Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Felmon Davis

Second Advisor

Clifford Brown




religious, religion, students, beliefs, truth


Americans have grappled with church and state relations since the birth of the nation. One important battleground between the secular and religious is in public education. Two centuries after the American public school systems were developed; religion in the classroom continues to be a contentious issue. Currently, public schools are afraid to touch the issue of religion and explore it academically even though it has been an enormous source of influence and conflict throughout civilization, let alone the history of the United States. Students are taught about the broad basic beliefs and practices of a religion, but are not able to critically examine religious truth claims. Allowing students to examine whether religious beliefs are legitimate coincides with the purposes of a liberal education, which examines all possible avenues of truth. Once students have a better understanding of the justifications for various religious beliefs, they will be better equipped to understand and operate in today’s religiously plural world. My proposal is not to challenge the religious beliefs of students, but simply explore the truth claims religion makes about reality and the purpose of life. Students will be taught how to think independently and critically about religious truth claims, which will open a much-needed dialogue between secular and religious views about the nature of religion.