Editorial: Religion in the Public Square

April 27, 2003

Source: The New York Times


On April 27, 2003 The New York Times printed an editorial by Brent Staples stating that "New Yorkers sit uncomplainingly through subway sermons, but many of them would rightly be up in arms if, say, a Baptist revivalist set up shop at the local junior high school, gave a rousing sermon and then solicited students to give their lives to Jesus Christ. This is unlikely to happen in New York, where people provide each other maximum religious space. It is, however, allowable (as long as the revivalist is a student) under the guidelines issued earlier this year by the United States Department of Education... The Bush administration encountered a backlash earlier this month when Secretary of Education Rod Paige was quoted in The Baptist Press news service as saying that he would prefer to have a child in a Christian school, partly because the value system was set. Mr. Paige said that there were too many different values in the public schools to easily arrive at a value consensus... Some of the president's supporters tend to dismiss those who disagree with him as hostile to religion. But much of the discontent is in fact emanating from devout people who have spent as much time in the amen corner as Mr. Bush and who want only to preserve the spacious ecumenical spirit that has ruled the public square up to now."