The Free Exercise of Religion$3.html

WEB LESSON The discussion by Maria Gallo eases students into debates, so that their opinions are not simply generated by feelings but address a topic objectively. It begins with a scavenger hunt of cases that were used by the Court as precedent. It shows the conflict between protected rights, in this case the religious beliefs of some parents concerning blood transfusions and the right of a child for life. MS-HS

Making Civics Real: Freedom of Religion

WEB LESSON The Annenberg Learner Making Civics Real demonstrates a lesson focused on the constitutional issue of Freedom of Religion. It guides teachers to implement a Socratic Seminar and Moot Court activity in the civics classroom. MS-HS

Should Students Have the Right to Lead Prayers at Public School Events?

WEB LESSON In this lesson, provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, students look at the issue of student-led prayer. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that adults who lead religious exercise in the classroom or at school events violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment. But what if a student leads a prayer at a graduation or even a football game? MS-HS

The Persecution of the Mormons

WEB LESSON In this Constitutional Rights Foundation lesson students discuss the issue of religious liberty. During the 19th century, the newly formed Mormon religion encountered significant persecution, especially over the issue of polygamy. Republicans who labeled slavery and polygamy the "twin relics of barbarism," led Congress to outlaw multiple marriages in 1862. Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders were charged under this law. Students examine the case of Reynolds v. US to determine if they think the court made the correct decision. MS-HS

Zelman v. Simmons-Harris

WEB LESSON This is a Bill of Rights Institute Establishment lesson. Many students across the country have begun work in schools their parents selected for them using vouchers. Does the First Amendment prohibit the government from giving parents public money to pay for tuition at private, religious schools? The Supreme Court ruled on the voucher issue in the 2002 case of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris. MS-HS

Allegheny County v ACLU, 1989

WEB LESSON This Bill of Rights Institute lesson explores the Supreme Court's decision on the case of Allegheny County v. ACLU (1989). The Court held (5-4) that a creche with the words "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" (Glory to God in the highest) displayed on the grand staircase of the county courthouse violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. In the same case, six justices held that a joint Menorah-Christmas tree display outside the city-county building did not violate the Establishment Clause. MS-HS

Locke v Davey (2004)

WEB LESSON This Bill of Rights Institute lesson explores the religious liberty of a student to pursue a college degree in theology at public expense. In 2004 the Court ruled that states do not violate the Free Exercise Clause by denying state funds to college students pursuing degrees in theology. This would make a good moot court activity for the classroom. MS-HS

Minersville School District v Gobitis (1940)

WEB LESSON Billy Gobitis had to choose between attending public school and exercising his religion. Billy was a ten-year-old elementary school student in 1935. When Billy and his sister refused to participate in their public school's required flag-salute ceremony, they were expelled. Explore the reasons that the Court gave for it's support of district policy in this case. MS-HS

When Rights Conflict: Wisconsin v. Yoder

WEB LESSON Many of the most important conflicts in our society are not between good and evil, but between two goods or two rights. In this Constitutional rights Foundation Chicago lesson, students analyze a case study involving a conflict between two rights education and religion.

Vouchers, Tax Credits & Other Aid to Religious Schools

WEB ACTIVITY The issue: What limitations does the First Amendment place on government aid to religiously-affiliated schools? Student Review These Cases: Zelman v Simmons-Harris (2002) Arizona Christian School Tuition Org. v Winn (2011) Research & Discussion Questions: 1. Would a voucher program be constitutional in a district where there were no private, non-religious schools? What if 49 of the private schools in the jurisdiction were religious, and only one was not? 2. Would a voucher program be constitutional if lawmakers supporting the program argued, "This is a good way of getting more kids into schools with religious training, and that's a good thing"? 3. Would direct government aid to all private schools, as opposed to a voucher program, be likely to be upheld after Zelman? Why or why not? 4. Would a voucher program for private colleges be constitutional? Are there reasons for possibly treating a program that aids private college students differently than one that aids private elementary or secondary school students? 5. Should it be constitutional to exempt church property from the payment of real estate taxes, a common practice? Such exemptions were upheld by the Court in Walz v Tax Commission of New York (1970).