An analysis of Virginia's public school policies on religion: from historical, public policy, and evangelical Christian perspectives

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Virginia Tech

Throughout the history of public education in the United States religion has been an important factor in the schooling process. From the inception of public schools until the present time the Bible's inclusion is but one indication of the interrelationship of religion and education. The major legal questions that this relationship has raised have generally dealt with the First Amendment clauses dealing with the free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state. One major religious constituency, evangelical Christianity, in recent years has begun to vocalize its concern about this relationship. Evangelicals, although not necessarily wanting to return to the days of the Protestant public schools, do want this relationship corrected and articulated. One method of articulation is through effective public school policies.

The major portion of this study specified the relationship between religion and public education and developed a framework for analysis from a historical, evangelical and public policy perspective. A descriptive study was then made of Virginia's public school policies that dealt with religion. A questionnaire, developed by the author, was submitted to all the local school divisions in the state to solicit a policy and information about that policy. Conclusions, recommendations and implications were stated based upon the information provided in the study. Proposed public school policies on religion for local and state school boards were provided as a prescription for partial solution to the problem of the correct relationship between religion and public education.