I recently read an article in Faith and Family Values, a magazine I receive in the mail from time to time. I was shocked to find out that most ideas that people have about this “law” are nothing more than myths. While the ACLU claims that religion has no place in our public schools, parents and students alike have just accepted these false teachings that students cannot express their religious beliefs at school.
So before I tell you what the rights are of a student in the US public school system are…lets take a look at what the law says. The phrase “separation of church and state” are nowhere to be found in our constitution, our Bill of Rights, or any other of our nation’s founding documents. It was originally coined by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists on January 1, 1802. His purpose in this letter was to squelch the fears of the Danbury , Connecticut Baptists, and so he told them that this wall had been erected to protect them. The metaphor was used exclusively to keep the state out of the church’s business, not to keep the church out of the state’s business.
People assume that separation of church and state means that you can’t do anything in public school that has to do with religion. I don’t know how many times I have been asked what can we do to get prayer back in schools. My response has been “I didn’t know prayer was taken out of school.” The reality is that I am only partially correct. ORGANIZED prayer HAS been removed from school. Any student praying during school hours is protected under the first amendment. The same as a group of students can discuss the latest movies, books, or TV shows, Christian students can publicly pray together, whether in the hallways between classes, or before school, or even for their meals in the lunchroom. A child can even pray during class time, as long as he is not coerce another student into praying or it doesn’t disrupt the class time teaching. Likewise, athletic teams can pray before a game or practice as long as the prayer is led by a student.
Last year, the church that my husband and I serve, held a lock in for our youth. In efforts to increase awareness of our youth group and building a larger group, our youth wanted to hand out fliers to all the kids in middle school and high school in our town. The school told the kids they were not allowed to do that because it was a religious event and due to “separation of church and state” it was against the law.
Actually students cannot be banned from handing out fliers for a religious event at their church if other students are allowed to distribute fliers for non-school events. In other words, if a child is allowed to hand out birthday invitations to their friends and classmates, Christian students MUST be permitted to hand out invitations to a religious youth event.
Twenty years ago I received a call from the school that I needed to bring a change of clothes to my daughter at the school. When I asked if she had had an accident, the reply was no she just needs a different shirt. I asked what happened and the principal said “well her shirt has a religious saying on it and due to “separation of church and state” we cannot allow her to wear it. I was upset but agreed to abide by what they said. I arrived at the school to see a child in the same grade as my daughter in the office, apparent that he was in trouble, and he had a Kiss (the rock band) t-shirt on. It had the made up faces of the rock band and blood was coming out of their eyes and dripping from their mouths, very offensive to me especially on a 1st graders shirt. When I inquired about the offensiveness of it, they said it was not forbidden. I asked then why my child’s shirt was. “It might offend someone of a different religion.” “Well what if I don’t like rock music?” was my reply. A few minutes of arguing and quoting the law to them, needless to say my daughter kept her shirt on the rest of the day and I never heard another thing about it. A school cannot “forbid” a student to wear a religious article of clothing, unless it is in direct violation with a standard dress code. (i.e. everyone has to wear the same style or color of clothing as part of a school uniform.
Students are also permitted to talk about their faith during instructional time. He/she has the right to incorporate their religious beliefs into classroom discussions and assignments. AS long as the expression is relevant to the subject under consideration and meets the requirements of the assignment. For example, if a lesson is planned on evolution, a student IS allowed to speak up against that particular theory and express their belief in creation. If the assignment is to write an essay on a historical figure, they must be permitted to write his paper on the life of Christ since his selected topic clearly meets the requirements of the assignment.
So if your children attend public school, not to fear the dreaded “separation of church and state” clause. It is a public demon driven by a public that refuses to follow God. It flees at the presence of even a little light. And if a teacher or school official tells your children that they can’t share their Christian faith at school, I am told you can contact the Alliance Defense Fund at 1-800-TELLADF or go to telladf.org.
Reason 796 to home-school your child. You can teach them all the Godly principles you want to and not have to fight to do it. By the way, I home-schooled my youngest daughter from the 4th grade clear through her senior year and this year she starts her sophmore year in college. She says she would not have gone back to public school if they paid her to go.
Way to serve the Lord kiddo!