Christian Activities Currently Allowable in Schools, According to Law
Misconceptions about religious rights in public schools have run rampant in recent years. Many schools disallow things such as Christians praying at school, not knowing that they are denying the students their legal rights. There has been a lot of confusion in the past decade or two about what is and isn’t allowed.
In Kountze, Texas, in 2012, high school cheerleaders that always wrote scripture verses on the run-through banners for the start of their football games were instructed by the school district to stop immediately. Someone had complained about the Biblical references. Ultimately, it was ruled that the cheerleaders’ private speech rights were protected under Texas law, and they could continue using the scriptures. Just in time for the current football season, the ruling was upheld by the 9th Court of Appeals in Beaumont, after a lengthy appeals process.
Rights of Christians in Public Schools
- Although not in a coercive or disruptive ay, students are allowed to express their faith at school. Religious views can be expressed in class and in written assignments but only if it relates to the discussion or course work.
- If school facilities are used for community groups after hours, religious groups must be given equal access.
- Prayer is permitted in schools, as long as no one is pressured to participate and the school doesn’t sponsor a prayer event. Students may pray alone or in groups.
- In schools where students are permitted to form groups that are not related to the curriculum, Christian students can form Bible-based clubs or groups.
- The approach to religion in a school’s curriculum must be strictly academic, with no proselytizing. Choirs can sing religious songs, drama students can act out religious plays, and bands can play religious music as part of the academic program.
Teachers and schools can include religious traditions in the curriculum, but promoting or celebrating religious holidays is not allowed.
A Call to Disciple
One of the last things Jesus said after His resurrection and visiting the earth for 40 days and before returning to heaven was that we should make disciples. As Christians, we are also to focus on God, loving Him with all of our heart, mind, and soul. For these reasons alone, praying at school and meeting as Christians is essential.
Many times, one or two people will complain about anything related to the Bible being in school. A school district’s response is usually to try to avoid a lawsuit and therefore shutting down the perfectly legal activity. Legal teams are available to represent groups who have to fight for their rights, like the Kountze cheerleaders did.
The right to acknowledge faith in Jesus is something to fight for. It’s also something to be exercised regularly.