- Education and Science
Religious Freedom in Schools
We Still Have Freedom of Religion in School
In America, we have freedom of religion. We also have freedom of speech. While many courts decisions have gone various ways, the law remains the same, and it should not be forgotten. These rights are for ALL Americans...even the ones under age 18...and they don't go away when they cross onto public school property.
It is important that we, and our students, understand what is allowed (and what is not) in respect to religion and expressing religious beliefs in school. Students of faith (any faith) should be aware that they can practice their beliefs within the school, so they do not allow over-cautious adults suppress their freedoms.
(Photo by soylentgreen23)
Religious Freedom Day - January 16
Faith Has Not Been Expelled From Schools
Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion Extend to Students
Students in school, yes public school, are allowed to pray. They are allowed to talk and share their religion with other students. They are allowed to arrange meetings in order to do so. They are allowed to read their holy texts. They are even allowed to be excused from class in order to preform religious activities (such as Muslim students praying during Ramadan).
Here are some excerpts from Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools which is posted on a the Department of Education's website (ed.gov):
- Students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
- Students may pray when not engaged in school activities or instruction, subject to the same rules designed to prevent material disruption of the educational program that are applied to other privately initiated expressive activities.
- Students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other noninstructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities.
- Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and "see you at the pole" gatherings before school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups. Such groups must be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other non-curricular groups, without discrimination because of the religious content of their expression.
- Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions.
- Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, however, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.
- Teachers may meet with other teachers for prayer or Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in other conversation or nonreligious activities.
View Barack Obama's
Presidential Proclamation of Religious Freedom Day 2012
Religious Freedom and the Constitution
From one of America's most distinguished moral philosophers, a sweeping historically based argument that equal respect for all citizens is the bedrock of America's tradition of religious freedom.
In one of the great triumphs of the colonial and Revolutionary periods, the founders of the future United States overcame religious intolerance in favor of a constitutional order dedicated to fair treatment for people's deeply held conscientious beliefs. It granted equal liberty of conscience to all and took a firm stand against religious establishment. This respect for religious difference, acclaimed scholar Martha Nussbaum writes, formed our democracy.
Do you believe we truly have Freedom of Religion in public schools?
Yes, I do.
"Public schools can neither foster religion nor preclude it. Our public schools must treat religion with fairness and respect and vigorously protect religious expression as well as the freedom of conscience of all other students. In so doing our public schools reaffirm the First Amendment and enrich the lives of their students".
---Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley June 1998
Freedom of Religion
does not mean
Freedom From Religion!