Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: February 22, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412957403 | Print ISBN: 9781412956642 | Online ISBN: 9781412957403| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Edgerton Bible Case
Thomas C. Hunt
The Bible, King James Version, held a preeminent place in American society in general and in public schools in particular in the 19th century. Horace Mann, for instance, claimed that the Christian religion was present in the common schools he advocated because of the presence of the Bible, whose reading without note or comment was a feature of the “nonsectarian Christian” schools. The state of Wisconsin was no exception when it came to the exalted place and role of the Bible. Thus, the decision of the Supreme Court of the state of Wisconsin that outlawed devotional Bible reading in its public schools in 1890, the first ruling of its kind in the nation, constitutes a major dissent from existing practice. How did this dissent happen? The constitution that was adopted when Wisconsin became a state in 1848 outlawed “sectarian instruction.” However, the words “no book of religious doctrine or belief” ...