Religious Faith and Policy in Public Education: A Political and Historical Analysis of the Christian Right in American Schooling

Authored by: Nathan R. Myers , James G. Cibulka

Handbook of Education Politics and Policy

Print publication date:  June  2008
Online publication date:  June  2008

Print ISBN: 9780805861112
eBook ISBN: 9780203887875
Adobe ISBN: 9781135595586

10.4324/9780203887875.ch13

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Abstract

One of the most remarked upon phenomena in American politics is the growing influence of the Christian right in American politics. In this paper we examine the Christian right’s political influence on K-12 education. We pose several questions. First, is the political influence of religious groups on education a new development in American history? We shall argue that the participation of the Christian right in educational politics has ebbed and flowed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. Although religious influences on public education were muted after World War II, during the 1970s religious groups reemerged as important political actors. We suggest that this historical interpretation sheds light on the significance of the Christian right as a political movement and its potential for transforming K-12 education. Accordingly, in the first section of the paper we undertake an historical survey of the ways in which conservative religious groups from the mid-19th century forward have attempted to impact federal, state, and local policy.

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