Taxpayer-funded school officials, including teachers and coaches, should be focused on educating, not proselytizing.
Public school teachers, administrators, and employees have a duty to remain religiously neutral while carrying out their duties. This common sense policy helps ensure that students of all faiths and no faith can receive a quality education without feeling marginalized or singled out because of their religious affiliation (or lack thereof). As taxpayer-funded institutions, it is critical that public schools foster inclusive environments so they can equally serve the religiously diverse communities that support them.
All students have the right to pray in public schools so long as their religious activities are self-initiated and non-disruptive. However, courts have consistently ruled that It is unconstitutional for teachers or school employees to lead students in prayer or to encourage religious activities in school. Similarly, public schools cannot include invocations or benedictions at graduation ceremonies, regardless of who delivers the prayer. It does not matter whether or not attendance at the graduation ceremony is voluntary, since the pressure for students to attend this milestone event is effectively coercive. Lastly, public schools cannot use their resources to facilitate student-led prayer, including at official school events or athletic games.
Students of every faith and no faith have a right to receive an education without religious coercion. This is why the Secular Coalition for America opposes school-sponsored prayer.
January 16 marks National Religious Freedom Day, which commemorates the Virginia General Assembly’s 1786 adoption of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom authored and championed by Thomas Jeffer…