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“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights of freedom of speech or expression at the school house gate.” – United States Supreme Court. In other words, you have the right to be a Christian at your school!! For some students, starting up a Christian club on campus is a breeze. For others, it is more difficult. The facts on what you can and can’t do on campus to express your faith is often confusing because of misinformation or lack of information. That’s what we are here for! We want to give you the facts and make understanding your rights on freedom of speech a little easier
As employees of the state, public school teachers are required to remain neutral while carrying out their duties as teachers. Outside of school responsibilities, they are allowed to participate in their local religious community, but they must not use their positions to promote religious activity. Here are some guidlines:
Listen and follow the Lord.
Build trust with and show respect to administration, parents, and students. This goes a long way in granting you access and freedom.
Know your rights; utilize your freedoms.
Work through the students. Multiply through them.
Involve the community of parents and churches.
Attend the on-campus club meetings.
Have religious discussions with other teachers.
Meet with other teachers for religious purposes, such as to pray or discuss the Bible.
Ask the students questions of faith.
Respond to questions of faith asked by the students.
Teach about religion for academic reasons. Teach about Judeo-Christian faith and creation as part of the curriculum—i.e. teaching the Book of Psalms as part of a poetry unit, teaching about Jesus as part of history, teaching about creation as part of science, teach the meaning of holidays.
Practice their faith after school hours.
Lead, initiate, or participate in the student religious meeting on campus.
Initiate faith discussions with students to promote their faith.
Instruct in religion—to seek a student’s acceptance of and commitment to a particular religion or non-religion.
Pray, read their Bibles or other religious material, and talk about their faith in school.
Initiate and lead prayer or religious clubs and announce their meetings.
Express their faith in classwork or homework.
Go off campus to have religious studies during school hours.
Share their faith as long as it does not disturb instructional time.
Express their faith at a school event or graduation ceremony.
Wear clothing or jewelry that expresses their faith.
Distribute religious literature on campus.
Celebrate religious holidays on campus.
Meet with School officials regarding their religious club
Be exempt from activities or class content that contradicts their faith.
Disrupt instruction time in order to promote their faith.
Discriminate from those who attend club meetings.
Require others to attend club meetings.
Require others to say a creed at club meetings.
Invade the rights of other students - force them to come to a meeting or put flyers in their lockers
C.A.S.E. – Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism
C.E.E. – Citizens for Excellence in Education
www.clsnet.org/ – The Christian Legal Society
The National Legal Foundation
J.W. Brinkley’s Student’s Legal Rights on a Public School Campus
RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A Statement of Principles by U.S. Department of Education
Keeping the Faith in Public Schools by Eric Buehrer, published by Gateways to Better Education.
A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools, published by the First Amendment Center.
The True Meaning of the First Amendment, published by Alliance Defense Fund.
Cru would love to connect with you about reaching your campus. While sometimes it can feel like you are limited in what you can do on campus, you can be vital to a ministry succeeding. We love working with educational professionals to help them change their campuses for Christ. Take the gifts assessment below and a Cru staff member will reach out to you.
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