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Religious Freedom in Public Schools—Clarifying Controversies & Finding Common Ground

September 18, 2018 - 7:00pm EDT

Does religion belong in public schools? Should we teach—or even talk about—religion in public schools?

Part 1 of a two-part webinar series. 

See part 2 here

Teachers and administrators face increasing religious diversity in their classrooms but often cannot answer these questions. Teacher education has long neglected religion, leaving teachers and administrators without the legal literacy to appropriately address religion in constitutionally sound and academically rigorous ways.

This webinar will provide educators with an introduction to the First Amendment principles that are used to promote both religious literacy and religious liberty in public schools. Participants will practice applying these principles to common, challenging situations faced by educators. Join faculty members from the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, a nonpartisan national initiative focused on educating the public about the history, meaning, and significance of religious freedom and promoting dialogue and understanding among people of all religions and none.

Part 2, Teaching about Religion in a Polarized Age: Guidelines and Resources.

Free for NCSS Members; 
$40 non-members



Benjamin MarcusBenjamin P. Marcus is the religious literacy specialist with the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, where he examines the intersection of education, religious literacy, and identity formation in the United States. He has developed religious literacy programs for public schools, universities, U.S. government organizations, and private foundations, and he has delivered presentations on religion at universities and nonprofits in the U.S. and abroad. He has worked closely with the U.S. State Department, Interfaith Youth Core, the Foundation for Religious Literacy, and the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme in the United Kingdom. In February 2018, Marcus was accepted as a Fulbright Specialist for a period of three years. As a Specialist, he will share his expertise on religion and education with select host institutions abroad. Marcus chaired the writing group for the Religious Studies Companion Document to the C3 Framework, a nationally recognized set of guidelines used by state and school district curriculum experts for social studies standards and curriculum development. He is a contributing author in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on Religion and American Education, where he writes about the importance of religious literacy education. In 2015 he served as executive editor of the White Paper of the Sub-Working Group on Religion and Conflict Mitigation of the State Department’s Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group. Marcus earned an MTS with a concentration in Religion, Ethics, and Politics as a Presidential Scholar at Harvard Divinity School. He studied religion at the University of Cambridge and Brown University, where he graduated magna cum laude.


Kristen LooneyKristen Looney is director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. From 2012 to 2016, she was the head of programs and partnerships for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in the United States. Previously, Kristen served as chaplain and department chair of religious studies at St. Paul’s School for Girls in Baltimore, Maryland and St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson, Maryland.  Prior, Kristen served as clergy in parishes in Florida, California, and New York. Kristen is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Maryland. She is an awarded graduate of Yale Divinity School (M.Div.), studied at the University of Freiburg, Germany – Junior Year Abroad, and is an honors graduate from the College of Wooster (B.A.)


Kate Soules is a faculty member at the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute. She is also a Ph.D. student at Boston College Lynch School of Education studying Curriculum and Instruction. Her current research explores how K-12 teachers are prepared, in formal and informal ways, to teach about religion and respond to religious diversity in the classroom. Soules is also interested in how religion and spirituality are represented, or not represented, in the existing curricula, how non-religious traditions are addressed in education about religion, and the relationship between education about religion and enriching civil discourse. She initiated and currently leads the Religion & Education Collaborative, a network of scholars working in the field of religion and education and related disciplines. The network hosts regular virtual meetings for members to share work, to discuss issues in their field, and to work across disciplines to further the field of religion and education.