The often uninformed and partisan climate of the current dialogue about religion and public education makes this book, which provides a sane historical context for the debate, especially valuable. James W. Fraser succeeds in shedding light rather than heat on this potentially contentious issue.
During the years of apartheid in South Africa, most of the Methodist Church’s involvement in education was halted by the government. Schools were closed, land was confiscated and obstacles to new efforts were set in place.
Let a thousand lawsuits bloom. That’s pretty much what John DiIulio Jr. said after being selected to head President Bush’s new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. DiIulio cheerfully acknowledged that the government’s plan to encourage partnerships with religious groups raises First Amendment questions.
In the 1950s, the communist government of China expelled all foreign missionaries. Many Americans have seen black-and-white photos of missionary families sitting next to piles of luggage on the wharves of Shanghai, waiting to sail home. We know much about this event because the missionaries came home and wrote books about their dedication and their unrealized harvest.
In a decision hailed by supporters as a victory for the separation of church and state, a federal appeals court upheld a Fredericksburg, Virginia, policy that restricts praying “in Jesus’ name” at city council meetings.