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Freedom of Religion - Part 1

• A federal court in Arkansas outlawed Bible classes that had been taught in a city's public schools for 51 years. The schools gave elementary grade children the opportunity to learn about the Bible. Bible classes were taught during regular school hours in the school building, by volunteers not acting on behalf of any church. No course credit was given for the classes, and attendance was voluntary. Nearly 96% of all students attended the Bible classes. The parents of one child filed a lawsuit in federal court, alleging that the program violated the first amendment's "nonestablishment of religion" clause. The court began its opinion by observing that, according to Supreme Court pronouncements, "any government involvement with religion, to be constitutional, must have a secular purpose, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, and it must ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • May 1, 1990