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Prayer in schools: When it is and isn't allowed

Prayer in public school is an issue for many reasons. Some parents want their children to participate in prayer, while others believe that it shouldn't be performed in public schools at all. It's a divisive issue in many areas of the country. If your son or daughter is being pushed to pray or participate in religious activities at school, the school could be in violation of the law.

Under federal law, prayer is allowed in schools as long as it doesn't alienate a group of students. For instance, if the class is willing to participate, there shouldn't be a problem with it. However, if there are two religions and only one is being represented, that could be viewed as alienation.

Public schools, according to the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, are prohibited from encouraging students to practice religion as well as from restricting them from practicing religion. Basically, the school must allow students to do as they please in their own personal lives. Because of this clause in the First Amendment, many schools ban prayers at school. Others offer prayer circles and times for prayer that are separated from class, so students can choose to participate if they want to.

Public schools have been banned from prayer and other religious practices for many years. However, students who want to participate in voluntary prayer or religious activities are allowed to do so. Instead of prayer, some schools hold moments of silence, which allows students who want to pray the chance to do so while others can do as they wish during that time.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Prayer in Public Schools Laws," accessed April 01, 2016

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