Separation of Church and School

The Bible is widely considered to be one of the most influential books of all time but its place in the classroom sparks controversy. Many students feel there’s a place for religion and public school classrooms are not that place. Many argue that this push of the Bible onto students is unfair and unconstitutional. Hillyer Biology Department chairman and assistant professor Stephan Bullard has a different view.

“It depends on what class you’re talking about,” says Bullard. “If you’re talking about a comparative religion class, obviously it has a place in that. If it’s an English class, that too, I could see that: different aspects of the bible, religious texts, different aspects of that. Where it doesn’t belong is in a science classroom.” A hot-button debate in the classroom surrounds the teaching of evolution vs. intelligent design. “This type of stuff really doesn’t fit into a science classroom and the reason why it because religion simply is not science.” The courts repeatedly agree. However, should intelligent design be included to avoid leaving Christians out in the cold?

“You kept them separate,” says Father Michael Dolan of the university’s campus ministry, “theology was over here, and science, and other hard sciences were on the other side and you didn’t mix them, but they certainly respected each other. Sometimes that respect is missing today.”

“I don’t think anyone should be offended about the theories that are out there,” says student Heather Stachowiak.

Professor Bullard tries to accommodate for those with different beliefs. “What I do is I try to put all of my students at ease. In my opinion you can believe in anything you want, I’m not here to convince you of anything or change anyone’s mind. My job as I see it is to present the information that I know as best I can”

More recent court cases have focused on the neutrality of the material taught in schools rather than if it is included in lessons at all.