Family, based in Colorado
Springs, Colorado; The Christian Coalition, headquartered
in Chesapeake, Virginia; and, Citizens for Excellence in
Education in Costa Mesa, California. These groups say that
their religious views are by no means associated with
political intentions. Instead they are guided by concern
for what their children are being taught in public school
classrooms. Many maintain that there exists a secular bias
in today's schools which influences and controls all levels
of public education (Simonds 1994). This, they suggest is
contrary to traditional American education and history and
opposes what the writers of the Constitution intended.
13


Additionally, many Christian organizations assert that
secular teaching shifts curricula away from established
educational procedures, which have taken years to develop.
Arguments suggest that so-called "new teaching methods" are
increasingly being adopted by public schools across the
nation, and are working to further destroy what we have
left of moral values in America by not including God.
Where do the schools get such authority to deny the
teaching of America's religious traditions? From
misinterpretations of the First Amendment's religious
clauses by the Supreme Court, says Christian leader, Pat
Robertson. It is because of misinterpretation, say a
growing number of Robertson supporters, that students can't
organize student religious organizations on campus, are
denied the right to have prayer to start each school day,
and are punished for reading the Bible aloud on school
grounds -- things that are fundamental to being a good
Christian (Robertson 1990).
Finally, Christian proponents insist that an
increasing number of Americans are indeed either Christian
or religiously inclined and want more religion in the
classroom. This assumption is backed by information
revealed by Jeffery Sheller in a recent U.S. News & World
Report poll (1994). Sheller contends that religious
14


Americans at least want the right to express their
spiritual convictions in public and in the classroom.
Hence, proponents of more religion in the schools ask: Why
does the Supreme Court consistently rule against religious
teaching and activity when many Americans want a stronger
role for religion in society?
The United States: A Christian Nation
Often, the most vocal and strongest argument for more
religion in the classroom comes from Religious-Right
organizations. Groups here include Evangelical Christians,
who emphasize the absolute authority of the Bible;
Fundamentalists, who believe in the literal interpretation
of the Bible and stress personal salvation through Jesus
Christ; Charismatics, who stress the workings of the Holy
Spirit through faith healing; and Born-Again Christians,
who are people who have found new life in Jesus Christ and
could belong in any of the above categories (McCuen 1989).
Many of the people affiliated with these groups believe
that the United States is a 'Christian Nation' established
under the auspices of Christian morality. Additionally,
today's Religious Right leaders who push to incorporate
Christian curricula in public schools, attest that the men
who shaped the democratic and constitutional principles of
15


America were indeed solemn disciples of Christianity and
the Bible. They repeatedly contend that Christianity was an
essential factor in the political, social and educational
development of the United States (Boston 1993).
For example, Capps (1990) notes how the reverend Jerry
Falwell offered evidence that the signers of the
Declaration of Independence would have felt at home in his
church, the Thomas Road Baptist Church. Falwell goes on to
say that if George Washington were given the opportunity he
probably would have been one of the first to support an
effort like that represented by Falwell's religious
organization, the Moral Majority. Capps further notes how
Francis Schaeffer, one of the most influential conservative
Christian Right thinkers of today, rewrote Western
intellectual history to show the intertwined philosophies
of the teachings of the New Testament, the convictions of
the Founding Fathers and the motivations of the New
Christian Right. Additionally, Marty Martin and R. Scott
Appleby in their book The Glory and The Power (1992), note
how Bob Jones, a strict Christian fundamentalist, believes
that the Founding Fathers were much more concerned with
religion than with government or democratic principles.
Jones suggests that this is evidenced by the religious
expressions of God in the Declaration of Independence. And,
16


for his part, world famous televangilist Pat Robertson
tried to make a case that the early Virginia settlers who
landed at Jamestown would have no difficulty identifying
themselves with the religious viewpoint that is taught at
the Christian Broadcast Network University -- Robertson's
religious-political success story (Capps 1990).
These proponents of the 'Christian nation' concept
have a primary concern to get religion back into the
classroom (Fege 1994). Their fundamental and evangelical
tactics tend to be politically right-wing and
ultraconservative; however, their objections toward today's
public education system are similar to the wide spectrum of
other religious/Christian Americans (Molnar 1993).
Christian groups are growing and consistently challenging
what they believe to be an ever-growing Godless society.
Appalled by what they see as increasing secular and
humanistic dogma, they have focused their attention on
public school curricula, textbooks, and teaching methods.
They are calling for a massive movement in education to
reestablish a Christian foundation to turn the tide of
moral decay and loss of liberty and freedom. Their
political-religious writings, sermons and commentaries
profess the need for American society to morally repair
itself by adhering to the teachings of the Bible.
17


A sentiment by Jerry Falwell summarizes the viewpoints
of the ultra-conservative 'Christian nation' concept
regarding religion and education. In his book America Can
Be Saved (1979), Falwell stated:
One day, I hope in the next ten years, I can
trust that we will have more Christian day schools
than there are public schools. I hope I live to. see
the day when, as in the early days of our country we
won't have any public schools. The churches will have
taken them over again and Christians will be running
them. What a happy day that will be.
Associated with the "Christian nation" argument are
allegations that the Supreme Court has repeatedly
misinterpreted the First Amendment's meaning of separation
of church and state. This, religious advocates assert, is
particularly true in the case of the separation of
Christian doctrine from school curricula, which has
traditionally been a part of public classroom activities.
Historical and Supreme Court Misinterpretations
Related to the prior argument, proponents of more
religion contend first that America's historical records
reveal how religion was a primary part of the nation's
early public school curricula. Textbooks referred to God
and school days opened with religious admonitions followed
by the Lord's prayer, The Apostles' Creed, the Ten
18


Commandments, and the names of the books of the Bible
(Eastland 1981). Furthermore, the use of the McGuffev
Reader in classrooms throughout the new nation proved an
educational commitment to the learning of religious verses
of the Bible. The Reader emphasized the preservation of a
republican government along with "the moral order imposed
by the omnipotent will of a sovereign God" (Mosier 1947;
cited in Whitehead 1991, 42). Proponents submit that many
of the Founding Fathers who were architects of our American
government received the kind of education that the McGuffev
Reader exemplified (Whitehead 1991, 42).
Second, proponents of more religion in the classroom
argue that the Supreme Court has increasingly ruled in
favor of secular curricula, textbooks and lesson plans.
This, religious proponents claim, is based on a
misinterpretation of the Establishment and Free Exercise
clauses of the First Amendment (see page 7).
Reflecting on Everson v. The Board of Education. 330
U.S. 1, 91 L.Ed.711, 67 S.Ct.504 (1947), where the First
Amendment clauses came under intense scrutiny, Supreme
Court Justice Wiley Rutledge in 1947 said, "No provision of
the Constitution is more closely tied to or given content
by its generating history than the religious clauses of the
First Amendment" (Whitehead 1991, 39). In 1986, the
19


American Association of School Administrators (AASA) noted
that school sponsored prayer and Bible reading in the
classroom are the religious activities that have been the
greatest sources of litigation and public confusion
concerning the application of the religious clauses.
It is no surprise then that religious proponents have
vigorously argued against decisions based on, and
following, the 1947 Everson v. The Board of Education, as
well as the famous Encrle v. Vitale (370, U.S. 421, 8
L.Ed.2d. 601, 82 S.Ct. 1261; 1962). They suggest that, for
the most part, rulings have misinterpreted the separation
of church and state (public education being part of the
state). Instead, decisions have favored secular curricula,
teaching and activities. Whitehead (1991) suggests that
this is due to a number of constitutional commentators who
have, according to an interpretive "literalism" of the
First Amendment, read the history surrounding the
Constitution as supporting a "strict separationist" view of
church and state. This, explains Whitehead, contradicts
what the Supreme Court itself has warned against. That is,
that constitutional objectives must not be undermined by an
interpretive "literalness" (Walz v. Tax Commission. 397
U.S. 664, 671, 1970).
Religious proponents of the misinterpretation notion
20


also point out a statement by Justice William Brennan in
1963. In concurring with the Supreme Court's striking down
of state-mandated prayer and Bible reading in the public
schools, Brennan argued that constitutional history is of
limited use because "the historical record was 'ambiguous,'
the framers knew no system of universal public education.."
(Abington v^. Schempp. 374 U.S. 203, 10 L.Ed.2d. 844, 83
S.Ct. 1560, 1963) .
Additionally, Tascano (1990), suggests that the
courts, when deciding on church-state issues, have
misinterpreted the word establishment as well as
Jefferson's "wall of separation" notion. The modern Court,
Tascano notes, has not defined "establishment" as referring
to a state church or an institutional religion. Instead
establishment today means, "to promote, prefer or aid":
The establishment of religion' clause of the First
Amendment means at least this: Neither a state or a
Federal government can set up a church. Neither can
pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions or
prefer one religion over another (Everson v. Board of
Education 1947).
The Everson case, suggests Tascano, had changed the Federal
government's constitutional posture toward religion in
America. Additionally, it set precedents for court cases
that followed. Tascano and others have persistently argued
against every Supreme Court case ruling separating religion
21


from public education.
Whitehead (1977) notes that in cases regarding
religion in education the Courts have only focused on "the
impregnable wall" between church and state. He argues that
in Everson v. The Board of Education (1947), separation
meant that the government could not pass laws "that aid all
religions." According to Whitehead, nothing in the case
decision implied complete separation, or fully banned
religious activity in the classroom.
Finally, Molnar (1993) suggests that all court
decisions from 1947 to the present have been irreligious,
and misinterpret the First Amendment's religious clauses.
Molnar feels that Supreme Court rulings have created an
American public school system that embodies a
secular/humanist practice in which truth is not regarded as
absolute but as tentative and changeable in light of new
information. Subject to the discretion of non-religious
teachers, students are taught that God is not important,
that the role Christianity played in the development of the
United States is insignificant, and that the Federal
government holds truth in humanist principles, not
supported by any kind of divine truth. Accordingly, the
First Amendment's religious clauses are interpreted to mean
complete separation of church and state. This, say
22


