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Local Government and Legislative Prayer--Can They Pray or Not?

Two recent decisions on invocational prayer before local government Board meetings, filed in March of 2013, came out in opposite directions, but give some insight into the legal principles involved in determining whether Boards can properly sponsor a formal prayer before meetings. In Hudson v. Pittsylvania County, the federal district court for the Western District of Virginia issued an injunction against the prayers being offered. In Atheists of Florida v. City of Lakeland, the Eleventh Circuit found no constitutional violation. Different courts on different days, or consistent underlying principles?

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Must Education Be Faith Free

one room school houseMust public education be free from all religion? Should parents who want Biblical education pay twice but - once, through taxes for public school, and again for a private school with their values? The Freedom From Religion Foundation staged another attack on a school released-time policy. The FFRF insists that the plan is “granting special treatment to attend select evangelical Christian education courses,” and that violates the Constitution.

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Forbidding or Allowing Student Religious Speech

One challenge in figuring out what religious speech is permitted for students is that it depends on whether the school is trying to prevent the speech or allow it. A January 2013 Second Circuit case, A.M. v. Taconic Hills Central School District, gives some insight, though it is a summary order that is not precedential.

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Expression of Religion in Public Schools

Religious Liberty in Public SchoolsThis article discusses the intersection of religious expression and public schools. It focuses on the Equal Access Act, student speech, school personnel speech, access forcommunity viewpoints, and released time.

Confusion is widespread as to what may be taught, expressed, or otherwise introduced onto the premises of the nation’s public schools. “Nowhere has the proper line of demarcation [in the appropriate amount of separation between church and state] been more difficult to define than in our nation’s public schools.”1As the Tenth Circuit has said:

So long as the state engages in the widespread business of molding the belief structure of children, the often recited metaphor of a “wall of separation” between the church and the state is unavoidably illusory.2... Read More →

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