ED 161B — Religious Education in America

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No principle stands more sacred in American public education than separation of Church and state. Public schools pride themselves as neutral playing fields when it comes to matters of religion. But this position belies a more complicated history. American public schools were initially founded by protestant leaders concerned with an influx of non-protestant immigrants during the middle of the 19th century. Indeed, despite lip service to ideas like separation of Church and state, American educational leaders long saw schools as a vehicle for promoting a Protestant inflected American culture. This course begins from the premise that American education and American religion have always existed in relationship. Religious groups have sometimes tried to use the public schools as vehicles to advance their religion, sometimes, they have created supplemental schools, and sometimes they have created whole parallel school systems. But in all cases, education and religion in American are intertwined. This course asks when education is religious and when religion is educational. It examines a series of case studies drawn from different faith communities including Judaism, Evangelical Christianity, Catholicism, and Islam. Usually offered every second year.
Ziva Hassenfeld