religious advocates, is wrong, and they insist that the
First Amendment did not mean separation. As explained by
Chief Justice Rehnquist in Wallace v. Jaffree (105 S. Ct.
2479, 1985), the purpose of the Establishment Clause,
.... did not require government neutrality between
religion, nor did it prohibit the federal government
from providing nondiscriminatory aid to religion.
There is simply no historical foundation for the
proposition that the Framers intended to build the
"wall of separation" that was constitutionalized in
Everson [330 U.S. 1 (1947).]
The Threat of Secular Humanism as a Religion
Humanists are aggressive and evangelistic. They are
adept at tearing down traditional faith, even if it
means permitting the occult to enter the classroom.
They are skilled at pouring their anti-God dogmas into
the world (Gabler 1987, 362).
This sentiment shows what religious advocates feel is
the danger of secular humanism. Religious supporters claim
that attacks on Christian tradition have, in essence,
destroyed the American public school system. They have made
public education inept, and have put morality "on the
ropes,' notes Gabler (1987). "Secular humanism," says
Gabler, "...rejects biblical restraints on human
actions...They [humanists] believe that man (individually
or collectively), not God, determines values, and that
these values are based upon prevailing circumstances."
Gabler concludes that, "Humanists enthusiastically seek to
23


remake the world in man's image" (357).
The problem, notes leading Christian Right advocate
Tim LaHaye, is that the secular humanist philosophy
dominates, in particular, the content of material found in
public school textbooks. LaHaye (1983) identifies "nine
basic tenets of humanism found in children's textbooks."
These include:
1. evolutionary dogma (the idea that evolution is
unquestioned fact),
2. self-autonomy (the idea that children are their own
authorities),
3. situation ethics (the idea that there are no
absolutes),
4. Christianity negated (the idea that there is no
Supernatural),
5. sexual freedom (the idea that public sex education
is necessary, but without morals, etc.),
6. total reading freedom (the idea that children
should have the right to read anything),
7. death education (the idea that there is no hope
after death),
8. internationalism (the idea that world citizenship
is preferable to national patriotism),
9. socialism (the idea that socialism is superior to
private ownership).
Christian viewpoints suggest that these nine tenets and the
manner in which they are presented in the classroom are
indeed religious in nature, therefore making secular
24


humanism a religion, in and of itself (Simonds 1993).
Tascano (1990) further supports the theory that secularism
is a religion by outlining the basic conditions that it
contains. First, that secularism has an ethic which
maximizes human potential. Second, that secularism has
rituals which include the techniques of scientific
experimentation that seek to control natural and social
environments. Third, that secularism contains a priesthood,
consisting primarily of doctors, lawyers and social
scientists. And finally, that secularism embraces doctrines
which can be divided into religious categories including:
The secular cosmogony: The universe began by accident. The
"big bang" theory.
The secular cosmology: No supernatural natural order
exists. Humanity is the only intelligent life. Chance
rules, and the primary pattern in life is that of
emergent evolution.
The secular epistomolgy: The five human senses are the only
means by which knowledge or reality can be conveyed to
man's brain. All that cannot be gathered through he
senses and comprehended by reason is important in the
quest for truth.
The secular salvific vision: The purpose of human life for
us as individuals and groups is, first, to use our
intellectual, physical, rational, and emotional powers
to achieve for ourselves the best possible worlds here
and now through the acquisition of power, wealth,
celebrity, and pleasure; and second, to extend on an
equal basis, the full benefits of achievements to all
humans all while causing the least amount of damage
to the planet. This idea was expressed early in the
modern history of secularism by George Holyoake in
1897.
25


The secular eschatology: In the end all the achievements by
mankind will disappear into oblivion when all the
stars cool and all the lights go out. Therefore,
whatever meaning life has must be fashioned by us
(Tascano 1990, 42).
Additionally, further proof that secular humanism is
a religion was given by Education Research Analysts and its
founders Mel and Norma Gabler. They make note of two
references which imply that the Supreme Court did
specifically refer to secular humanism as a religion. The
first reference appeared in a footnote of the 1961 Torscano
v. Watkins case. It says, "Among religions in this country
which do not teach what would generally be considered a
belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism,
Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others (Torscano v.
Watkins, 367 U.S. 488, n. 11 at 495, 1961). And the other
is a second footnote referring to the first case (noted by
Jenkinson and the AASA 1986).
Religious proponents claim that the teaching of
secular humanism is most vividly seen in "real life" or
"critical discussion" periods. These kinds of classroom
activities have been, labeled as secular and "New Age" by
Christian organizations like Focus on the Family and
Citizens for Excellence in Education (Marzano 1994).
Against the will of Christian parents and students these
classroom activities, notes conservative Thomas Sowell
26


(1993), are psychological-conditioning programs imposed on
American school children. Most alarming is that these
conditioning techniques are not confined to separate
courses or programs but are present in academic subjects
like History and/or Social Studies. Topics that trouble
many conservative Christians include classroom discussions
of lifeboat dilemmas, where children are asked which family
member they would sacrifice; sex education including movies
showing sexual activities, or close-ups of childbirth;
nuclear education where, in one case, students were
required to write to the President of the United States
about nuclear issues; drug education; global education; the
study of socialism; the theory of evolution; and the look-
say method of reading (American Association of School
Administrators 1986).
Sowell (1993) notes that these and other secular
principles are taught by education leaders who intend to
mobilize school children for the political crusades of the
left. This political left, notes Sowell, is intolerant of
religious opinion. Today, he says, conservative parents
want the same respect given to liberal minded people. In
other words, they want their children to have the right to
express their religious convictions.
Religious advocates feel that questioning what they
27


refer to as liberal teaching methods is forbidden in most
instances. In a Washington Post article (March 10, 1986),
conservative columnist John Lofton notes the "gripe" of
conservative parents is that their children are denied
their First Amendment rights to exercise religious faith.
Instead, Christian children must participate in activities
that are, as suggested in prior arguments, secular and "New
Age." These curricula include the study of one world
government concepts and moral relativism, discussions of
private family matters, and talk about witchcraft,
Satanism, and anti-Americanism (Detwiler 1993). When a
Christian parent emphasizes concern over what is being
taught to his or her child, the education establishment
immediately yells "censorship," alleging that the Religious
Right is "taking over the schools" (Sowell 1993). This is
anything but true notes Ebert (1993). He contends that
religious parents are only worried that "...what their
children learn in school increasingly undermines their
moral belief system" (41).
In light of this, Religious Right organizations have
tried to ban or cancel student newspaper articles, plays,
and student magazines and publications. Most of the
accusations charge that material is "anti-Christian" or
endorses religions other than Christianity. The Christian
28


Coalition has put together two lists which names groups and
individuals that are anti-Christian and New Agers. Some of
those listed include the ACLU, National Organization for
Women, People for the American Way, Chrysler Corporation,
Mikahail Gorbachev, Mother Theresa, NAACP, United Nations,
The Muppets, and the University of Michigan. A similar list
shows New Age activities including pluralism, self-
realization, networking, world peace efforts, rosaries,
ending world hunger, globalism, creative visualization, the
environmental movement, and the information revolution
(Marzano 1993).
The Silent Majority
Current polls in U.S. News & World Report by Jeffery
Sheller (April 4, 1994), as well as by Nancy Gibbs in Time
Magazine (December 27, 1993), show American's growing
interest in religion. The polls point out the high
percentages of Americans who believe themselves to be
religious and emphasize that the majority of spiritual
believers belong to Christian denominations (see Appendix
A for U.S. News & World Report poll results). This silent
majority, explains religious advocate David Ruenzel (1993),
doesn't understand why they cannot hold some kind of prayer
in public schools. Obstructed by Court decisions, people
29


from towns across the nation are beginning to question
rulings mandating what can and cannot be expressed in the
classroom. A particularly significant debate has risen
regarding school-prayer issues. People have become
interested in the school-prayer issue because it represents
something much larger: a loss of vision and meaningful
values in our nation's classrooms (Ruenzel 1993).
In his article, Ruenzel references research from a
recent Reader's Digest poll which showed that seventy-five
percent of Americans favor prayer in the public schools. He
also notes that eighty percent disapprove of the Supreme
Court's ruling that it is unconstitutional for prayer to be
offered at public school graduations. A sentiment from
Michael Novak of the America Institute also conveys the
Court's disregard for America's religious citizenry: "The
cultural and political elites have simply ignored the
overwhelming support of the American people for voluntary
school prayer -- indeed, for the role of religion and faith
in the nations life" (noted in Ruenzel 1993, 31) .
Adding to this, many public figures that are not
necessarily religiously inclined have recently shown their
support for more religion in the classroom. Richard Ostling
(1993) reported on two high school students being shot and
seriously wounded, another student stabbed by a sixth grade
30


girl, an assistant principal punched in the face, and how
a policeman was assaulted by students in a District of
Columbia public school, all in one month's time. Mayor
Marion Barry, reflecting on the incidents, proposed a law
allowing students to lead nonsectarian classroom prayers.
"Maybe, just maybe, it will turn some of our values
around," he said. "We've lost our way" (63). Ostling goes
on to mention how grass-root campaigns to slip prayer back
in the classroom are becoming more prominent. In fact, says
Ostling, attention to the breakdown of the nation's moral
values has led to legislative activity. Georgia just passed
a law to permit moments of silence. Student-led prayers
have been approved in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and
Virginia. Similar legislation is under consideration in at
least six other states. And, both the House and the Senate
passed measures that would take away funds from public
schools that "forbid" voluntary prayer (Ostling 1994).
Summary
Arguments suggest that historically America was indeed
profoundly influenced by Christian beliefs. Our Founding
Fathers were religious men who held God at the center of
much of their everyday lives. This is evidenced by the
continued references to not only God, but also to Jesus
31


