For example, can a class on the Bible as literature be taught without a bias for or against the idea that the Bible is religious truth? (The new survey finds that 26% of religiously affiliated teens in public school say they often or sometimes pray before eating lunch.). CLS sued a number of law schools after they denied the group official recognition because this leadership policy violated the schools’ nondiscrimination policies. Students may offer a prayer or blessing before meals in school or assemble on school grounds for religious purposes to the same extent as other students who wish to express their personal views or assemble with others. The Supreme Court’s decisions about officially sponsored religious expression in schools consistently draw a distinction between religious activities such as worship or Bible reading, which are designed to inculcate religious sentiments and values, and “teaching about religion,” which is both constitutionally permissible and educationally appropriate. School officials, parents and students -- as well as lawyers and judges -- wrestle with these questions every day. After Hastings refused to exempt CLS from the policy – known as the “all-comers” policy – the group sued, claiming the policy violated its First and 14th Amendment rights to free speech, expressive association and freedom of religious expression. The court reasoned that once the school day ended, Wigg became a private citizen, leaving her free to be a Good News Club instructor at any school, including the one where she worked. Circuit Court of Appeals approved a system at a Florida high school in which the senior class, acting independently of school officials, selected a class member to deliver a commencement address. The most famous of the cases is Mozert v. Hawkins County Board of Education (1987), in which a group of Tennessee parents complained that references to mental telepathy, evolution, secular humanism, feminism, pacifism and magic in a series of books in the reading curriculum offended the families’ Christian beliefs. In Adler v. Duval County School Board (1996), for example, the 11th U.S. The Supreme Court eventually may clarify school officials’ power to suppress speech as a means of protecting the rights of other students. Religious Displays and the Courts For a discussion of vouchers and similar issues, see “Shifting Boundaries: The Establishment Clause and Government Funding of Religious Schools and Other Faith-Based Organizations.” Because that analysis was published in 2009 and has not been updated, it does not include a discussion of more recent Supreme Court voucher rulings or upcoming cases. The majority of debates over religion and education stem from the "establishment" or "religion" clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, … More than 55 years after the Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling striking down school-sponsored prayer, Americans continue to fight over the place of religion in public schools. Many judges distinguished these home schooling cases from Yoder on the grounds that Yoder involved teenagers rather than young children. The courts have grappled with the meaning of the Free Exercise Clause. They, too, should have access to public space, the court said. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. What is less clear is how public school systems should draw the line between teachers’ official duties and their own time. The 1st U.S. The dissenters argued, unsuccessfully, that state financial support for a proselytizing journal violated the Establishment Clause. Because there were many student groups devoted to different and frequently opposing causes, the court determined that no reasonable observer would see the school’s recognition of a religious group as an official endorsement of the group’s religious views. Under the federal "Equal Access Act" of 1984, publicly funded schools allowing extracurricular based clubs must also allow students to form religious extracurricular clubs. Some Catholics were troubled that the schools’ reading materials included the King James version of the Bible, which was favored by Protestants. For instance, the First Amendment also protects freedom of speech and freedom of association. Conflicts over religion in school are hardly new. In Abington School District v. Schempp, the court ruled broadly that school sponsorship of religious exercises violates the Constitution. Questions about religion in the classroom no longer make quite as many headlines as they once did, but the issue remains an important battleground in the broader conflict over religion’s role in public life. The Court of Appeals, in Harper v. Poway Unified School District (2006), rejected Harper’s claim that the school officials violated his First Amendment rights. In one of these cases, the Supreme Court ruled against CLS, stating that these nondiscrimination policies were constitutional so long as they were viewpoint neutral and fairly applied to all groups seeking recognition on campus. At times these groups insist that their officers make specific religious commitments, such as accepting Jesus Christ as savior and maintaining sexual abstinence outside of heterosexual marriage. While the issue never reached the Supreme Court again, it continued to be litigated in the lower courts. October 2008 A federal judge has ruled that religious schools in Kentucky can continue in-person learning, despite Gov. The department revised the guidelines in 2003, placing somewhat greater emphasis on the rights of students to speak or associate for religious purposes. The issue of home schooling is a good example. More recently, parents and students have, on religious liberty and other grounds, sued school districts that accommodate transgender students by allowing them to use bathroom and locker facilities that match their current gender identity rather than their sex at birth. Circuit Court of Appeals, 1997; Doe v. Duncanville Independent School District, 5th Circuit, 1995). The court also pointed to evidence that the legislation’s sponsor hoped that the balanced treatment requirement would lead science teachers to abandon the teaching of evolution. Although the Supreme Court has occasionally referred to the permissibility of teaching the Bible as literature, some school districts have instituted Bible study programs that courts have found unconstitutional. Instead, the 5-4 majority handed down a narrowly tailored decision that upheld the specific policy of Hastings Law School – the “all-comers” policy – as long as it is applied in an evenhanded manner. The following year, the high court extended the principle outlined in Engel to a program of daily Bible reading. Their internal diversity extends beyond differing sects of a... 3. Federal courts, they point out, consistently have interpreted the First Amendment’s prohibition on the establishment of religion to forbid state sponsorship of prayer and most other religious activities in public schools. Christmas-themed music programs also have raised constitutional concerns. The court reasoned that students attending the graduation ceremony were as coerced to acquiesce in a student-led prayer as they would be if the prayer were offered by a member of the clergy, the practice forbidden by Weisman in 1992.
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