State/Church FAQ

State/Church FAQ

Evolution is the scientific theory that explains Earth's wide variety of species and their striking similarities. Evolution explains how species descended from a common ancestor and were modified by natural selection during that descent. Essentially, parents pass traits on to offspring and different individuals have different traits that give them a competitive edge in passing on those traits to offspring.

Can Gideons pass out bibles at my child's public school?

Every school year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation receives countless complaints from parents about The Gideon Society or other similar groups who are distributing bibles to their children at public schools.

A church is meeting in a public school. What can I do about it?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation often receives queries from shocked members of the public who receive flyers at their home inviting them to attend “church” at their local public school. Or citizens notice prominent signs at public school entrances on Sundays advertising church meetings. “Public schools can’t host church meetings, can they?” we are asked.

The “See You at the Pole” movement started in Texas in 1990, as an ostensibly “student-initiated” and “student-led” religious expression. Students meet at their school’s outdoor flagpole to pray before classes begin on the fourth Wednesday of September.

Can Public School Graduations Include Prayers?

No. The Supreme Court has continually struck down school-led prayers at school-sponsored events, including public school graduations.  High school graduations must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students.

 

Do I (or my child) have to participate in the religious Pledge of Allegiance in my public school?

No. You (or your child) have a constitutional right not to be forced to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. Nor should a student be singled out, rebuked, told they must stand, or otherwise be penalized for following their freedom of conscience. Nor should students who participate in the pledge, or who volunteer to lead the class in the pledge or to recite it over the intercom, be rewarded or favored over students who don’t participate.

What is the law about prayers in public schools?

Public schools exist to educate, not to proselytize. Children in public schools are a captive audience. Making prayer an official part of the school day is coercive and invasive.

Can public schools offer early release times for students wishing to participate in religious activities?

Public schools may release students during school hours to participate in private religious activities with parental consent. In McCollum v. Board of Education, the Court found a release time program that was supported by public funds, held during school hours, and on school grounds violated the First Amendment

My child's choir is singing religious music. Is that legal?

In its more than three decades of activism, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken more complaints over promotion of religion in public school music classes and team sports than any other type of complaint!

A teacher is sending my child home with religious literature. Can I stop it?

Parents frequently contact the Freedom From Religion Foundation with complaints about religious fliers being sent home with their school children—sometimes as young as five years old. Typically, these fliers are from outside religious organizations, such as the Good News Club, inviting students to participate in proselytizing after-school clubs and activities.

Is it lawful to hold a “See You at the Pole” prayer gathering at my public school?

The “See You at the Pole” movement started in Texas in 1990, as an ostensibly “student-initiated” and “student-led” religious expression. Students meet at their school’s outdoor flagpole to pray before classes begin on the fourth Wednesday of September.

A public high school is holding a religious baccalaureate service. Is that legal?

It is a fundamental principle of Establishment Clause jurisprudence that a public school may not advance, prefer or promote religion. Because it is generally understood that a baccalaureate service is a religious event, a public school may not be involved in the organization or execution of a baccalaureate in any way that would make an objective observer believe that the school is endorsing the event

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The information and materials on this website are intended for informational purposes only and are not intended to be treated as legal advice.

The information is general in nature, pertains to laws and policy which may become quickly dated, and may not apply to particular factual or legal circumstances.

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