Christ and Christian denominational churches throughout the
colonial era and beyond.
Additionally, the concept of separation of church and
state may indeed be true in certain contexts of our society
according to law. However, as the evidence presented shows,
separation does not necessarily apply to religion and
public education. The relevance of this argument is so
apparent that the prayer in the classroom issue will, this
year, be a major focal point of debate between campaigning
presidential candidates. And if the contentions so far are
any indication of how those candidates feel regarding the
issue, it seems that many support bringing prayer back into
the classroom. This coincides with increasing national
support for those candidates who support more religion in
the classroom.
32


CHAPTER FOUR
SECULAR VIEWPOINTS: ARGUMENTS ADVOCATING
LESS RELIGION IN THE AMERICAN CLASSROOM
As there are Americans who feel that religion should
have a stronger role in the nation's public schools, there
are also those who argue against its presence. Non-
religious and secular proponents (as well as some
religious/Christian Americans) attest that separation is
needed between church and state and that if religion is
allowed to be influential in education, it will likely be
dominated by one faith, namely Christianity. Primarily,
this is due to the fact that there are more Christians in
the United States than there are members of other
religions. Hence, Christian principles imposed by Christian
leaders would govern what a teacher could teach, would have
a direct influence on curricula throughout the nation, and
would dictate what textbooks are used. This, secular
supporters say, would restrain discussions or teachings
about all the world's other religions. Additionally, it
would discriminate against both parents and students who
believe in faiths other than Christianity, or who don't
33


believe in religion. Furthermore, there are a wide variety
and range of Christian beliefs. The worry for many on this
side of the argument is that the religious beliefs of some
would be imposed upon all.
Most upsetting to secular proponents are the charges
condemning America's current education system. Non-
religious advocates and secular humanists claim that in the
last few years, public education has increasingly come
under fire for teaching Godless curricula. Some of these
critics are the same individuals and groups who oppose the
teaching of evolutionary science (which, secularists say,
promotes scientific thought in school children), and want
their conservative-fundamentalist Biblical view of morality
taught in all public school classrooms (Parker 1982). The
attacks, notes Jones (1993), have been designed to
discredit and dismantle the nation's public education
system.
Non-religious supporters, church-state separationists,
secular humanists, as well as many educators, commend Court
rulings that mandate separation, refuse public school
prayer, and call for less religion in the classroom.
Separation of church and state, proponents claim, is the
only true way to guarantee democracy and provide freedom to
all, young and old. These proponents argue that first,
34


American history is a testimony to the principle of
separation of church and state. Second, that the importance
the nation gives to individual freedom is like that given
by no other country. Third, that censorship in any form
denies all aspects to the right of freedom. And fourth,
that one governing religion or philosophy contradicts the
guarantee of liberty defined in the United States
Constitution.
Separation Above All Else: Historical Contentions
One of the strongest advocates of separation is
Madalyn Murray O'Hair. A self-proclaimed atheist, O'Hair's
campaign against organized religion began in the early
1960's, making her a leading figure in the prayer and
public education controversy. She contends that as a matter
of principle, organized religion prefers to maintain an
unchanged situation, in other words, a social condition
controlled by a church, with little or no change. This is
done primarily by "boycotting" non-religious literature,
art, and ideas, which creates a protected religious
atmosphere around the public school student (O'Hair 1974).
This, she suggests, represents an attempt to formulate an
ideological environment in which the child's mind will
respond in a manner favorable only to the teachings of a
35


particular religious sect. O'Hair emphasizes that this is
what the framers of the Constitution wanted to guard
against.
O'Hair suggests, "Historically, organized religion
was an encompassing force in each of the colonies, and the
dominant sects in any area were intolerant and used
education as an instrument to keep minds focused on a
particular brand of orthodoxy" (85) It was for these
reasons, she claims, that men like Thomas Jefferson and
James Madison consistently fought for separation between
church and state. O'Hair (1974) notes that as the nation
became increasingly populated, "Thomas Jefferson proposed
that public schools focus on the natural philosophy of an
education in chemistry, agriculture, natural history,
botany and the like" (86). This natural philosophy was
later emphasized by leading education reformist John Dewey
in the early 1900's. His naturalist view opposed
theological or metaphysical views and instead focused on
Biology and Science. Labeled "humanism," Dewey's theories
were further developed by other educators in following
years. By 1938 state education boards in New York,
Maryland, Ohio, Connecticut and Massachusetts began teacher
training to prepare humanist teachers through public
funding (O'Hair 1991).
36


However, much of the effort by non-sectarian and
secular advocates was to no avail. Ball (noted in Sizer
1967) notes that a problem for education in the nineteenth
century ..was appeasing both religious and non-religious
opponents. Hence, the dilemma was how to keep the schools
Protestant, the most influential Christian group at the
time, and still non-sectarian (52) Ball notes that,
"...Protestants solved their problem in a 'crude but
effective fashion' by permitting (or requiring) a commonly
Protestant religious infusion into the public schools and
pretended that it was non-sectarian" (noted in Sizer 1967,
15) This was only the beginning of a dilemma concerning
decisions on the extent of religious influence in
education.
In the years following, legal proceedings looked at a
number of "religion in the classroom" issues. And as the
courts continued their mode of "separation,1,2 dispute
against the rulings increased. O'Hair suggests that then
and now, allegations against secular humanist and atheistic
thought are professed by conservative, right-wing groups
and individuals whose main objective is to erode American 2
2 McCollum v. Board of Education [officially captioned
Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education] (1948),
Engle v. Vitale (1962), Abington School District v.
Schempp (1963).
37


liberty, control every aspect of American life, limit the
freedom of choice and even the access to information
regarding those choices (O'Hair 1974).
Many secularists, humanists, church-state
separationists, and others feel that it is of primary
importance to guard America's education system against
increasing religious onslaught. And though the Supreme
Court has consistently ruled in favor of separation, the
Religious Right's tactics, actions, and significant numbers
have to be watched, monitored and stopped (Hudson 1993).
Combatting a Growing Opposition
Though the Courts have ruled that the First Amendment
implies strict separation between church and state,
religious activism intensifies throughout all American
states. Porteous (1990) reports that The Coalition on
Revival (made up of 112 Christian leaders) is on a ten-year
plan to establish a Biblical world view in not only
education but also in law, government, economics, business,
arts and communication, medicine, psychology and
counseling, science and technology. Secularists contend
that other groups including Focus on the Family, Citizens
for Excellence in Education and the Forceful Men
Organization stop at nothing as they steam ahead with
38


righteous aspiration (Parker 1982) According to the
secularists, these groups contend that our nation is the
last hope and that God will use America as a missionary
base to save the rest of the world. Groups proclaim that
Jesus wants to come back to a church that is strong, pure,
militant -- and in control (Porteous 1990) Religious
leaders attest that they themselves must guide their flocks
to a devout, pious path in order to bring Christianity to
all the world's people.
In opposition, secular advocates maintain that the
Religious Right's rhetoric is nothing more than a means to
gain classroom control. In a recent public report, Michael
Hudson, vice president and general counsel of People for
the American Way's Boulder, Colorado Office, suggests that
though the Right's activities seem purely religious, they
are engaged in a number of issues, launching a "cultural
war between Judeo-Christian values and secular humanism"
(2) In essence, notes Hudson, Religious Right "movement
leaders" are conservative, social-political men who guide
their congregations to decide as they do on concerns
regarding choice and the rights of women, gays, education,
and freedom of speech (1994) These leaders include James
Dobson of Focus on the Family. He is the leader that Jerry
Falwell, after the dissolution of the Moral Majority, named
39


as the man who would carry the Religious Right's cultural
war into the 1990's. Another leader is Ralph Reed of
Virginia's Christian Coalition. It is Reed, notes Laurence
Stains (USA Weekend. September 16-18, 1994), who seems to
be putting the fear of God into Democrats and moderate
Republicans alike. His following is an estimated 700,000
due paying members and another 700,000 supporters who fund
a lobbying staff, get-out-the vote phone banks and millions
of voters-guides. Most significant, Hudson explains, is the
influence and censorship tactics fostered by these leaders
and by supportive religious segments of communities around
the nation. As reported by the Religious Right watchdog
organization, People for the American Way (1994), religious
groups primarily work on removing books such as The Wizard
Of Oz for glorifying witchcraft, and others for having non-
Christian content. (A list of the most frequently
challenged books follows in Appendix B.)
Defending the principle of separation between religion
and the public schools are groups like People for the
American Way (PAW) United America (UA) the American Civil
Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Biological Sciences
Curriculum Studies (BSCS), to name a few. These and others
fight to keep the public schools sovereign of sectarian-
dominated control. They maintain the constitutional right
40


of freedom of conscience and fight against censorship, bias
and discrimination by religious organizations, which they
feel directly affects social and academic freedom (Franklin
1982) .
Evidence of a Religious Influence
Americans United (AU) is an organization formed to
defend the principle of separation of church and state. The
group reports on religious trends that members feel defy
the First Amendment. AU suggests that the increasing
intolerance by religious organizations is eroding the
traditional American principle of separation and causing
strife not only in education but all of society. The group
noted four different categories of church-state conflicts
in a 1990 report. The conflicts included:
* Public Funding of Religious Organizations: The
United States has long followed a policy of refusing
to subsidize religious groups or their schools with
public money. Today this principal is being challenged
by some religious bodies and critics of the nation's
public education system. This category includes
funding for religious schools through vouchers,
tuition tax credits, bus transportation, textbooks and
loans, etc.
* Religion in the Public Schools: The religious
neutrality of America's public schools is under almost
constant attack, primarily by religious conservatives.
This category includes disputes over state-sponsored
school prayer, prayers before commencements and
football games, Bible distribution, religious
41


