Here’s a quick test on your knowledge of our religious liberties in public schools:
If you thought the answer to any of those questions was no, you would (happily!) be wrong. Such is the valuable information shared in Gateways to Better Education parent and teacher seminars on “Keeping the Faith in Public Schools.”
If you missed the seminars last time they were in North Carolina, good news! Parents and teachers get another chance on May 5 and 6 at Southview Baptist Church in Hope Mills.
“It was a joy to learn about the government-approved freedoms for students to express their faith, clearly outlined in the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines on students’ religious liberties!” says Thomas Graham, NC Family’s Pastor Outreach Director. “It turns out that keeping the faith in public schools is still possible today if parents and teachers will educate themselves regarding these policies and parents remain active in their children’s school affairs.”
Gateways’ seminar workbook* outlines the liberties and supporting policies straight out of the U.S. Department of Education’s document, Guidance on Constitutionally Protected Prayer in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools.
Liberty 1. You can pray, read your Bible or other religious material, and talk about your faith at school. Students may pray when not engaged in school activities or instructions. […] Students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other non-instructional time.
Liberty 2. You can organize prayer groups and religious clubs and announce your meetings. Students may organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and ‘See You at the Pole’ gatherings before school. […] Such groups must be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other non-curricular groups, without discrimination because of the religious content of their expression. […] School authorities may not discriminate against groups who meet to pray.
Liberty 3. You can express your faith in your class work and homework. Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions…the work of a student […] should be judged on the basis of academic standards and neither penalized nor rewarded on account of its religious content.
Liberty 4. Your teachers can organize prayer groups with other teachers. Teachers may take part in religious activities where the overall context makes clear that they are not participating in their official capacities. Before school or during lunch, for example, teachers may meet with other teachers for prayer or Bible study to the same extent that they may engage in other conversation or nonreligious activities. Similarly, teachers may participate in their personal capacities in privately sponsored baccalaureate ceremonies.
Liberty 5. You may be able to go off campus to have religious studies during school hours. Schools have the discretion to dismiss students to off-premises religious instruction, provided that schools do not encourage or discourage participation in such instruction or penalize students for attending or not attending.
Liberty 6. You can express your faith at a school event. Student speakers at student assemblies and extracurricular activities such as sporting events may not be selected on a basis that either favors or disfavors religious speech. Where student speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.
Liberty 7. You can express your faith at your graduation ceremony. Where students or other private graduation speakers are selected on the basis of genuinely neutral, evenhanded criteria and retain primary control over the content of their expression, however, that expression is not attributable to the school and therefore may not be restricted because of its religious (or anti-religious) content.
You’re Invited To Get Equipped To Stand Up For Religious Freedom In Your Schools!
May 5 (parents) & May 6 (educators)
Southview Baptist Church
4089 Elk Road
Hope Mills, NC 28348
Register HERE now and get a FREE Participant CD!
“Gateways to Better Education truly is leading a national awareness campaign regarding religious freedom in the public school system. I recommend parents and teachers get involved and also get behind it.” —Thomas Graham, NC Family Pastor Outreach Director
* Seminar workbook is entitled, Keeping the Faith in Public Schools: How To Help Your Children Graduate With Their Faith And Values Intact, by Eric Buehrer