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Response to "Illegal"

Reader comment on item: Spreading Islam in American Public Schools

Submitted by Adam, J.D. (United States), Dec 2, 2004 at 15:12

The "teaching of Islam" is NOT illegal in the USA. You do not know your laws. The constitution forbids any establishment of religion, indicated by Justice O'Connor's "endorsement" test. A school may not, consistent with the Establishment clause of the 1st Amendment, endorse or advance ANY religion (including Christianity or Judeo-Christian beliefs, such as by posting a copy of the 10 commandments). If the school is teaching "understanding islam", as some of the respondents have suggested, this is constitutional so long as it is contained within a study of religion, or comparative religion, or history, or so long as there is some secular purpose to the law that allows the teaching to take place, and so long as the law does not have the effect of endorsing or aiding religion (any and all religions).

There are no national laws that forbid teaching religion. This is a matter left wholly to the States and their subdivisions. The State in which you live might bar any religious observations in school, but the federal government does not. The Court reviews State laws or municipality/school district policies that either allow for or propose teaching methods, and if these policies/statutes run counter to the Establishment clause guarantee, then the Court will invalidate them. There is NOT a national ban on teaching religion in schools, whether you agree or disagree with the Supreme Court's decisions.

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