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Linda Przybyszewski
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)
The Unexpected Origins of Modern Religious Liberty

A book chronicling the 1869 Cincinnati school board vote to end Bible reading in public schools, which sparked mass protest across the nation and a lawsuit that lasted over four years.

In the fall of 1869, the Cincinnati school board took a vote to end Bible reading in the public schools, sparking mass protests, angry newspaper editorials across the nation, and a lawsuit that dragged on for four years. The Bible War has attracted attention from legal scholars, but they misidentify it as the simple triumph of secularists over religious believers, and miss its dramatic potential as a struggle over the meaning of religious liberty. The story of the Bible War sweeps us back to a time when Protestants and Catholics often saw one another as enemies and schooling as their weapon. It reminds us that arguments over the meaning of religious liberty and the value of religious pluralism are not new; they developed early in a country peopled by immigrants and spiritual seekers. The legal brief which won the case for the board reveals how religious faith could be more than an obstacle to the development of religious liberty; it was often essential to its defense.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
History, General; Religion, General

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016