proselytism, "creation science," and the celebration
of religious holidays.
* State Endorsement of Religion: There are numerous
ways for government to unconstitutionally promote
religion. This category focused on some of them
including efforts to declare the United States a
"Christian Nation," state endorsement of religious
holidays and the display of religious symbols on
public property.
* Threats to the Free Exercise of Religion: Since the
right to practice religion is one of the most
cherished rights of the American people, there are few
outright attempts to ban or restrict religious
practices. Instead, free exercise threats tend to be
subtler. They include attempts to license, regulate or
tax church ministries and state meddling in a
religion's private affairs. This category also
includes efforts in states to call a federal
Constitutional Convention, an event that could result
in an alteration of the Bill of Rights and ultimately
restrict religious freedom.
Additionally, a state-by-state breakdown in Americans
United For the Separation of Church and State's Second
Annual Report (September 24, 1990) list the following
results for 1989:
Public Funding of Religious Organizations: 44 incidents in
24 states ,-
Religion in Public Schools: 60 incidents in 29 states;
State Endorsement of Religion: 53 incidents in 23 states;
Threats to Free Exercise: 35 incidents 19 states.
As noted earlier, efforts to undermine America's
public education system are taking place in every city,
suburb and rural area of the nation. And though censorship
continues to be the main form of attack on schools, new
42


challenges to school reform measures, assessment tests,
community service requirements and sexuality education are
also relevant (People for the American Way, Annual Report
1994) .
As previously mentioned, People for the American Way
(PAW), one of the most active Religious-Right-watchdog-
groups, is involved in monitoring textbook censorship. The
organization focuses on the nation's public schools,
reporting on two types of activities. The first category
deals with challenges to censorship, including attempts to
remove or restrict literature, instructional materials,
activities or programs currently part of the school
curriculum. A second category labeled "other incidents"
includes attacks on programs and curricular activities
under consideration for adoption, activities that raise
church state separation issues, or controversies dealing
with freedom of the press for student newspapers (PAW 1994
Report).
Censorship
In its Attacks on the Freedom to Learn 1969-1990
Report (pages 1-3) PAW found:
* Two hundred and forty four incidents occurred in 39
states and every region of the country. Attempts to
censor books, programs and topics in public schools
43


remains a wide spread persistent problem.
* Attacks .continue to escalate against materials that
are not required school library books and books on
optional and supplemental reading lists. These attacks
account for nearly all the challenges to instruction.
* There was a resurgence of Far Right activity,
primarily in the Western region of the country. The
popular target was the popular "Impressions"
elementary school reading series published by Holt,
Rinehart, and Winston.
* Additionally, the Far Right has not given up its
sectarian campaign to water down the teaching of
evolution, the cornerstone of modern Biology, with
Creationism, the Biblical account of the origins of
earth.
* The three most frequent objections offered by those
who sought to have materials removed from the schools
were that books contained "offensive" language, that
materials ranging from peace signs to t-shirts to
books promoted Satanism, witchcraft, or the occult
and that materials contained sexual situations or
references.
* Instructional materials about AIDS and sex education
continued to be a main form of controversy in schools.
Further, PAW's report alleges that it is diversity of
our society that the Far Right and its religious adherents
find threatening. They respond by attempting to impose on
education and America as a whole, a sectarian-based
homogeneity. Their philosophy dismisses the need to teach
students to analyze. They prefer scriptural authority with
right/wrong answers. They condemn rather than accept those
who are different. And they want to instill in children an
44


unquestioning acceptance of received wisdom rather than a
sense of curiosity and wonder (PAW Report 1990). Reports
noting similar findings have been published by Americans
United for Separation of Church and State, and The Society
of Separationists, Inc. Each has condemned the Religious
Right's statements that denounce present teaching methods
and styles.
Additionally, as pointed out by Ravitch (1986),
reports on textbook studies show that publishers have been
intimidated by fundamentalists. To avoid controversy,
Ravitch says, publishers remove information regarding the
important role religion played in the origin and progress
of civilization. This avoidance of religion is not what all
secularists advocate. Many want discussions of the world's
different religions. What they oppose are lesson plans
which only discuss Christianity and negate all other
religious and spiritual beliefs and institutions.
With censorship pressure from the Religious Right, the
common adage of neutrality regarding religion in the
classroom means to abstain from religious content all
together. Janet Jones (1993) notes that today, the
Religious Right's campaigns to gain control of public
education have jumped leaps and bounds in their efforts.
Moving from accusations of "secular humanism" in textbooks,
45


ultra-conservatives now focus value-oriented attacks on the
entire education system, which they say professes and
teaches secular and "New Age" thinking.
The Religious Right's Intolerant Campaigns
Religious Right groups working together throughout the
country have managed to gain control in a number of
communities and school districts. Challenges to
comprehensive sexual education curricula are abundant,
accounting for 31% of all censorship attempts in the 1993-
94 school year (PAW 1994) As a substitute for
comprehensive sexual education curricula, the Religious
Right has developed "abstinence only" curricula. In this
conflict, the Religious Right argues that comprehensive
sexual education does not discuss abstinence, and in a
sense, promotes sexual promiscuity by teaching children how
to have sex (Tapia 1993) However, the 1994 PAW Report
reveals that, "...all comprehensive sexual education
curricula not only teach but emphasize abstinence. In
addition, they include information on contraception and
disease prevention." The report goes on to say that,
"...authors of comprehensive programs, as well as sexuality
educators, know that it would be irresponsible to omit such
information" (Attacks on the Freedom to Learn, 24).
46


According to the secularists, another important
component of the religious Right's agenda are campaign
attempts that propose private school vouchers, also known
as "school choice" motions. These would fund private
education with public money (PAW 1994). Religious Right
advocates of school vouchers contend that high tuition
costs prevent Christian children from attending the school
of their choice. Hence, Citizens for Excellence in
Education's president Bob Simonds argues that the public
schools are no place for Christian children. He asserts
that "liberal feminists and homosexuals have immediate
access to our children in the classroom!" (noted in Attacks
on the Freedom to Learn. 1994). This, opponents maintain,
is not only intolerant but also unconstitutional and in
violation of the First Amendment. (Vouchers are currently
used in a few places including Milwaukee, Wisconsin and
Puerto Rico. However, in Puerto Rico this past April, the
courts struck down the voucher system as
unconstitutional.)
Finally, there are Religious Right campaigns to take
over public school boards (noted by Jones 1993 and PAW
1994). Christian/conservative attempts have already made
quite an impact and are increasing. As an example, in Lake
County, Florida, due to a largely Christian school board,
47


the Head Start program was eliminated. Instead, a policy
was adopted that requires students to be taught that
American culture is "superior to all foreign or historic
cultures" (17). Additionally, the school board is
considering a change to an abstinence-only sexual education
program (PAW 1994).
Janet Jones (1993) notes that grassroots level, ultra-
conservative groups are increasingly winning board seats by
using 'stealth candidates.' These are Christians who run
for school board seats (or other elected positions) without
disclosing their allegiance to ultra-conservative agendas
or beliefs. Jones notes that both the American Civil
Liberties Union and People for the American Way have put
out information warning communities of stealth candidate
techniques. Jones emphasizes that stealth candidates 'slide
in under the radar.' Then, after the election, they begin
to profess and act on their religious and philosophical
mandates.
In their 1994 report, PAW pointed out that in a San
Diego county, Christian candidates targeted over ninety
elective offices in 1990 alone. A greater part of these
offices were indeed school board positions. In fact, as of
January 1, 1993, Citizens for Excellence in Education
claimed to garner 3500 local school board seats throughout
48


the nation (Jones 1993). In the next few years, Simonds
(1993) predicts that over 6000 seats will be occupied by
Christians. Additionally, many teachers, school
administrators, counselors, media specialists and previous
board members have been targeted for implementing the so-
called secular/New Age materials into curricula. These
witch hunts, notes Jones (1993), have attacked all school
programs and practices including whole-language approach to
reading instruction, integrated and thematic instruction,
relaxation and stress reduction programs, global studies
and holistic health.
Additional Intolerant Attacks
People for the American Way's report, Attacks On The
Freedom To Learn (1994), notes that the Religious Right's
intolerant trend shows no sign of abating. In many
instances, action to remove material also resulted in
actions to remove teachers as well. PAW reports that in
most cases, administrators and school boards stood by their
staff. However, in other cases teachers became scapegoats
submitting to pressure tactics.
Attacks on Teachers. Examples include an incident in
which a Santee, California, high school Literature teacher
49


was sent home for the remainder of the school year for
planning to show the film "Zoot Suit" in class. This action
was taken even though she had followed the district's
approval policy for the showing of films. And in Boiling,
Texas a school board member told a high school teacher that
her job would be in danger if she continued to teach The
Drowning of Stephen Jones. a fictionalized account of the
murder of a gay man. The teacher removed the book (PAW
Annual Report 1994, 15).
Attacks on School Reform. Both People for the American
Way and Americans United for the Separation of Church and
State report a number of attacks on Outcome Based Education
(OBE) and Goals 2000. Separationists and many secularists
hail these and other public school reform movements as
exceptional improvements to curricula. But religious
organizations, particularly Richard Simond's Citizens for
Excellence in Education (CEE) and Peg Luksik's
Pennsylvania-based National Parents Commission, have worked
to hinder efforts. Under OBE, state and local school boards
develop broad educational goals including general skills
and knowledge they want students to acquire. Additionally,
the goals define social values set by local communities
such as citizenship, integrity, independence, critical
50


thinking, and tolerance of diversity. These goals
reestablish "outcomes" that serve as graduation
requirements or guidelines for curricula design (PAW Report
1994) .
Goals 2000, a federally legislated funding program
developed by the Department of Education, has also come
under fire from Religious Right groups. The Goals 2000
agenda sets national voluntary standards and encourages
local districts to involve parents, the community and
businesses to develop standards for local schools (PAW
Report 1994). People for the American Way notes that
because OBE (a primary plan outlined in Goals 2000) and
other similar programs are such hot-button issues, people
disregard considering OBE because of all the inaccurate
descriptions of the program by opponents.
The Revived School Prayer Movement. The school prayer
movement made a strong comeback in the 1992-93 school year
(PAW 1994). The movement has most prominently been led by
Pat Robertson and his organization, the American Center for
Law and Justice. PAW reports the Robertson's group links
the lack of organized prayer in schools to a number of
social ills. Michael Hudson (1994) notes that in 1993,
prayer bills made progress in ten states and the District
51


of Columbia. Additionally, the United States Congress
wrestled with the issue as debate over two education bills
was sidetracked by prayer amendments proposed by Republican
Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina (Attacks on the
Freedom to Learn 1994).
These challenges by the Religious Right bring to bear
religious and ideological pressures on today's school
system. This diverts educators, administrators and teachers
from their primary task of educating children. Michael
Hudson (1994) points out that often, those who oppose
school prayer are falsely accused of being irreligious and
atheistic. However, reports PAW (1994), clergy throughout
the nation are increasingly vocal about keeping organized
religion out of the schools. Their religious perspective
is, notes Michael Hudson in a public Report (1993),
"...that government officials should not be editing or
approving the content of religion and that children should
not be pressured to participate in religious observances at
odds with their own faith" (2).
Pressure from Groups with Hidden Agendas. Recently,
education writer for the Denver Post. Janet Bingham (1993),
reported that "A growing number of evangelical Christian
groups are using pressure and sometimes deception to inject
52


