An Outline History of
Religion in American Schools

"The Philosophy of the school room in one generation . . .
will be the Philosophy of Government in the next." 
Abraham Lincoln

1620 Mayflower Compact signed "Having undertaken for the glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith . . .  furtherance of the ends aforesaid."   The Pilgrims taught their children the Bible and the Christian  faith.
1624 Virginia General Assembly rules that Indian children be rounded up and educated in religion and civilization.
1636 Harvard College owes its foundation to John Harvard a Congregational minister, who gave half his estate and books to the school.  Harvard was primarily as a religious school to train clergy in the Christian faith. 
1642 Compulsory School law passed in Massachusetts, called the “Old Deluder Satan Law”.   This law  was passed to assure that children could read their Bibles. 
1670 Indian Christian Church founded on Martha's Vineyard to educate Indians.
1690 Connecticut Law passed that children be taught to read so they can read Holy Scriptures.
1690 First New England Primer is published.  The Alphabet is taught using Bible verses for each letter, and has questions on Bible moral teachings.  The Primer contains children's prayers, the Lords Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Shorter Catechism and questions on the Bible by Mr. Cotton.  The New England Primer will be in wide use in American schools of all types public, private, home or parochial, for the next 200 years.
1693 Rev. James Blair establishes William and Mary college to prepare students for the ministry.
1699 Yale was founded by ten ministers in order to further the reformed Protestant religion.  Students were required to read Scriptures morning and evening at times of prayer.
1717 Rev. Cotton Mather starts classes for Negroes and Indians to teach the 3 "R's" plus religion.
1744 Anglican missionary Samuel Thomas opens school for Negroes in South Carolina.
1745 Yale applicants must recite Vigil, the Greek Testament, & bring sufficient testimony of his blameless and inoffensive life.
1746 Princeton was founded by the Presbyterians with the Rev. Jonathan Dickinson as its first president.  Every student shall attend worship in the college hall morning and evening at the hours appointed and shall behave with gravity and reverence during the whole service.
1746 Moravian boarding school established for girls is not limited to believers.
1764 Brown University established by the Baptist to further the religious revival known as the "Great Awakening" in America.
1766 Dutch Reform Church forms Queens College (Rutgers University) teaching languages, liberal and useful arts, sciences and especially the divinity, preparing students for the ministry.
1769 Dartmouth-College is established for the education and instruction of youths in reading, writing and all parts of learning which shall appear necessary and expedient for civilizing and Christianizing the children.
1770 California Missions established teaching Indians about God.
1770 Quakers open school for Negroes in Philadelphia which include religious training.
1779 Delaware Indians bring children to George Washington for education, and Washington says "You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ."
1781 Congress approves the purchase of Bibles to be used in schools.
1783 First Noah Webster (Blue Book) Speller is published, with its opening sentence declaring: "No man may put off the law of God."  This speller is widely used in American schools and is peppered throughout with Bible verses.  Later versions stated, "Noah Webster who taught millions to read but not one to sin." 
1784 Jedediah Morse, father of American Geography, publishes the first Geography text book which contains references to Christianity.
1787  Congress passes the Northwest Ordinance which is outlines requirements for governments of new territories so they can qualify for statehood.  Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance directs the people of the territories to establish schools "to teach religion, morality, and knowledge.”   Nearly every state admitted to the Union after this has written in their State Constitution wording that the schools are to teach morality and religion and they all use the Bible as the bases for their teachings.
1789 Georgetown becomes the first Catholic college in America to serve as a college and seminary to train Roman Catholic clergymen. 
1796 In Washington's Presidential farewell address to the nation he encourages America to learn Biblical teachings to sustain a moral and just country. 
1802 Thomas Jefferson acting as President for Washington D.C. schools requires the Bible and the Watts Hymnal to be used in classrooms.
1808 Washington's Farewell Address is published as a separate text book.  Washington's Address is looked upon as one of the most important political documents in American history.  In the speech Washington emphases that for America to succeed it must have a moral society which can only come from roots in the Christian faith.  This text book is used until 1960's.
