Week 5: Wrapping up Religion in Public Life


1. Hold discussion/moot court on the Van Orden v. Perry case

2. Distribute exam questions.


Dover Area High School Photo1. Watch Intelligent Design on Trial.

2. Consider the statement the Dover School Board required teachers to read:

On November 19, 2004, the Dover Area School District issued a press release stating that, commencing in January 2005, teachers would be required to read the following statement to students in the ninth-grade biology class at Dover High School:

“The Pennsylvania Academic Standards require students to learn about Darwin‘s theory of evolution and eventually to take a standardized test of which evolution is a part.Because Darwin’s Theory is a theory, it is still being tested as new evidence is discovered. The Theory is not a fact. Gaps in the Theory exist for which there is no evidence. A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.Intelligent design is an explanation of the origin of life that differs from Darwin’s view. The reference book, Of Pandas and People, is available for students to see if they would like to explore this view in an effort to gain an understanding of what intelligent design actually involves.As is true with any theory, students are encouraged to keep an open mind. The school leaves the discussion of the origins of life to individual students and their families. As a standards-driven district, class instruction focuses upon preparing students to achieve proficiency on standards-based assessments.”
Unit One assessment. You may bring one, one-sided 3 x 5 card with you to class.
Thursday & Friday
We will be in the LMC finalizing our possible topics for the semester. You’ll be working on this ballot. today and tomorrow. You may also consider reviewing the list we looked at a couple weeks ago. Be sure to look through these sites…they are replete with possibilities!

Week 4: Religion: Context and Application


Inside/Outside discussion

  • Freedom of Expression cases
  • Establishment Clause cases

Tuesday & Wednesday

What can modern history tell us about religion in America? We’ll be watching God in America: On God and Caesar and completing a viewing guide.

Discussion of the documentary. How does this history help us understand Supreme Court decisions? Issues that arise as a result of the intersection of public life and religion.

Texas State Caitol

Thursday & Friday

1. US Supreme Court Syllabus for Van Orden v. Perry

2. Split Ruling on Ten Commandments Displays

3. Van Orden v. Perry (2004)…from Oyez

4. Why Breyers was wrong in Van Orden

5. Supreme Court on a Shoestring

Listen to oral arguments for Van Orden 

Week 3: Role of Religion in Public Life


1. Writing sample. JQ. What are you initial reactions to religion in society? What are the various perspectives that you know about?

2. Where are the pressing and controversial issues?

  1. Prayers in government schools? (foxnews.com)
  2. Is teaching yoga in schools too religious? (channel3000.com)
  3. Sultaana Lakiana Myke Freeman case, 2006
  4. SCOTUS hears Religious Freedom Case  (wsj.com)


1. Understanding the Court Systems

  1. US Courts of Appeals and US Federal District Courts System Map
  2. Wisconsin Court System and map
  3. How a case gets to the Wisconsin Supreme Court | Wisconsin Circuit Courts
    • concern a significant constitutional (federal or state) question;
    • or once decided, will develop, clarify, or harmonize existing law(s);
    • or have not been decided by the Court before; or
      are of statewide importance;
    • or present a question of law that will likely reoccur unless resolved by the Court;
    • or have resulted in conflicting decisions in the lower courts;
    • or although previously decided, may be ripe for reexamination due to changing times
      and circumstances.
  4. Comparison of the federal vs. Wisconsin court systems

2. Create outline for essay on religion in public life. Due Wednesday.


Take the Pew Religion in Public Life Quiz.

1. Upcoming religious issues in the SCOTUS.

2. What do the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses say?

3. How might to Court rule on the upcoming case Town of Greece v. Galloway?


1. Discussion on preliminary position papers.

2. Continue discussion and readings about Town of Greece v Galloway. Read this summary.

Thursday/Friday (in LMC)

1. Gather details on significant court cases involving religion in public life (uva.edu)

2. Use the Oyez project to read the actual opinions.