In the Light of Reverence – Freedom of Religion: A Supreme Court Simulation

Lesson Duration

From PBS documentary series POV – Documentaries with a point of view
Lesson Author: Joan Brodsky Schur

This lesson plan explores the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Students view In the Light of Reverence , a 72-minute documentary on Native American struggles to protect landscapes of spiritual significance. The film tells the stories of three communities (the Lakota at Devils Tower in Wyoming, the Hopi in the Four Corners area of the Southwest, and the Wintu at Mt. Shasta in California), and examines conflicting opinions about how a site held sacred by the Wintu Indians of California should be used today.

Students look at five historic Supreme Court cases (1972-2000) based on freedom of religion that provide the basis for students to research and present hearings before a Supreme Court of fellow students, following Supreme Court procedures.

Objectives – Students will:

-Understand the Establishment Clause and Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment
-Learn how these clauses apply to land held sacred by several American Indian nations
-Learn how the Supreme Court functions to resolve conflicts arising under the First Amendment
-Learn how to formulate arguments as they reenact several key decisions made by the Supreme Court concerning First Amendment rights.

Go to: In the Light of Reverence – Freedom of Religion: A Supreme Court Simulation


American Documentary Inc. is the producer of the PBS documentary series POV. "American Documentary is a leading nonprofit media organization dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary nonfiction stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media."