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Religion In The Schools - Dr. W.A. Kritsonis


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Dr. William Allan Kritsonis, School Law, Use of School Facilities, Religous Rights of Teachers, Religous Freedom of Expression, Religous Rights in Schooling, Due Process, Freedom of Expression, School Prayers, Termination, Due Process

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Religion In The Schools - Dr. W.A. Kritsonis

  1. 1. RELIGION IN THE SCHOOLS William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
  2. 2. LEGAL FRAMEWORK <ul><li>The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution contains: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Establishment Clause- “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The Free Exercise Clause- “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The word “an” appears and the US Supreme Court has construed this to mean that the government can not set up a state church or aid any particular religion </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Thus, the separation of church and state </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. THE DEVELOPMENT OF DECISION GUIDELINES IN THE 1970s <ul><li>Referred to as the Lemon Guidelines (Lemon v. Kurtzman, 1971) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must pass all three to be constitutional </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The purpose of a challenged law or practice must be secular, not sectarian </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The primary effect of the law or practice must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion and also does not impair the practice of one’s religious beliefs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The law or practice must not involve excessive entanglement between state and church (this guideline is most often related to state efforts to aid religiously affiliated private schools) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. TEXAS CONSTITUTION <ul><li>Provisions of the Texas Constitution reflect the desire to separate church and state </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Authors of the 1845 state constitution included the compelled purpose provision in Article I-6- “No man shall be compelled to attend, erect, or support any place of worship, or maintain any ministry against his consent.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Section 6 also states, “No preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Article I-7 states “No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.” </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGION <ul><li>The second component assures that people are free to exercise their religious beliefs without government restraint or persecution </li></ul><ul><li>Article I-6 of the Texas constitution states, “All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences… </li></ul><ul><li>There are limits on what courts will allow. If a religious belief causes someone to take an action that is against the law, they can be prosecuted </li></ul>
  6. 6. CASE LAW <ul><li>Reynolds v. United States, 1878- Mormons have the right to believe in polygamy, but Congress has the right to prohibit its practice </li></ul><ul><li>Congress has no legislative power over opinion, but has free reach over actions that are in violation of social duties or good order (ex: a religion that believes in human sacrifices) </li></ul>
  7. 7. CONSTITUTIONAL DEFINITION OF RELIGION <ul><li>Courts generally define religion as deity-based, and having general recognition as a bona fide religion </li></ul><ul><li>For purposes of the Free Exercise Clause it can extend to a belief system that is philosophically rather than theologically based </li></ul><ul><li>Belief systems such as Wicca are granted the same protection under the Free Exercise Clause as more main stream religions </li></ul><ul><li>A person can believe whatever they wish, but cannot practice beliefs in such a way that they disrupt the learning environment or interfere with the rights of others </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Public School’s Dilemma <ul><li>Concern 1 : If they allow students and teachers to express their religious views on campus, the school would be promoting religion and violating the separation of church and state </li></ul><ul><li>Concern 2 : If they deny them this opportunity, students and teachers will argue that their free exercise rights are being violated </li></ul><ul><li>Concern 3 : If school officials ask about the credibility of a person’s religion before they grant an exemption based on the free exercise clause or state law will arguably violate the establishment clause because government is deciding which religion is worthy of belief </li></ul><ul><li>SPECIAL NOTE : Federal Law takes precedence over state law </li></ul>
  9. 9. CONTEMPORARY ISSUES <ul><li>The pledge of allegiance </li></ul><ul><li>School Prayer </li></ul><ul><li>The teaching of creation science </li></ul><ul><li>Promotion of secular humanism and pagan religion </li></ul><ul><li>Religion in classrooms, choir programs, and holiday observances </li></ul><ul><li>Clergy in schools </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution of religious literature in schools </li></ul><ul><li>Wearing religious symbols </li></ul><ul><li>Student religious groups and the Equal Access Act </li></ul><ul><li>Giving religious exemptions to parents and students </li></ul><ul><li>State assistance to private religious schools </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Pledge of Allegiance <ul><li>Texas Education Code 25.082(b) requires students to recite the pledge to the US and Texas flags in all public schools each day </li></ul><ul><li>Subsection (c) allows a student to be excused by written request from a parent or guardian </li></ul><ul><li>Subsection (d) requires a daily observance of one minute of silence following the pledge during which students may reflect, pray, meditate, or engage in any other silent activity that does not distract other students </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers and school personnel are charged with the responsibility of making sure students are silent and not distracting others </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Pledge of Allegiance-Continued <ul><li>In 1954 Congress added “under God” after the words “one nation” to the pledge </li></ul><ul><li>TEC I.004 states that the motto “In God We Trust” can be posted in each classroom, auditorium, and cafeteria (enacted by the legislature in 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, 2004- Atheist father argued that the teacher reciting the “under God” portion of the pledge was a promotion of religion. </li></ul>
