Ep. 03: Religion and public schools

Mar 5, 2020

Has God been kicked out of the public schools? Amanda Tyler and Holly Hollman dig into a recent announcement from President Trump about constitutional prayer in public schools and explore the rhetoric and the reality. Hear their reactions to the Oval Office announcement (starting at 3:20), the stories behind the stories shared there (11:11), and the long history of guidelines on religion in the public schools through Supreme Court cases and consensus efforts (18:32). In the final segment, Amanda and Holly look at how religion is portrayed – and not – in the movie “Little Women” (37:35) and discuss a meditation practice in a public school. 

Scroll down for show notes.

Show notes:

Segment 1: Trump administration’s guidelines on prayer in public schools (starting at 01:08)

To watch President Trump’s announcement from the Oval Office and hear the stories shared by others during the event, visit this C-SPAN link.

The guidance from the Trump administration on religious expression in public schools is available at this link.

The government guidance on religion in the public schools from 2003 is available at this link.

To read more about the stories shared in the Oval Office, here is a Deseret News article about the teacher at the heart of the Ash Wednesday controversy and how she apologized.

Here is an article from the Washington Post from 2015 about the lawsuit regarding the student who gathered others to pray at school.

As Amanda and Holly mention in the conversation, former BJC Executive Director James Dunn often said, “As long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in schools.”


Segment 2: What does the law say about religion in public schools? (starting at 17:35)

For more resources from BJC on religion in the public schools – including a printable handout as well as pamphlets created in previous decades that turned the guidance into guidebooks – visit BJConline.org/resources.

Amanda mentions an article she wrote during Public Schools Week titled “America’s public schools protect religious liberty. We all should be #PublicSchoolProud.” Click here to read it on our Medium channel.


Segment 3: Where did we see religion in our world? The movie “Little Women,” concerns over meditation in schools (starting at 33:12)

Each week, Amanda and Holly will talk about where they see religion in the world around us and what they are reading.

Holly mentioned this Washington Post article about teachers using meditation in public schools.

Holly also mentioned this Wall Street Journal article titled “God Goes Missing in ‘Little Women.’”


Respecting Religion is made possible by BJC’s generous donors. You can support these conversations with a gift to BJC.