IHAL Religion in the Curriculum
Title Religion in the Curriculum
Office/Custodian Education/Director of Culture & Services
Informed by the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution, which specifies that congress will make no law respecting the establishment of religion, public entities should neither promote nor disparage any religion. In accordance with the aforementioned, School District 49 will not develop, acquire, nor present any curriculum that is intended to promote or disparage any particular religion, or serves to proselytize for a particular religion. However, the bible may be taught as literature, lessons may be taught about the role of religion and religious institutions in history, or courses may be offered on comparative religion if the latter’s intent is not to promote or disparage any particular religion. For example, to study the Bible without violating constitutional limits, the class would have to include critical rather than devotional readings and allow open inquiry into the history and content of biblical passages.
Informed by the Free Expression Clause of the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution, which specifies that governments may not “unduly infringe” religious exercise, the Supreme Court has ruled that this conduct remains subject to regulation for the protection of society to prevent professed doctrines of religious belief from becoming superior to the law of the land. In accordance with the aforementioned, School District 49 will not sponsor any religious-based curriculum or associated practice in a school environment that constructively violates federal, state, or local legislation. Hence, religious beliefs do not override legislation that requires inclusive academic environments, which are free from harassment and discrimination.
School district employees retain the right to Free Expression in their private lives; however, they cannot promote practices or display artifacts that would violate the Establishment clause while on district property during traditional business hours. Personal items such as religiously based jewelry are not a violation of the Establishment Clause unless it is referenced as part of dialogue intended to promote or disparage any religion. However clothing, which features religious text in a manner that is intended to be disparaging to any person or group, would constitute a violation of this policy. School district facilities may be utilized for religious activities by approved student groups, or after traditional business hours, but no religious group should be given favor or excluded from the opportunity to use district facilities. Other than in the context of appropriate student free speech or approved student-run clubs, it is not acceptable for individuals to deliver purely religious lessons on district property during traditional business hours. However, it is permissible to release students to attend religious education at non-district facilities if it does not remove them from required instruction and their parents have agreed to their participation. School District 49 shall observe neutrality in matters of religion; neither opposing nor promoting religion to ensure a culture of fairness abides within the district’s schools and community.
Adopted: November 3, 1977
Reviewed: September 2, 1999
Revised: July 8, 2010
Revised: August 11, 2016
Reviewed: September 12, 2019