The following classroom resource is offered to teachers who would like
to use St. Anthony Messenger in the classroom. This resource is
prepared with high school students in mind, but can be adapted for other
age groups. We will feature one article for classroom use each month.
Back issues, beginning in May 1997, contain a Teachers Guide. Teachers
with access to computer labs should encourage students to access the article
directly online. Students have our permission to print out a copy of the
article for classroom use. We encourage you and your students to subscribe
to the print edition of St. Anthony Messenger, where you will see
all of the graphics, and more articles that you might find useful on a
variety of topics. Please let us know how we can improve this service
by sending feedback to StAnthony@franciscanmedia.org.
"Reviving the Religious Freedom
This resource guide will support curriculum in several areas:
Idea One - Researching and Understanding the Role of the Supreme Court
in Religious Issues
Government - the federal judicial process
History - the Constitution; the Bill of Rights; freedom of religion
Comparative Religion - religious diversity in America
Social Studies - political processes
A. Glossary of Basic Terms
Your students may find it helpful first to create a glossary of terms
relating to the federal judicial process in the United States and to
religious freedom. A number of sources are readily available, most of
which your students are already familiar with. The Internet, encyclopedias,
textbooks and dictionaries are the most obvious. Books mentioned in
this resource guide will also help.
Terms to define will include:
Justice of the Supreme Court
|Bill of Rights
|National Council of Churches
|United States Catholic Conference
Your students may want to add other terms to the list as they work
through this topic. For a good glossary online, use http://www.uscourts.gov/understanding_courts/.
B. Foundations of Religious FreedomThe Intentions of the Founding
What were the original intentions of the Founding Fathers regarding
freedom of religion? The Founding Fathers created a legal framework
where government would not establish or interfere with the religion
of its citizens, a far-reaching concept when most of the nation then
was predominantly Protestant and Christian. Your students may find it
challenging to research what motivated the writers of the Constitution
in establishing the basic freedoms, including religion.
Look at the Web site http://www.biography.com
for brief biographies of the more well-known Founding Fathers: John
Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Aaron Burr, James Madison. Jefferson and Madison
had especially strong roles. And include in your research Thomas Paine,
whose writings influenced the Founding Fathers. A sampling of books
will include: Thomas Paine, Jerome D. Wilson and William F.
Ricketson, Twayne Publishers, Boston, 1989; and Tom Paine,
John Keane, Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1995. Keane's prologue
tells us that Paine's idea of citizenship included a country that could
boast of empty jails, no beggars in the streets, no aged in want, no
ignorance or distress among the poor (page xiii).
for First Amendment freedom issues. This site will give you a guide
to online periodicals and reports relating to religious freedom.
C. The Role of the Supreme Court and Its Justices
1. Pertinent Texts and Documents
for documents and sites concerning religious freedom.
For an overview of religious liberty as defined by U.S. Supreme Court
cases, see http://w3.trib.com/FACT/1st.religion.html.
Here you'll find information on recent decisions affecting the public
display of Nativity scenes and religion in public schools. This site
will also provide the text of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
You can also find the Act's text at http://www.welcomehome.org/rainbow/nfs-regs/rfra-act.html.
2. Factors in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act Decision
Your students can research the background and characteristics of the
current Supreme Court Justices, and what influences affect their decisions.
The article's author tells us that liberal and conservative tags alone
don't explain why the Justices repealed the Religious Freedom Restoration
Act. What did influence their decision? Is there anything in
their backgrounds that may have affected their decisions?
For a start, try the Web site http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/index.html
for Cornell University's Legal Information Institute (LII). Here you'll
the text of the Supreme Court decision on the Religious Freedom
Supreme Court rules, jurisdictions, definitions
a gallery of former and current Justices, including pictures, biographies
and voting decisions
a summary of the cases on the current calendar
Viewing the Web site of The National Catholic Reporter http://www.natcath.com,
a weekly newspaper, will give you access to commentary by Robert F.
Drinan, a Jesuit professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University
Law Center. Look for the site's archive section, then search under Drinan's
name. You'll find two commentaries:
"The Supreme Court's Brennan Left Rich Legacy" from August 15,
1997, about the influence of one of only eight Catholic Justices
to serve on the Supreme Court.
"Ruling Revives Religious Freedom Effort" from July 18, 1997, a
strong commentary on the Supreme Court decision on the Religious
Freedom Restoration Act. Note Drinan's point about the strong and
unusual coalition of groups supporting the RFRA, including the American
Civil Liberties Union, the Catholic bishops, the Christian coalition
and many Jewish groups.
D. Youth and the Legal System
To assist your students in better understanding and relating to the
country's legal system, try these resources. Online you can access Newsweek
Education Program Resources (http://school.newsweek.com)
for teacher materials relating to government. One of their offerings
is "New York State 12th Grade 'Participation in Government' Course."
