THE AMERICAN TRADITION IN RELIGION AND EDUCATION by E. Freeman Butts

THE AMERICAN TRADITION IN RELIGION AND EDUCATION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Another book in the timely and valuable Beacon Press Studies in Freedom and Power which constitute a disctint contribution to the discussion of the relation of church and state and specifically of the respective function of religion and education. In this volume, Professor Butts of Teachers College, New York, endeavors to set forth in its historical framework the principle of the separation of church and state. By careful documentation he outlines what was meant by this principle by the founding fathers, how the principle has been interpreted and practised throughout our history and what bearing it has upon the issues being so hotly debated today. Professor Butts takes the position that the provision of the Constitution prohibiting ""the establishment of religion"" makes any cooperation of the state with a religious group or groups unconstitutional. Therefore, any direct or indirect aid by federal or state government to religious institutions, such as the provision of free transportation or free textbooks, is unconstitutional. Furthermore, he maintains that Bible reading in schools can be interpreted as ""sectarian"", as is ""released time"" religious instruction, and both are unconstitutional. The author concedes that the American people have the sovereign right to alter this fundamental principle but takes the position that they should realize that in so doing they are changing an historical tradition. Many will challenge both the premises and conclusions of this book, but no one should speak or write on this important subject without taking into account the arguments advanced by Professor Butts.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1950
Publisher: Beacon Press