Generally, a hoard of rebellious schoolchildren is one of the last things anyone wants to encourage. But religious leaders and First Amendment advocates can cheer for some Tennessee students who, despite a ban, kept up prayer at school events.1
Hamilton County banned student-initiated prayer after the Freedom from Religion Foundation sent a letter to the district superintendent in response to a complaint from a Soddy-Daisy High School student's family about prayer over the loud speakers before football games. Nonetheless, students and members of the community rallied together at a public park and then at a football game in October to pray about the ban.
In another case, a Michigan elementary school prohibited a student from handing out invitation flyers to classmates for church activities. A lawsuit was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund on the student's behalf.2 Recently, a federal court ruled that the school violated the student's First Amendment right to free speech and ordered the school district to stop enforcing its ban on students distributing flyers.3
And in a case earlier this year, Pennsylvania school authorities disciplined a student for wearing a T-shirt that read "Abortion Is not Healthcare."4 A lawsuit was filed against the West Shore School District, which later lifted the ban preventing the student from wearing the shirt. The lawsuit was subsequently voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs.
As special interest organizations and politicians try to usurp the moral future of America, it is important for Christian families with children in public schools to remember that their students have First Amendment freedoms. They have both the right and obligation to exercise their faith and speech for the sake of the gospel, especially when there are those who would illegally try to silence them.5
- Samuel, S. Tenn. Students Keep Up Prayer at School Despite Ban. The Christian Post. Posted on christianpost.com October 28, 2010, accessed November 5, 2010.
- Everyone welcome—except churches. Alliance Defense Fund press release, accessed November 5, 2010.
- Black, N. Court: Mich. Student Can Hand Out Church Flyers. The Christian Post. Posted on christianpost.com October 27, 2010, accessed November 5, 2010.
- Black, N. Pa. Student Free to Wear 'Abortion Is Not Healthcare' Shirt. The Christian Post. Posted on christianpost.com March 18, 2010, accessed November 5, 2010.
- Luke 19:37-40.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on November 8, 2010.