1828 Noah Webster publishes the American Dictionary.
1830 Dr. Benjamin Rush signer of the Declaration of Independence, letter is published in support of using the Bible as a school textbook.
1830 First Log school house opens in Keokuk, Iowa. 
1836  First McGuffey reader is published which teaches the ABC's along with Bible verses.  This reader is looked at as an "eclectic reader" which combine instructive axioms and proverbs, fundamentals of grammar and selections of the finest English literature.
1844 Girard proposes to teach morals without the Bible.  The Supreme Court rules that American schools are to teach Christianity using the Bible.  The case is argued and won by Daniel Webster. (Videl v. Girard) 
1860 First Kindergarten opens in Boston.
1867 Morehouse College and Howard University are founded.  Both schools are to help ex-slaves become teachers and preachers.
1870 One room Public Schools begin to take hold in the U.S. 
1890 Supreme Court rules that America “is a religious people. . . . this is a Christian nation” as such it is fitting that its people would teach their children the Christian faith. (The Trinity Case)
1892 Pledge of Allegiance is written for school children to recite at school.
1892 The American Teachers Union declare that schools should continue to teach morals from the Bible as schools are turned over to the various States from the Christian Churches.  Prior to this many schools had been run by churches of various denominations.  Many state Constitution's mandate the teaching of morals, religion and knowledge.
Of the first 108 colleges and universities founded in America, 106 where founded as Christian schools.  Of the first 126 colleges, 123 were Christian.
1900 Virtually all school text books published to date have contained Biblical references or teachings.
1923 William Jennings Bryan argues to limit funds to Presbyterian schools that teach evolution.
1925 Tennessee governor signs law forbidding the teaching of evolution in public schools.  ACLU Lawyers take a school district to court in the famous Scopes Monkey Trial in an effort to have evolution taught in Tennessee Public Schools.
1925 Florida State legislators pass law requiring daily Bible reading in public schools.
1946 Dallas schools publish textbook titled "Bible Studies Course for New Testament."  This book has many questions and answers about the life of Jesus Christ.
1948 Supreme Court rules that time set aside for prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. (McCollum v. Board of Education) 
1954 The words "One Nation Under God" are add to the Pledge of Allegiance.
1961 There are about 1000 Christian Schools in America.
1962 Supreme Court rules that children may not recite a state written prayer in school (Engel v. Vitale).
1963 Supreme Court bans individual school prayer (Murry v. Curlett) and Bible reading in public schools (Abington Township School District v. Schempp). 
1965 Supreme Court rules that a child may pray silently to himself if no one knows he is praying and his lips do not move.
1980 U.S. schools report the lowest S.A.T. scores ever, after 18 straight years of decline following the 1962 ban on school prayer.
1980 Supreme Court rules that the Ten Commandments can not be posted in classrooms, "for a child might read them, reflect upon them and then obey them."  (Stone vs. Graham) 
1983 President Reagan proposes a Constitutional Amendment to allow school prayer. 
1984 There are now 32,000 Christian Schools in America to counter the Supreme Courts secularizing of the public school system.
1985 Supreme Court strikes down Alabama law requiring schools to have a moment of silent meditation at the beginning of the day. 
1987 Supreme Court overturns a State Law requiring a balanced treatment of creation science and evolution.  (Edwards vs. Aguillard) 
1992 Supreme Court rules Clergy may not offer prayer at graduation ceremonies.  (Lee vs. Weisman
1999 Two Students at Littleton, Colorado High School shoot eleven students.  None of the students have ever seen the Ten Commandments, "Thou shall not Kill" in a public school.  
2000 Supreme Court rules student initiated or student led prayer at football games is unconstitutional.  (Doe vs. Santa Fe Independent School District)
2004 Supreme Court upholds the words "One Nation Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
2008 Christian run schools and most home schooling programs continue to produce students with higher academic test results then secular public schools.  

The Supreme Court has done more to turn this Nation away from God,
 then any other branch of the Government. 

Introduction      Site Map     Morals in Education & Society

Impact of Banning God from Our Schools    

Quotes from the Founding Fathers on Morals and Religion

Last Update Jul. 2012