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date: 02 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

While American schools are governed by sundry federal, state, and local laws, the most important law on religion and education is the First Amendment guarantee: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This chapter analyzes the major Supreme Court cases on the role of religion in public schools, the role of government in religious schools, and the place of religious rights of students and parents in all schools. It shows how the Court’s religion cases have vacillated between principles of strict separation of church and state and accommodation and equal treatment of religion. It shows how the Court has slowly come to protect and enhance the freedom of parents and students to choose between public and private education. And it shows how the Court has long protected students from being coerced to participate in religion or to abandon their religious practices.

Keywords: First Amendment, Establishment Clause, Free Exercise Clause, equal access, separation of church and state, religion, education

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