Religious Education in a Time of Globalization and Pluralism: The Example of the United States

  • Walter FeinbergEmail author


The role of religion in public education in the United States can be traced back to motivation of the Pilgrims to protest against tyranny, and to follow their own conscience as dictated by religion. Ironically their settlement of Massachusetts was followed by a series of repressive measures directed against different religious beliefs. When the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, the founding document of the country, the First Amendment dealt with religious freedoms among others. The first two clauses read: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Over the years this has meant less and less religious influence in the public schools, but it has also meant more interest in private, sectarian public schools. And it has also motivated a drive to teach Bible and religion as academic courses in public schools. While the United States is not, nor should it be, the model for other liberal democracies, nevertheless because of an increase in religious pluralism worldwide the experience of the United States can be instructive for other countries.


Religious education Liberal democracies Pluralism First Amendment Vouchers Catholic schools Religious chauvinism 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Educational Organization, Policy and LeadershipThe University of IllinoisChampaignUSA

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