Where is the division of church and state??????? It is my understanding this has been available for three years. Why wasn’t this information disseminated years ago? It doesn’t matter if people think it s nice- it s unconstitutional.

Written by on May 25, 2017 in Grapevine

A. Your information is incorrect, it has not been available for three years.  As for it being unconstitutional, you are also incorrect.

Section 9524 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (“ESEA”) of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, as well as a condition of receiving ESEA funds, a local educational agency (“LEA”) must certify in writing to its State educational agency (“SEA”) that it has no policy that prevents, or otherwise denies participation in, constitutionally protected prayer in public schools.

The relationship between religion and government in the United States is governed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which both prevents the government from establishing religion and protects privately initiated religious expression and activities from government interference and discrimination. The First Amendment thus establishes certain limits on the conduct of public school officials as it relates to religious activity, including prayer.

The legal rules that govern the issue of constitutionally protected prayer in the public schools are similar to those that govern religious expression generally. The Supreme Court’s decisions over the past forty years set forth principles that distinguish impermissible governmental religious speech from the constitutionally protected private religious speech of students.

Although the Constitution forbids public school officials from directing or favoring prayer, students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate,” and the Supreme Court has made clear that “private religious speech, far from being a First Amendment orphan, is as fully protected under the Free Speech Clause as secular private expression.” Moreover, not all religious speech that takes place in the public schools or at school-sponsored events is governmental speech. For example, “nothing in the Constitution … prohibits any public school student from voluntarily praying at any time before, during, or after the school day,”  and students may pray with fellow students during the school day on the same terms and conditions that they may engage in other conversation or speech. Likewise, local school authorities possess substantial discretion to impose rules of order and pedagogical restrictions on student activities, but they may not structure or administer such rules to discriminate against student prayer or religious speech.

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