The article
religion into Colorado public schools."
reports on groups that target Colorado high schools and
teens. For example:
The Spirit Express, a Christian basketball team,
approaches schools or universities offering to play a pre-
season exhibition game at no charge. Team members then
stand on the court at half-time and witness for Christ.
A group called Denver Businessmen for Teens conducts
anti-drug programs in schools, then distributes coupons for
free pizza at an off-campus party. When students arrive for
their pizza, they discover the party is actually a chance
for the group to proselytize.
Young Life trains ministers to approach students at
public high schools, engage conversation and invite them to
a party where they are recruited for-Christ.
The Caleb Campaign, which distributes Christian
literature, often talks students into distributing its
materials on campus.
These groups' influence in the schools, says Anti-
Defamation League regional director Saul Rosenthal, shows
how "school principals sometimes unwittingly cross the
constitutional line separating church and state..." There
is a pattern here where well-meaning people -- educators,
parents, students -- are being taken in by groups that are
53


actually fronts for religious organizations" (Bingham
1993) .
According to PAW, the following is an outline of
current challenges to education by the Religious Right.
These points come from PAW'S Attacks on the Freedom to
Learn 1993-94 Report.
* Attacks overall continue to rise: There were more
challenges to curricula and texts during the 1993-94
school year than at any time during the twelve year
history of PAW's report. Researchers confirmed 462
incidents in 46 states in all regions of the country
this year. States with the highest number of incidents
were California, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and
Maryland. States with no verifiable challenges
included Arkansas, New Mexico, Vermont, and West
Virginia.
* Censorship is on the rise; Censors' success rate
exceeds four in ten: 375 of the 462 incidents reported
this year were causes of attempted censorship where
demands were made to remove or restrict curricula or
library materials for all students. This number
represents an 8% rise over last year. The success rate
of censors was disturbing: in fully 42% of the
reported censorship incidents, challenged materials
were removed or restricted in some fashion.
* Scope of challenges to materials widens: PAW
reported that the number of broad based challenges to
public education virtually doubled over last year,
rising from 48 to 87. These complaints included
attempting to incorporate religious activity in the
school day, challenging Halloween celebrations as
"occultic," and opposing optional counseling services
for gay and lesbian teens. In many communities,
Religious Right political groups are supporting these
efforts as an extension of their censorship activity.
* No area of public education was left unaffected: PAW
reports that given the increased strength of pro-
54


censorship groups, the effects of their activism are
being widely felt. Virtually no aspect of the
curricula is safe from these controversies.
* Religious Right political groups lead the charge: 24
percent of all reported incidents were the handiwork
of right-wing political organizations. Further, in an
additional 14 percent of the challenges, targets,
strategies and rhetoric appeared to be coordinated or
inspired by these groups. Religious Right leaders have
long focused on public education, and the movement is
at the forefront of censorship efforts in the public
schools.
* Objections based on sexual content, objectionable
language, and religion most frequent: The most
frequent complaint lodged against challenged materials
was that the treatment of sexuality was found to be
offensive. Second most common were challenges in which
materials were deemed to be profane or to contain
otherwise objectionable language. The third most
common were those in which materials were perceived to
be at odds with the objector's religion.
* Anti-gay objections on the rise: Ten percent of
PAW's reported challenges involved claims that
educators were engaged in "promoting" homosexuality.
* Educators fired, harassed in the wake of attacks:
For the second year in a row, People For The American
Way researchers documented a disturbing number of
incidents in which teachers or librarians were fired
or harassed in the wake of challenges to educational
materials. Newspapers, student plays, and student
magazines frequent targets: The report summarizes that
student publications, student theatrical productions
and magazines continue to be a prime target.
* Challenged library books reclassified: In an
apparent effort to diffuse controversy without taking
a strong stand for academic freedom, PAW reported that
a number of school districts resorted to moving books
from one section of the library to less accessible
sections moving challenged books to "professional
shelves" or "reserved sections," and in a few cases,
misclassifying books altogether (5-6).
55


Summary
According to secularists, religion-and-public-
education conflict is powered by the relentless and
impeding strength of Christian organizations. They are
increasingly making themselves heard in communities
throughout America. Their religious-political platforms are
becoming more and more evident in most local, state and
federal affairs. As these groups organize, their opinions
regarding religion and public education are getting louder.
It is for these reasons that groups like People for the
American Way, the ACLU, and People United for the
Separation of Church and State consistently fight against
the imposing onslaught of what many call Christian
fanaticism. The secular groups contend that if the
Religious Right prevails and if Christian zealots
ultimately achieve their goals of influencing the curricula
of America's public schools, freedom will be denied.
Arguments suggest that this freedom guarantees the rights
of public school students, their parents, teachers and
administrators to believe in their own sets of values.
Nonreligious and secular advocates feel that
religious/Christian groups should not be able to implement
religious activities, school prayer, bible reading,
creation theories, or proselytize on public school
56


campuses. The reason for this is because it would take away
the freedom affirmed in the First Amendment. Only with
separation of church and state will America truly remain
tolerant and neutral in its treatment of religion in the
classroom.
57


CHAPTER FIVE
RESEARCH METHODS FOR SURVEYING THE PERSPECTIVES OF
COLORADO PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS
By means of survey analysis, I attempted to
investigate the viewpoints of Colorado public school
teachers and administrators on religion-and-public-
education issues. My examination intended to seek-out
viewpoints regarding the following research question: To
what extent do religious and/or secular beliefs influence
curricula, teaching, classroom discussion, and public
school education in general, in two Colorado public school
districts?
With a twenty-eight question survey (see Appendix C),
I planned to measure a number of dependent and independent
variables. These included the perceptions and viewpoints of
teachers correlated with geographical area, age, subjects
taught, gender, religious associations, and political
affiliations: liberal, moderate, conservative.
My research techniques were developed in accordance
with guidelines and procedures set by the three education
committees. The three committees were: one, the Human
58


Research Committee, University of Colorado at Denver; two,
the Boulder Valley School District's Research and
Evaluation Services; and three, Vision, Measurement, Public
School District 11, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Additionally, my methodology guaranteed protection to those
involved from harassment, invasion of privacy, and
physical, psychological, and educational injury. (A copy of
the proposed survey application sent to each committee is
in Appendix C.)
Two Increasingly Diametric Colorado Communities
Over the last decade or so, news articles show that
large segments of citizenry in Boulder are more liberal
while citizens in Colorado Springs have increasingly become
conservative. Reasons why Boulder is seemingly more liberal
include that it is the home of the University of Colorado,
as well as the left-of-center organization People for the
American Way (PAW). In 1993, a fifth national PAW office
was opened in Boulder because, as suggested by Michael
Hudson, chief counsel and director of Boulder's PAW office,
"Colorado finds itself a testing ground for the heated
debates over religion in public education" (Brown 1993,
5B) .
Additionally, the proposed Amendment Two was hotly
59


contested by members of Boulder Valley School district, and
University of Colorado Language professor and chairman of
the CU faculty council John Miller (Roberts 1992, IB) The
Amendment was an initiative to repeal Boulder's (and
Denver's) anti-discrimination ordinances protecting gays in
Colorado and prohibiting passage of similar laws. Boulder
residents remarked that Amendment Two was directly
associated with a religious position, of which many
prominent Boulderites disagreed (Booth 1992).
Furthermore, many Boulder citizens were outraged when
University of Colorado head football coach Bill McCartney,
while wearing a CU sweatshirt, publicly associated himself
with the large conservative Christian organization,
Colorado for Family Values (CFV). Boulderites opposing
McCartney's action included Bill Jordan, columnist for the
Boulder Daily Camera; Penfield Tate, Boulder Mayor from
1974 to 1976; and Mayor Leslie Durgan (Katz 1992).
Colorado Springs, on the other hand, is seen as a more
conservative community. Evidence for this assumption is the
fact that Amendment Two was drawn-up and proposed by
Colorado Springs based Colorado for Family Values.
Additionally, a recent influx of conservative Christian
groups locating to the city supports the conjecture that
the city is increasingly conservative. Forty-two national
60


