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All three branches of the federal government, as well as many state and local governments, have attempted to clarify the increasingly contentious issue of the appropriate relationship between religion and public schools.
Some of the most divisive issues have been school prayer; the teaching of evolution and creationism; vouchers; the use of school space by religious groups; the recitation of the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance; and teaching about religion. The Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project delivers timely, impartial information on these and related topics to opinion leaders, including government officials and journalists, through reports, transcripts of its events, polling data and the latest news gathered from media nationwide.
Project reports have explored how the classroom has become one of the most important battlegrounds in the broader conflict over religion’s role in public life and the history of the controversy over teaching evolution in public schools.
The Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project does not take positions in policy debates. It is a project of the Pew Research Center, a Pew subsidiary and a nonpartisan ‘fact tank’ in Washington, D.C., that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.
For more information about religion and education, visit the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.
Jun 28, 2010 - A divided Supreme Court today ruled, 5-4, that a public law school can deny recognition to a student group that excludes gays and lesbians. The Court said the school could enforce a policy requiring official student organizations to accept all students who want to join.
Feb 05, 2009 - Polls find 40%-50% of the public accepts a biblical creationist account of the origins of life, while comparable numbers accept the idea that humans evolved over time.
Feb 04, 2009 - Nearly 200 years after Charles Darwin's birth, evolution and religion remain a combustible mix. A new special report by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life gives an overview of the debate, examines its social and legal dimensions and reviews the life and ideas of an unlikely revolutionary.
Feb 04, 2009 - A history of landmark evolution cases in the United States.
Feb 04, 2009 - A sampling of recent action in 14 states in which the teaching of evolution has stirred controversy.
Aug 28, 2008 - As children return to the nation's public schools, many will utter the phrase "one nation under God" as part of the Pledge of Allegiance. Research Associate Jesse Merriam explains how the courts have interpreted the constitutionality of this and other acts of "ceremonial deism."
Apr 24, 2008 - Did the Illinois legislature violate the U.S. Constitution when it mandated moments of silence in the state's public schools? Research Associate Jesse Merriam explains that the issue hinges on whether there is a genuine secular purpose behind the legislation.
Mar 27, 2008 - When Pope Benedict XVI arrives in the U.S. on April 15, 2008, he will be greeted by a flock that is undergoing rapid ethnic and demographic changes.
Oct 24, 2007 - The First Amendment guarantees that the federal government will respect the "free exercise" of religion. But do sincerely held religious beliefs exempt individuals or groups from certain laws? This backgrounder details the history of the free exercise debate.
View: Full Report (Adobe PDF)
Sep 28, 2005 - Commentary on opinion polls related to evolution and the teaching of evolution in the classroom.
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