Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963992 | Print ISBN: 9781412906784 | Online ISBN: 9781412963992| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Religious Fundamentalism and Public Education
Rick A. Breault
Contemporary tensions in the relationship between religious fundamentalists and the public schools can be understood only within the historical context of the relationship between the schools and religion in general in the United States. It is also important to note that the debate, as defined in the United States, is limited almost solely to Protestant Christian fundamentalism. Although the current debate is often seen as a relatively recent move by powerful Christian conservatives to remove long-established church-state barriers, religion has been intimately connected to American education from its beginnings and was key to the early expansion of the public school system. In contrast, although the principle of a strict wall between church and state was established at the beginning of the nation, the enforcement of that principle is a somewhat recent phenomenon. Following some key definitions and a brief historical context, the focus of this entry will shift to the ...