conservative religious organizations now call Colorado
Springs home (Katz 1992). The biggest, Focus on the Family,
moved from Arcadia, California in 1991. It employs close to
1,232 local people, occupies two buildings in the downtown
area, one floor of another building and a center at the
Colorado Springs airport. The group has an annual income of
$77 million. Another group, the Christian Missionary
Alliance established in 1989, has an annual income of $25
million and employs 125 local people. There is also
Bethesda Associates, which moved to Colorado Springs in
1989, has an annual income of $4 million and 75 local
employees; and, Compassion International, which opened in
1980 and now employs 155 local people, and has an annual
income of $45 million. One other, the International Bible
Society established in 1988, has 100 local employees and a
reported $18 million annual income (Gottlieb 1992).
With the increase of these and other conservative
Christian organizations, the community has had to deal with
a growing number of religious-based conflicts. This is
\
particularly true in cases involving religion and public
education. Pressure from religious groups caused the
Colorado Springs District 11 school board to "bar gays and
pagans" from a diversity panel at a high school workshop.
The decision was however, later overturned after local area
61


teachers filed a grievance in district court (Culver 1992) .
A second incident involved Rampart High School, one of the
city's biggest schools in Northwestern Colorado Springs
(Foster 1992). Rampart omitted the study of evolution from
its Biology courses amid a steady influx of fundamentalist
Christian students and groups to the area.
Because of these conditions I decided to examine the
religion and public education controversy in Boulder and
Colorado Springs. My research intended to provide a look at
the two communities and survey the views of those who are
primarily involved -- teachers and administrators. The
situations in the two communities can be considered
examples of what is happening in towns and cities
throughout the United States. And, as religious advocates
and secularists continue to make the public school
classroom a battleground, I hoped that my research would
accurately characterize the feelings of those in the
forefront of debates. Shedding light on these views can
only lead to a better understanding of the predicament.
Sampling
My survey samples consisted of teachers firom Boulder
and Colorado Springs middle/junior high schools. Reasons
for choosing these subjects included both substantive and
62


convenience factors. Recently, religion-and-public-
education conflicts have become more evident than ever
before in Boulder and Colorado Springs middle/junior high
schools. Some current headlines back this assertion:
"Evolution-text furor resolved," (Denver Post, June 16,
1994). This article was about religion in the curricula of
Colorado Springs public schools. Also, "ACLU to sue if
tuition-voucher amendment passes," (Denver Post, October
12, 1992). This piece highlighted the battle over
Colorado's Amendment 7, which if passed, would have
provided state vouchers for tuition at private and church
affiliated elementary, middle/junior high and high schools
throughout the state. And finally, "Education adversaries
cautioned schools must not be battleground, forum told"
(Denver Post, June 10, 1994) This article tells of the
mounting tensions between Boulder's liberal organization,
People for the American Way, and Colorado-Springs-based-
conservative organization Focus on the Family, regarding
religion and the public school classroom.
Convenience was also a factor for choosing
middle/junior high schools. The total number of
middle/junior high teachers and administrators in various
Boulder and Colorado Springs schools served as my
population. Of the six Boulder Valley RE 2 middle/junior
63


high schools I chose three schools. Of the eight Colorado
Springs District 11 middle/junior high schools I also chose
three schools. The schools were selected by matching the
number of teachers and administrators in a Boulder school
with the number of those in a Colorado Springs school, and
vice-versa. The total number of teachers from both
districts represented the teachers hired for the academic
year beginning August, 1994 and ending May, 1995. My
proposed survey sample from Boulder included one-hundred-
twenty-seven teachers and eleven administrators. My survey
sample of Colorado Springs included one-hundred-twenty-six
teachers and eleven administrators.
After gaining approval to conduct my research I
intended to hand deliver the surveys to the principal's
office at each school. When teacher surveys are conducted,
it is standard procedure for the principals office to
distribute the surveys in their teachers' and
administrators' mailboxes. They are then completed and
returned to the principal's office. I was informed by both
the Boulder Valley Public School District's Research and
Evaluation Services and by the Vision for Planning,
Evaluation and Measurement, Public School District 11,
Colorado Springs that this is the most efficient and cost-
saving technique to survey teachers and administrators in
64


a school. Estimated turn-around time was approximately
three weeks.
Survey Methods
My survey questions were designed to ask respondents
about perceptions of religious and secular beliefs in their
schools and classrooms and to determine how those beliefs
affect their teaching and education, generally. I developed
closed-ended questions that asked respondents whether they
strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree, or
don't know. These rankings (dependent variables) would have
assessed teachers' perceptions.
The schools and the respondents were to remain
anonymous. Schools were to be only identified as a letter:
A, B, C, D, E, F. This was done to score survey responses
0
accordingly for the purpose of comparing and contrasting.
An informed consent form was to be included with each
survey stating that participation was voluntary, that
anonymity was guaranteed and that all records were
confidential.
Survey Questions
Survey questions were developed as a result of
information I gathered in my literature review (chapters
65


three and four). The specific questions were intended to
provide information based on viewpoints of religious and
secular beliefs as they relate to curricula, teaching, the
classroom, and education in general. The questions focused
on five areas of interest including censorship, public
schools and moral values, the influence that religious or
secular beliefs have on teachers and administrators, the
teaching of creationism or more scientific theories
(evolution or the "big bang" theory), and the relationship
between church and state. These factors were dependent
variables.
The independent variables included the following: the
location of each respondent --to determine how teachers in
Boulder feel about religious and/or secular beliefs and
influences compared to teachers and administrators in
Colorado Springs, and vice versa; the ages of teachers --
to determine whether or not certain ages agreed more with
religious or secular viewpoints (this variable would be
categorized in 10 year increments: under 30 years old, 30-
40 years old, 41-50 years old, 51-60 years old, 61 years
and older); the subjects taught by each respondent (unless
respondent was an administrator) --to determine whether or
not correlations existed in regards to religious and
secular beliefs among teachers who teach the same subjects;
66


gender -- to determine if gender was related to political
attitudes; religious affiliation -- to gage the number of
religious or non-religious teachers and administrators from
my samples; and, political affiliation -- to determine if
correlations existed among respondents who affiliate
themselves with a political party or ideology.
Following is a breakdown of the survey questions
categorized by the variables that each intended to measure.
Questions 1, 12, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 29 were to measure how
censorship and religious influences interfere with public
education's curricula and its primary function --to teach.
Quest ionis 2, 4, 11, 18 were to measure perceptions
regarding moral values in the public schools. Questions 3,
5, 7, 9, 13, 16, 20, 24, 26 were to measure the allegations
that public schools negate creationism, Christianity and
God, and instead are guided by a secular agenda. Questions
6, 8, 14 were to measure perceptions regarding the
separation of church and state. Questions 10, 22 were to
measure if teachers and administrators feel that public
schools do treat religion and Christianity in an
appropriate way. Question 27 intended to measure
perceptions regarding support of a "moment of silence,"
which many secular proponents consider a pre-school prayer
initiative.
67


Summary
Due to the nature of my research topic, my
applications to conduct the survey were turned down by both
the Boulder Valley Public School District Research and
Evaluation Services, and by Vision for Planning, Evaluation
and Measurement, Public School District 11, Colorado
Springs. The director of the Boulder services informed me
that while my research methods were correct and good, the
district could not directly benefit from the proposed
research. Additionally, he told me that the district didn't
want to sanction research which might raise debate among
not only teachers and administrators but also board members
and parents in the Boulder community. The Colorado Springs
office was more direct with their response. The director
there told me, like Boulder, that my research methodology
was well done and survey questions seemed to be based on
pertinent literature and media news. However, she said, to
condone something that might be inflammatory is something
the district will have to refuse. The director said that
the issue is much too controversial. And, while the
committee respects my rights to inquire about the issue,
they do not want to approve something that might induce
unwarranted question and debate in the community, she said.
In fact, the director told me that most of the time she
68


alone approves surveys and other research proposals.
However, in the case of my survey, the Colorado Springs
director brought it before her superiors as well as school
board members and still, the answer was a resounding no.
69


CHAPTER SIX
ADDITIONAL RESEARCH OF COLORADO PUBLIC SCHOOLS:
TEXTBOOK REVIEW
To compensate for the lost of field data from my
proposed survey, I conducted a textbook review of the same
Boulder and Colorado Springs schools. My investigation
focused on two disciplines. First, Social Studies books
were reviewed because of concerns from both sides of the
debate (religious and secular) regarding how public school
textbooks discuss religion in the context of American
history and society. Additionally, textbook discussions
regarding the social significance of all religions in the
world were considered. Second, an examination of Science
textbooks was done to see whether or not, and to what
extent, textbooks addressed theories of evolution and
creationism. Further, because the issue of sex education in
the classroom is also a matter of concern in the religion
and public education debates, I also inspected Science
texts for the extent that this matter was discussed.
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Textbook Adoption in Colorado
Textbook adoption policies vary from state to state;
however, there are primarily two ways in which schools
choose the texts they use. In "state controlled" states
including Texas and California, a centralized textbook
review committee selects texts and public schools in that
state choose from an approved state list. In comparison, in
"local control" states like Colorado, public schools adopt
texts in a different way. Colorado schools choose from a
list of texts (which can sometimes be extensive) approved
by local school district committees. Hence, in examining
the Boulder and Colorado Springs schools, some texts that
were on the approved Boulder list were not on the Colorado
Springs list, and vice versa. Approved textbook lists are
public record and can be obtained from public school
district administration offices.
Following is the list of the textbooks I examined.
Standard or primary texts from sixth, seventh and eighth
grade Social Studies and Science were reviewed. Textbook
information was obtained by contacting the schools and
speaking directly with teachers from those grades and
subjects. (The district administrative offices did not have
the textbook choices of specific schools.) The textbooks
are labeled with a corresponding letter to denote each book
71


for easier analysis.
Social Studies Textbooks
6th grade Social Studies:
Text A: Exploring Latin America and Canada. 1991.
Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company. Used in two Colorado
Springs schools.
7th grade Social Studies:
Text B: A World View. 1988. Morristown: Silver, Burdett &
Ginn. Used in two Colorado Springs schools.
Text C: World Geography. 1993. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice
Hall. Used in one Colorado Springs school.
Text D: Glencoe World Geography. 1992. Lake Forest:
MacMillan/MacGraw-Hill. Used in all three Boulder schools.
8th grade Social Studies:
Text E: America: The People and the Dream. 1991. Glenview:
Scott, Foersman and Company. Used in one Boulder school.
Text F: America* s Story. 1990. Atlanta: Houghton Mifflin
Company. Used in one Boulder school and one Colorado
Springs school.
Text G: The Americans: A History. 1991. Evanaston:
McDougal, Littel and Company. Used in one Boulder school.
Text H: The American Nation. 1991. Englewood Cliffs:
Prentice-Hall, Inc. Used in one Colorado Springs school.
72


