The Molding of the Moral Man: The United States Civil Religion's Form and Use in Public Education
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis intention of this paper is to examine the impact of national perceptions of morality on the curriculum and function of the United States public school system. It begins by studying the original purpose of the public school, which was to maintain a functional republic by educating citizens in a basic form of moral and academic knowledge. This attempt needed to be balanced with the republican ideal of free speech, which prevented the state from adopting the moral views of a particular religion. The melding of free speech and universal education resulted in a general civil religion which encapsulated what the state believed to be the necessary moral ideals required for a functioning republic. The paper goes on to examine how changing cultural perceptions have resulted in a shift in the civil religion towards a more general form of morality. This shift, coupled with increased diversity of moral opinion within the United States, has resulted in public education becoming a less universal mode of distributing republican ideals than its founders had originally intended.
Degree ProgramHonors College