In the current culture wars, religious liberals tend to ally themselves with the educational establishment against those on the Religious Right who are attacking the public schools. In politics and theology, I line up with the left. Nonetheless, I believe with the right that public education is hostile to religion—not least to liberal religion. The problem isn't the absence of school prayers. Schools respect the religious liberty of students in prohibiting religious exercises. There is no hostility to religion in that. The problem is that systematically excluding religious voices from the curriculum makes public education fundamentally illiberal—something that, ironically, most liberals fail to see.
Warren A. Nord directs the Program in the Humanities and Human Values and teaches philosophy of religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Religion and American Education: Rethinking a National Dilemma (1995) and, with Charles C. Haynes, Taking Religion Seriously Across the Curriculum (1998).