Science Textbooks
6th grade Science:
Text I: SciencePlus (Green). 1993. Austin: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston. Used in one Colorado Springs school.
Text J: Science. 1980. Menlo Park: Addison-Wesley. Used in
one Colorado Springs school.
7th grade Science:
Text K: Middle School Life Science. 1991. Dubuque:
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. Used in one Boulder
school.
Text L: Life Science: The Challenge of Discovery Program.
1991. Lexington: D.C. Heath and Company. Used in two
Boulder schools.
Text M: SciencePlus (Red). 1993. Atlanta: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston. Used in one Colorado Springs school.
8th grade Science:
Text N: Merrill Earth Science. 1993. Lake Forest:
Macmillan/McGraw-Hill. Used in all three Boulder schools.
Text O: SciencePlus (Blue). 1993. Atlanta: Holt, Rinehart
and Winston. Used in one Colorado Springs school.
Text P: Focus on Physical Science. 1984. Columbus: Merrill
Publishing Company. Used in two Colorado Springs schools.
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Textbook Review Methodology
For this review, I took into account a number of
predominant themes that were elaborated upon in chapters
three and four of this thesis. These themes, which were
also used to develop the questions for my proposed survey,
outline the primary contentions in the religion and public
education issue. Applied to the textbook review, the themes
draw attention to the "state" of religion in Boulder and
Colorado Springs' public school classroom.
In my reading review I evaluated how religious issues
were discussed; how much coverage of religion in America
and in the rest of the world was evident; when discussed,
what textbooks said about religious and/or secular matters;
how prevalent were topics that both sides in the
controversy allege as anti-religious and/or "only
Christian"; and finally, how religious issues in one book
correlated to the same issues in another.
In my analysis, I first indexed key words by searching
the indexes of the textbooks. Those key words included
"religion," "secularism," "humanism," "Christianity,"
"prayer," "God," "the Bible," "religious freedom,"
"evolution," "creationism," "homosexuality," and "sexual
reproduction." These words were chosen because of their
association with topics of contention in the controversy.
74


Pertaining to the following themes, those words worked to
highlight certain parts of the texts and made the review
and analysis systematic and organized.
Most significantly, themes were based on the arguments
outlined in chapters three and four. This included the
contentions of Christian advocate Tim LaHaye (1983) and his
"nine basic tenets of humanism in children's textbooks"
(page 24 of this thesis) Also used were the arguments made
by Paul Tascano (1990) who outlined and defined secularism
(page 25-26 of this thesis). And, the arguments presented
by People for the American Way and their support of free
reading (providing uncensored lists of material); open
discussions of global affairs as well as minorities in the
United States -- especially those belonging to religions
other than Christian denominations (page 40 of this
thesis); discussions about AIDS and sex education; and, the
teaching of evolutionary science (page 45 of this thesis).
In light of these matters and their presentation in
textbooks, I found the following results.
Findings: Social Studies Textbooks
I examined all eight previously mentioned Social
Studies textbooks used in Boulder and Colorado Springs.
Two of the texts I reviewed were revised editions of the
75


