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Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers

Freedom of Religion

Ninth-grade civics teacher Kristen Borges involves her students at Southwest High School in Minnesota in a simulation of a U.S. Supreme Court hearing on a First Amendment case. Students assume the roles of Supreme Court justices, attorneys for the school district, and attorneys for the families. They first work in groups to prepare for the hearing, then participate in the hearing, and finally, debrief their experiences and write short papers stating their positions on the case. The methodologies highlighted in this lesson include questioning strategies and mock trials.

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Test Your Knowledge (Before Watching)

Freedom of Religion — Quiz

Take this quiz to test your knowledge about the topics discussed in this workshop:

  1. If a student leads a prayer over the P.A. system before a football game between two public high schools which is approved by the school administration, the Supreme Court of the United States would probably:
     rule that it was allowed as long as the prayer did not favor a specific religion
     rule that it violates the first amendment of the constitution
     apply the “Lemon” test to determine the constitutionality of the action
  2. Freedom of religion in the United States constitution has two distinct parts. One of them is called the “establishment clause” and prohibits the government from establishing a state religion that all must belong to or abide by. The other part:

     guarantees the separation of church and state
     prohibits prayer in the public schools
     allows the recognition of national holidays such as Christmas
     ensures that all people will be able to practice their religion

  3. Which of the following activities has the court upheld as constitutional:

     a prayer delivered by a rabbi at a public middle school graduation ceremony
     a moment of silence at the beginning of the school day for the purpose of encouraging silent student prayer
     a student bible study club that meets on school grounds after school classes have been completed


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Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers


Produced by State of the Art, Inc., in collaboration with the National Council for the Social Studies and the Center for Civic Education. 2003.
  • Closed Captioning
  • ISBN: 1-57680-679-0