Last year Congress passed a funding bill (the Education for Economic Security Act of 1984) containing a clause prohibiting the use of federal money, in “magnet” schools, for any course of instruction that local education authorities deemed to reflect the values of “secular humanism.” In its infinite wisdom, Congress did not see fit to define this term. But some local school boards have found a lexical authority in a 1961 Supreme Court decision written by Hugo L. Black. According to Justice Black, secular humanism is “among the religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God.” Like many of the Court’s loose definitions, this one is sufficiently broad to have encouraged some opponents of secular humanism to identify it with moral relativism, sexual permissiveness, and abortion; birth-control and drug-abuse programs in the schools; and the teaching...

 
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