actual books used in the classrooms for the academic year,
1994-1995. However, edition revisions are minimal and
include little or no textual changes. Instead, either a
picture or a graph is added to the copy -- content changes
rarely occur (Denver Public Schools Administration 1995).
Of those two books, one edition will be used next year, and
the other was used as a reference book for classroom
readings. In both Boulder and Colorado Springs, sixth grade
students study the Western hemisphere focusing on America,
Canada and Latin America. In seventh grade World Geography
is presented including studies of countries in both the
Western and Eastern hemispheres. And in eighth grade,
students are taught American History.
Sixth Grade Social Studies Textbook Reviews
In Text A, used in two Colorado Springs schools, Jesus
Christ is mentioned on the second page in the fourth
paragraph of the text (p. 3) It is in reference to the
Georgian calendar. In fact, the name "Jesus" appears eight
times and the name "Christ" appears once in the first
chapter's section one (pages 3 to 5) all in reference to
time. From that point on, the text doesn't mention Jesus
(except in a brief chapter exercise on timeliness, p. 63).
In reference to religious groups, mention is made of the
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Roman Catholics in Latin America (pp. 187, 188).
In comparison, classroom materials for the sixth grade
Social Studies courses in Boulder included primarily
supplemental material. I was informed by teachers from the
three Boulder schools that instead of using a specific
text, class curricula involves open discussion of current
events (from newspapers or television). Additionally,
classroom activities include making family timeliness,
genealogy charts and some role-playing.
In relation to arguments in the religion and public
education controversy, findings suggest that Boulder's
teaching methods may be an example of what conservative
parents and Christian groups are indeed arguing against.
Instead of following a particular course of study in
accordance with a district approved textbook, Boulder
teachers instead teach and have discussions on issues which
may be current news, but which also may be offensive to
Christian students, parents and groups. On the other hand,
the seemingly abundant references to "Jesus Christ" in the
Colorado Springs textbook supports the notion of secular
proponents that too much attention is given to Christianity
(especially being that Jesus' name is mentioned a number of
times in the first chapter). Secular proponents might
suggest that Colorado Springs is an example of how a
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Christian conservative community can influence which books
public schools. This is based only on the fact of how often
the name Jesus appears even though it is in reference to
time.
Seventh Grade Social Studies Textbook Review
In the seventh grade, students study World Geography.
This includes lessons on the landscapes, climates and
cultures of other countries, and in some cases, discussions
about various religions, governments and economies. Of the
three books examined from both districts, the cultural
significance that religion has in the world is summarized
(although, some religions are given more attention than
others). All texts discuss many of the world's different
religions including Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism.
However, in all three books it seems that much more
attention is given to summaries of other countries'
religions (ie. showing maps of the predominance of
particular types of religions on certain continents).
An example of this was evident in Boulder's Text D. It had
much more information about the world's religions including
eight referenced pages on Buddhism; seven pages about
Hinduism; nine explaining Islam; four pages on Judaism; two
pages describing Shinto practices; three references on
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Sikhism and six pages mentioning Confucianism; and three
pages with descriptions of Taoism.
In contrast, in all three books there is only a small
amount of discussion about religion in the United States.
As an example, in Text C used in Colorado Springs, my
review found that most countries listed in the Index had
referenced pages under a sub-heading "religion of.." [that
particular country] However, this was not the case with
the indexed heading "United States."
Aside from religion specifically, the Colorado Springs
text B also discusses America's involvement in world
affairs including such issues as multi-racial schools (p.
561), international relief efforts (p. 422), the Green
Revolution (p. 616-617), and the spread of democracy around
the world (p.382-383). The issues are discussed in sections
named "Making Connections: Where Regions Meet."
Considering the religion and public education debates,
sections in Boulder's Text D may be what many religious
advocates are referring to with their contentions that
public schools promote internationalist ideals instead of
focusing more on the United States itself. This is an
argument made by Tim LaHaye and point eight of his "nine
basic tenets of humanism found in children's textbooks."
However, the particular curricula for seventh grade is
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appropriately titled "World Geography."
Additionally, in regards to the discussions on
Buddhism and Taoism in Boulder's Text D, here could be an
example of the religious/ Christian contention that today's
public schools teach a secular cosmology (Tascano 1990).3
Additionally, the shear number of explanations about
religions other than Christianity in the book can also be
an example of LaHaye's tenet that in today's classroom
students are taught situation ethics (the idea that there
are no absolutes).
The review also revealed that both Colorado Springs
texts (B and C) fell far short in their discussions of
world religions compared to the Boulder text. In regards to
that finding, this can be an example of the secular
argument (which disagrees with a persistent teaching of
only Christianity) that threats to the free exercise and
discussion of the world's religions are occurring in
today's classroom (noted in the 1994 PAW Report).
Eighth Grade Social Studies Textbook Review
In my examination of eighth grade Social Studies
3 Tascano notes that a 1961 Supreme Court ruling said
that Buddhism and Taoism are among religions that do not
teach the existence of God and are by definition secular
(see page 26 of this thesis).
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textbooks I found that of the four books used in Boulder
and Colorado Springs, all did indeed discuss religion to
varying degrees. I examined two texts used in Boulder (Text
E and Text G), Text H used in Colorado Springs, and Text F
which is used in one Boulder school and one Colorado
Springs school.
All four texts reviewed post-colonial America, the
reformation in England in the 1500s and the exodus to the
Americas. The Colorado Springs Text H went as far back as
1000 a.d. and covered the Crusades. Also, all books
discussed the Church of England, giving a brief history of
the religious strife it endured.
Aspects of religion in colonial America were also
discussed. All the texts had sections on the Puritan's life
and beliefs in early America. However, three of the books
lightly discussed the plight of the Puritans, their
leaders, and their communities, while one book specifically
elaborated their beliefs of original sin, predestination,
and good moral values including hard work and living by the
word of the Bible. This was Text F, used in one Boulder and
one Colorado Springs school. Additionally, Text F had a
writing by John Winthrop and an exercise that asked
students to discuss his aspects of Christian charity (p.
82). Pennsylvania's "Holy experiment" was also written
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about (Text E, Text G, Text H only gave slight mention of
this issue). Overall, discussions regarding religion in
America were extensive in Text F as compared with the
others used in either city. However, it made a point to
present religion in early America in a very factual manner.
This can be seen in the following brief excerpt on the
Great Awakening of the early 1700s:
. .preachers of the Great Awakening said it was
important for all people to have personal religious
experience, rather than to simply follow the rules set
by a church or its ministers. The Great Awakening
aroused much excitement among the colonists. It set a
pattern for later religious movements in America (p.
101) .
From that point on Text F says very little about religion
and/or Christianity in America.
In comparison, Colorado Springs' Text H addresses the
Salem witch hunts and religion and the Bill of Rights. It
also gives historical summaries of the following religious
groups: Baptists, Catholics, Muslims, Christians, Mormons,
Jews, Native Americans, Presbyterians, Protestants,
Puritans (as previously mentioned) and the Quakers. In
general, the discussions elaborate on predominant figures
associated with those religions, where they initially
began, and how they fit into American society at certain
times in history. In my opinion, the information was given
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in a factual matter.
In contrast, Text E (used in one Boulder school)
reviews a number of religious groups. There is less detail
than the previously mentioned Colorado Springs text. Text
E was also the only text that covered religious
fundamentalism (p. 694). Additionally, it, along with the
other Boulder book (Text G) discussed the Scopes-Monkey
trial in detail. In Text E (Boulder) the section on Scopes
ends with "Traditional rural religious values remained
strong and continued to influence American life in the
midst of the new mass-production culture" (695). This
Boulder text was also the only book to define secularism
(the word is listed in the index). Interesting to note is
that it does, in a matter of speaking, relate the religious
beliefs of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to secular
theory. The text reads:
Thomas Jefferson and his friend James Madison
called for a separation of church and state. Neither
Jefferson nor Madison followed the beliefs of any of
the established churches of their time. This perhaps
made them feel even stronger that government should
not interfere with the free expression of a persons
beliefs.
By 1786 the states had ended official government
support of churches. Even so, most Americans were not
in favor of secularism doubt and unbelief with
regard to religion. Most Americans belonged to one of
the many religious groups that existed throughout
America (p. 194).
In my examination of eighth grade texts I found that
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some of the topics written about in Boulder's Text G may be
what many religious/Christians proponents say is a
promotion of socialism and internationalism (two of Tim
LaHaye's proofs that secular theory is emphasized in
today's classroom). The explanations and portrayals are,
however, done in a very historical and neutral fashion
naming countries involved, the emphasis of the ideologies
in society, and the historical conclusion that communism
did, at one time, frighten Americans (p. 634-635).
Arguments by many conservative religious groups say that
lessons regarding these issues are unwarranted and promote
a secular salvific vision, which teaches to extend, on an
equal basis, the full benefits of achievements to all
humans (Tascano 1990).
Findings: Science Textbooks
To begin with, it is important to note that General
Science is taught in the sixth grade (from the material
reviewed this includes a overview of scientific principles
such as the earth and its environment; gravity, force and
space; as well as patterns of life -- animals, human
growth, and microscopic organisms). Seventh grade Science
teaches primarily Life Science including topics of
ecosystems and ecology, plants and animals as living things
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as well as the human body. Eighth grade teaches Physical
Science. Here, however, all Boulder schools used the same
eighth grade text which is specifically an Earth Science
text (Text N) The three Colorado Springs schools used
books focusing more on Physical Science (Text 0 and Text
P) All three eighth grade textbooks of both districts
highlighted the physical forces of nature, however, the
Physical Science texts used in Colorado Springs seemed to
apply more hands-on experiments and activities while the
eighth grade Boulder text theorized more on earth and the
universe.
Sixth Grade Science Textbook Reviews
The two books examined were Text I and Text J. Both
were used in Colorado Springs schools for the academic
year. Text J was very neutral. It reviewed general Science
themes and made no coverage of either evolution or creation
theories. Additionally, sexual reproduction was not
mentioned, though a small paragraph discussed human traits
in a section titled "Living things have certain
characteristics that makes them different from others" (p.
253). Text I also covered general Science themes; however,
in two instances the text used excerpts from Lewis
Carroll's Through The Looking Glass, and J.R.R. Tolkien's
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The Hobbit to introduce two different chapters. Both
Carroll and Tolkien's books have been censored by-
conservative Christian groups in communities throughout the
United States (PAW 1994).
Additionally, Text I showed timeliness starting from
500,000 b.c. and geological time scales. No mention or
point referenced the birth of Christ (though both b.c and
a.d. are highlighted). Furthermore, exercises have students
discuss the future and what life will be like when,
worldwide, we are experiencing a major energy crisis.
In regards to allegations asserted in the controversy,
sections of Text I may be an example of contentions held by
conservative Christian groups who are troubled by and
oppose hypothetical discussions. This is what Tascano
(1990) calls a secular salvific vision. An example of this
is the book's discussion of what life would be like during
a major energy crisis. This exemplifies what many Christian
parents find troubling: "real life" or "critical
discussion" periods.
No sixth grade Science text was used in the Boulder
schools for the academic year in which my research took
place. I was informed that teachers use supplementary
material including copied information in books from other
grade levels. Also used were current science news from
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local and national newspapers and magazines. I was told by
a Boulder administrator that these materials are not
necessarily approved by the state. They are more-or-less
site based approved. This means that if a teacher thought
that material he or she chose was in anyway controversial
in matter, then they typically show the material to
administrators or the principal to discuss how it fits into
lesson plans and the curricula. In retrospect, this
procedure could, in fact, raise objection from both sides
of the religion and public education debates. Straying from
approved lists -- whether it be for economic reasons or
other -- may leave room for biased teaching, either
religious or secular.
Seventh Grade Science Textbook Reviews
The seventh grade Science textbooks contained more
topics related to the religion and public education
controversy than did the sixth grade texts. Of the Science
texts, I reviewed Text L, used in two Boulder schools; Text
K used in one Boulder school, and the seventh grade
SciencePlus edition (Text M), used in one Colorado Springs
school.
In this examination I found that Boulder's Text K
extensively discussed the human body (denoting twelve
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chapters and over 3 00 pages) In addition, it had a
descriptive review of human body changes including three
chapters on the reproductive system, reproduction and birth
(70 total pages). There was also a section on birth control
that explains family planning and the rhythm method,
contraceptives, birth control pills, spermicide and
"withdrawal." Additionally, it had writing exercises that
highlight news articles about AIDS and an activity that
asks students to call their health department to talk to
someone who can tell them which sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs) are the biggest problem in their city or
county (p. 539) .
In Text M, used in one Colorado Springs school, there
was an explanation of Darwin's theory of evolution (p.86).
Also, the big bang theory (a so-called secular cosmogony)
is covered with a title reading "A Likely Beginning" (p.
436) No mention is made of the creation theory from the
Bible. Also interesting was a section in the text that
explains the theories of Galileo and Copernicus. At the end
of this section, an exercise asks students to role-play a
mock trial, and debate scientific theories along with what
a church official believed at that time. Summarizing, the
exercise informs students of the scientific theories as
well as what the church's standpoint is regarding the earth
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and human beings. The text gives the church official's
point of view as "I believe absolutely in the teaching of
Aristotle. The Earth, and therefore humans, are at the
center of all things" (p. 404) In regards to the arguments
and debates over the role of religion in the classroom,
this contradicts a primary belief of many religious/
Christian proponents. They posit that God, not man, is the
center of all things. So, though this may be an accurate
explanation of the sun verses earth-centered theories,
teaching such things may counter the beliefs of many of
today's religious proponents.
In the third seventh grade Science text (Text L) used
in two Boulder schools, evolution is extensively discussed
(pp. 82-113, 504-561) The text does point out that "Humans
did not evolve from chimpanzees, gorillas, or any other ape
living today" (p.550) However, it does make clear that the
evolution of man began 4 million years ago with the
Australopithecus, showing a progression of pictures of ape-
like creatures ending with a modern man (p. 552).
Furthermore, the text elaborates on human reproduction,
showing pictures of male and female sexual organs (pp.
432,433). It showed numerous pictures, both drawings and
still-photos, of the developmental stages of a fetus (p.
432-446).
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In reviewing Boulder's Text K, there was extensive
discussion on sexual education (which is a primary
contention among conservative, Christian groups -- as
discussed in chapter three of this thesis). Also, the
discussions on evolution and the big bang theory in Text L
can be an example of what many Christian conservative
groups call an evolutionary dogma.
Eighth Grade Science Textbook Reviews
Finally, I investigated the eighth grade Science texts
used in all six the schools from my sample. Text N, used in
the three Boulder schools, discusses evolution in the
context of animals. It shows the evolution of a horse (pp.
446, 447) This is followed by a brief section on the
Cenozoic Era which shows the evolution of both man and
woman. However, a note along side a figure representing
man's evolution says, "The model shows one possible path of
human evolution. Humans probably evolved from one species
of Australopithecus, a small human-like animal that used
tools and walked upright" (p. 466) The use of the words
"one possible," and "probably" denote speculation or
possibly room for other theories. There is no mention, as
is the fact in all Science books reviewed, made of the
Bible's creation theory. However, the big bang theory is
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also covered in this text. But, it also notes the theory
as the "most likely possibility" (p. 650).
The two Science texts (Text 0 and Text P) used in
Colorado Springs offer much more "watered-down" versions of
evolution and sexual reproduction. In fact, one textbook
has no mention of either issue and instead reads more as a
Chemistry text. The other also focuses more on Chemistry as
it relates to life but does, however, denote approximately
50 pages to the science of the unborn and birth (pp. 438-
494) .
In reviewing the eighth grade Science texts I found
that evolution is the dominating explanation for the
beginning of life in all the texts. The books' discussions
of evolution being the "most likely explanation" supports
Tim LaHaye's "Nine basic tenants of humanism in textbooks,"
- that today's textbooks negate Christian principles.
Additionally, Text O and Text P's extensive coverage of
sexual reproduction is also a major point of contention by
many Christian/religious proponents as pointed out in
chapter three of this thesis.
Summary
As we see from the textbook review, allegations made
by both the religious and secular sides receive some
91