How Has The Separation Of Church And State Affected Public Schools In The United States?
My high school has a Christian Club, which meets on campus. And we have many people who are not Christians, who are from the Middle East, India, and China. Every morning Christians, (I assume they are Christians. Maybe I should ask them.) pray at the flag poll in front of the school. My math teacher reads the Bible everyday at lunch. In the seventh grade we study Islam when we study the Middle East, and Christianity when we study Europe from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. We study them again as sophomores in high school. We read the works for religious leaders, for example Jonathan Edwards and religious literature, for example Dante's Comedy. As sophomores in high school we study Buddhism, Shinto, and the religions of India and Africa.
Considering all that, saying the religion has been separated sounds a bit oxymoronic.
Several U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the mid-twentieth century led to an attempt to separate religious education from public schools. On June 17, 1963, the Court ruled that prayer and Bible reading in public schools is unconstitutional. The decision was the culmination of a series of high court rulings over the course of almost twenty years that gradually removed religious activities from public schools. These rulings began in 1947 with the New Jersey case of Everson v. Board of Education, in which the court defended the use of state funding to transport children to parochial schools (supported by a church) but warned that "a wall of separation between church and state must be maintained." In 1948 the case of McCollum v. The Board of Education led to the banning of all religious instruction from schools in Champaign, Illinois. In the case of Engel v.Vitale in 1962, the justices of the Supreme Court ruled that state-composed prayer recited in New York classrooms was unconstitutional. This move toward a clear separation between church and state led to an increase in religious schools while also defending the privacy and religious freedom of students in the public education system.
Further Information: Engel v. Vitale. [Online] Available atheism.about.com/culture/atheism/library/legal/decisions/bl_l_EngelVitale.htm, October 23, 2000; Fraser, James W. Between Church and State: Religion and Public Education in a Multicultural America. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999; Gay, Kathleen. Church and State: Government and Religion in the United States. Brookfield, Conn.: Millbrook Press, 1992; McCollum v. The Board of Education. [Online] Available www.soc.hmn.edu/-samaha/cases/mccollum%20v%20bd%20of%20ed.htm, October 23, 2000.