School Prayer and Discrimination: The Civil Rights of Religious Minorities and Dissenters

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UPNE, 2001 - Law - 273 pages
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In this provocative work, Frank S. Ravitch redirects the heated debate over prayer in the public schools. He asserts that current legal discourse, which centers this controversial issue around First Amendment rights, underestimates the ways in which school prayer fosters discrimination against religious minorities and dissenters. Arguing that traditional Constitutional doctrine is inadequate to address the harmful effects of public school religious exercises, Ravitch looks to civil rights principles and anti-discrimination laws for an alternative approach.

The author confronts the discrimination issue head-on, citing recent dramatic incidents of intimidation, harassment, and physical violence toward both religious minorities and those who oppose religious observances in the schools. He examines the legal, political, and social realities that create such occurrences, concluding that discrimination is likely to become more widespread, particularly as the religious right aggressively promotes the expansion of organized religious exercises in schools. Following a survey of current civil rights statutes and their limitations in dealing with this issue, Ravitch presents a draft of a statute that directly confronts this form of discrimination.

This timely work offers fresh insights into the school prayer debate and it makes a strong case for viewing this controversial issue from a new perspective.
 

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Contents

From Riots to Harassment?
3
The Christian Right and the Public Schools
19
The Current Legal Status of Public School Religious
44
The Social Context
74
Chapters Where Do We Go from Here? M
88
The Utility of Antidiscrimination Law
103
The Limitations of Using the Constitution
128
A Model for Protecting Religious Minorities
144
The Proposed Statute and the Free Speech and Free
176
Can Existing Law Help?
192
Somebody Make It Stop
206
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