They offer a 98-page guide/package for Social Studies educators. With
this package, your students could draw a political profile of their
community or discuss the "office" of citizen. Samples are available
See also http://www.usdoj.gov,
the Department of Justice site. They are developing a "Justice for Kids
and Youth" section within their site. Also see http://www.uscourts.gov
for clear explanations of the federal courts, the path of a case and
Another useful site is http://www.usscplus.com.
Your students can find here the text of the Amistad case, recently
portrayed in the film of the same name. Within this site, you will also
find an introduction to the Supreme Court (http://www.usscplus.com/info/).
How specific laws apply to teenagers can be seen in the book, Teen
Legal Rights: A Guide for the '90s, Kathleen A. Hempelman, Greenwood
Press, Westport, Connecticut, 1994. This covers issues with driving,
at school, on the job, alcohol and drugs and other pertinent topics.
Idea TwoReligious Diversity in Our Country
A. Knowledge as a Weapon Against Ignorance and Bigotry
The article's author contends that religious freedom issues will increase
as minority religions become a greater factor in American life. Small,
unpopular religions will be most at risk. Legislators and other government
officials can inflict hurt simply by not knowing anything about religions
and their practices and beliefs. Your students can benefit from knowing
more about their own and other religions.
For a characteristic outline of the diverse religious groups in one
American county, see the site describing the annual Religious Diversity
Faire at the University of California at Irvine in California's Orange
B. The "Battlegrounds" of Religious Freedom and Diversity
1. The author tells us that our country's public schools are the major
battleground for religious freedom today. Using the article, ask your
students to research in small groups and then report to the class several
religious issues that have been or are controversial in our public schools.
The students might also profit from inviting their own school principal
to speak to them about the problems encountered on the job as a principal.
Another alternative is to invite a neighboring school principal or the
school district superintendent to speak. Catholic school students could
open a fruitful dialogue by asking a public school principal to speak.
Your students can access their senators and representatives in Washington,
D.C., through the Internet or by regular mail. They may wish to ask
questions of them, or even conduct a campaign to lobby for student beliefs
and values. Look at http://www.house.gov,
enter your state and zip code, and find the name, biography, address
and other information on the representatives. Or try http://www.senate.gov
for the same data on senators.
2. The American family is often a prime example of religious diversity.
For several commentaries, see the "Society" section of Newsweek,
December 15, 1997: "Living-Room Crusaders" and "A Matter of Faith."
Your students can read and discuss these commentaries. Some of them
may even have experienced this firsthand in their own families. The
articles are available through America Online. Look for AOL "Channels,"
then "News," then Newsweek Interactive, then search under "religious
diversity" for the two articles.
3. You may also find it helpful to refer to other St. Anthony Messenger
articles and corresponding online resource pages:
Religious freedom in Vietnam is discussed in the January 1998 article
"Vietnam Today: A Time of Healing."
For a Catholic minority perspective in the predominantly Mormon
state of Utah, see "Catholics Among the Mormons" in the October
The July 1997 article "Priest and Rabbi: the Media's God Squad,"
describes a New York-based interfaith television team.
4. As a sidebar to the discussion of religious diversity, see the Ellis
Island Web site. As your students probably know, 20 million immigrants
to this country processed through Ellis Island in New York Harbor between
1892 and 1924. Many of these immigrants came seeking religious freedom.
This site offers photos and information on the museum now on Ellis Island.
Try accessing some of these Internet sources for reference. Be aware,
however, that some of these sites may charge for downloading articles
contained within the sites archives.
New York Times
Los Angeles Times
This site will take you to a number of online publications
http://wire.ap.org/ The Associated
The Chicago Tribune
The Washington Post
You can reach "Timelines of War" and other specific timelines through
pathfinder.com, listed above. Some are authored by
David Brownstone and Irene Franck, whose book is listed below in "Print
- a history of communications media decade by decade through the centuries.
Here are print resources you may find helpful.
What Happened When, Gordon Carruth, Signet, New York, 1989.
A source for time lines in American history.
Timelines of the 20th Century, David Brownstone and Irene
Franck, Little Brown. This is a trade paperback available for $19.95.
The links contained within this resource guide are functional
at the time the page is posted. Over time, however, some of the links
may become ineffective.
These links are provided solely as a convenience to you
and not as an endorsement by St. Anthony Messenger Press/Franciscan
Communications of the contents on such third-party Web sites. St. Anthony
Messenger Press/Franciscan Communications is not responsible for the
content of linked third-party sites and does not make any representations
regarding the content or accuracy of materials on such third-party Web
sites. If you decide to access linked third-party Web sites, you do
so at your own risk.