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The subject of my lecture is parents, religion, and the schools. I will seek to sketch, and partly defend, a controversial proposition about the relationship among the three. My goal is less to persuade than to provoke. I want us all to think about the relationship in ways a little bit different from the mainstream.

Let me begin by telling you a story involving my own family.

My wife and I have two wonderful children. After my book, The Culture of Disbelief, was published in 1993, the publisher sent me on a book tour. One morning, I found myself in the studio of a radio station in New York City, as the guest on a talk show. The host and I were having a wonderful time batting around various ideas about the separation of church and state, the role of religion in politics, and other things, when, all at once, I was brought up short by a caller who said something like this: "Excuse me Professor Carter, did I hear you say that you and your wife send your children to a religious school?" I said, ''Yes.'' (I thought of answering no, we send them to an Episcopal school, but, as a good Episcopalian, I could hardly say that.) Upon hearing my answer, the caller asked: "Does that mean that you and your wife are trying to raise your children in your religion?" ''Yes,'' I said, "we are." She said, "I don't really think you should do that."

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