Keeping religion out of public schools in the Bible Belt is no easy chore, but the courts are clear: Administrators have to try
Church in schools
Sneed Middle School faculty, students and staff hold hands to pray during the "See You At The Pole" event. The nationwide movement, started in 1990, is intended for schools, families and leaders to ask God to bring moral and spiritual awakening to campuses and countries.
- Thou shalt, thou shall not
There’s a fine line between public schools allowing religious expression and encouraging or requiring it. Though they have fought for different sides in court, the ACLU and the Christian Legal Society agree on where the line that defines the separation of church and state currently stands. Here’s some current examples of what is and isn’t allowable in public schools.
Students CAN pray at lunch or any non-instructional time, and students, teachers and administrators CAN pray silently during a moment of silence …
…. But a teacher CANNOT lead her class in prayer and a administrator CANNOT pray at mandatory staff meetings.
Students CAN organize an after-school bible study and students CAN read religious texts during recess …
… But, a school CANNOT allow an outside group to come into a school, during school hours to evangelize, pass out bibles or leave religious literature, and administrators CANNOT include religious texts in email or text messages to staff members.
Students and teachers CAN participate in an after-school religious club, sponsored by an outside group, like the Good News Club or Young Life …
… But a school CANNOT schedule or sponsor an assembly or concert featuring a guest with a religious message.
PRAYER AT EVENTS
Student athletes CAN organize a prayer in the locker room before a game while coaches watch …
… But, schools CANNOT allow, or encourage, a formal invocation or prayer to be delivered before a football game or any athletic event.
DISPLAY ‘THE 10’
Students CAN post copies of the Ten Commandments on their person or property. …
… But, a school CANNOT post a copy of the Ten Commandments on school property.
Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013 5:05 pm
During his last year in charge of Chesterfield County Schools, Dr. John Williams found himself grappling with thorny religious issues at nearly every turn.
First a maverick middle school principal hosted a mandatory proselytizing rally complete with a Christian rapper during school hours, culminating in posting a tally of children “saved” on the gym scoreboard. With rights groups breathing down his neck in a lawsuit, he started making changes, much to the chagrin of most parents. But he couldn’t move fast enough and by the time Christmas rolled around, he was spending time with “carol counts,” the seemingly trivial task of figuring out just how many faith-based carols could be included in school choral concerts and still satisfy the Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Saturday, April 13, 2013 5:05 pm.