Recommended Reading

Those of us who care about separation of church and state, and about religious tolerance and accommodation in American life, ­often wish that knowledge of the beliefs of the major religions could bFaith Ed Covere taught in schools, to lay the foundation for respect of alternative viewpoints. Linda K. Wertheimer (not the Linda Wertheimer from NPR) describes in Faith Ed a number of attempts to do just that, from her own experience in fourth grade with “The Church Lady”, a well-meaning lay teacher of weekly Christian lessons in the public schools of rural Ohio, to many unsuccessful and a few effective programs from Massachusetts to Texas, Florida, Kansas, and California. Teaching this subject in a community suspicious of minority religions, and especially Islam, is full of pitfalls. Wertheimer describes many of them, and a few programs that have proved effective. This book is highly recommended for parents, teachers, and school administrators who might be considering such a program. While AU vigorously opposes proselyting in public schools, teaching about religion is both constitutional and desirable, if it can be accomplished in a fair and evenhanded way. It can be done, as has been demonstrated in the public schools of Modesto, California.  The book is Faith Ed: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance, by Linda K. Wertheimer, Beacon Press 2015, 978-0-8070-5527-4.