  12. 12. School Prayer <ul><li>School sponsored or employee led prayer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Supreme Court decisions reflect that officially prescribed school prayers with or without student exemptions are illegal in public schools (ex: denominationally neutral prayer read on announcements) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>School employees may not lead, encourage, promote, or participate in prayers with or among students at school, during extracurricular activities, or athletic events </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. School Prayer- Continued <ul><li>Silent Meditation - Silent meditation is allowed in public schools </li></ul><ul><li>Invocations, Benedictions, and Religious Speeches at Graduation - These can occur if it is the voted upon decision of the student body majority and they are student led, nonsectarian and non proselytizing. School leaders can have no part in selecting the prayer or prayer leaders. </li></ul>
  14. 14. School Prayer- Continued <ul><li>Baccalaureate Ceremonies - Under the Lee v. Weisman decision, baccalaureate ceremonies that are pervasively religious, school sponsored, and held on campus violate the establishment clause and are unconstitutional </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To avoid this issue religious baccalaureate ceremonies should be held off campus and without school sponsorship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Service can be held on campus if the school is not the sponsor and the venue is rented to the sponsoring group </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. School Prayer- Continued <ul><li>Student –Initiated Prayer at School, Extracurricular Activities, and Athletic Events - The Supreme Court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to have a student led prayer over the auditory system because improperly coerces those present to participate in an act of religious worship </li></ul><ul><li>Students may choose to pray together privately before events, but school personnel must not have any involvement in the prayer </li></ul>
  16. 16. Teaching Creation Science <ul><li>Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)- Supreme Court ruled the state law prohibiting the teaching of evolution unconstitutional because it was seen a an attempt to blot out a theory that conflicted with the biblical account </li></ul><ul><li>Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)- Supreme Court ruled that a statute passed by the Louisiana Legislature that required evolution and creation-science to be taught equally was unconstitutional because it was limited to only two views and was seen as an attempt to structure science curriculum to conform to a particular religious viewpoint </li></ul>
  17. 17. Secular Humanism and Pagan Religion <ul><li>Some accuse the public schools of fostering and anti-God or the religion of secular humanism </li></ul><ul><li>The concept of secular humanism as a religion under the establishment clause has not been judicially accepted </li></ul><ul><li>Many noteworthy court cases dealing with curriculum, school books, and materials (Wright v. Houston ISD, Smith v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Religion in Classrooms <ul><li>Teaching of religion requires a curriculum that does not favor any particular religion. </li></ul><ul><li>In the No Child Left Behind Act, that pertain to religion in public schools: “Students may express their beliefs about religion in the form of homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free of discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Choir Programs <ul><li>Religious music in a school’s performing arts curriculum first arose in 1995 when a Jewish choir student objected to the singing of “May the Lord Bless You and Keep You” and “Friends” at high school graduation (Bauch-man v. West High School). </li></ul><ul><li>The student lost the case because, she would have to show that these decisions were intended to advance religion contrary to the establishment clause. This she did not do. </li></ul><ul><li>Doe vs. Aldine I.S.D the court found the school song to be essentially a Christian prayer, noted its pervasive presence at school events and activities, and observed that school officials frequently led its recitation or singing. Texas federal court prohibited the song. </li></ul>
  20. 20. Holiday Observances <ul><li>(Lynch v. Donnelly, 1984), the high court allowed a city’s inclusion of a Nativity scene as part of an annual city Christmas display. </li></ul><ul><li>Florey v. Sioux Falls School District (1980) involved a school policy allowing teachers to observe holidays that have both a religious and secular basis. Among them were Christmas, Easter, Passover, Hanukkah, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Halloween. </li></ul>
  21. 21. Clergy in the Schools <ul><li>Depending on school’s visitors policy, clergy can meet with students on school grounds. </li></ul><ul><li>Schools have the responsibility to prevent invited clergy from trying to convert students on school grounds, unless the school give the appearance of endorsing religion. </li></ul><ul><li>In 1996 there was a program called “Clergy in the Schools.” </li></ul><ul><li>Based on extensive review, the judge ruled that the Clergy in the Schools program as unconstitutional advancement of religion ( Oxford v.Beaumont I.S.D. 2002). </li></ul>
  22. 22. Distribution of Religious Literature <ul><li>School personnel or outside organizations cannot hand out Bibles or other religious material to public school students on school grounds. </li></ul><ul><li>It is permissible to provide a place in a public school where adherents of any faith may deposit religious literature for voluntary student pickup. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Wearing Religious Symbols <ul><li>Schools want to avoid having its staff give the appearance of advancing religion and, in the case of students, to avoid allowing religious symbolism to be a style of dress for gang activity. </li></ul><ul><li>Title VII of the 1964 Civil Right Act prevents discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. School districts must accommodate reasonably a teacher’s wearing of religious symbols and attire. </li></ul><ul><li>For students, dress codes cannot be so restrictive that they deny students their First Amendment rights to engage in religiously motivated speech or free exercise of religion. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Student Religious Groups and the Equal Access Act <ul><li>In 1981 in Widmar v. Vincent, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right of student groups to hold religious services in buildings on a public university campus. </li></ul><ul><li>Congress followed up on the Widmar decision in 1984 by enacting the Equal Access Act, which gives non-curriculum-related student groups access to public secondary schools during non instructional time to engage in religious, political, philosophical, or other types of expression. </li></ul><ul><li>These groups must be student-initiated, voluntary, and student-led. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Student Religious Groups and the Equal Access Act- continued <ul><li>The case “ Westside Community Schools v. Mergens” Involved a Christian club that wanted to use the high school campus before and after school for religious discussion and worship. </li></ul><ul><li>The Equal Access Act does not limit the First Amendment rights of individual students to come together voluntarily during the school day for religious expression of school grounds, including prayer and the distribution of religious literature, so long as it is done in a nondisruptive manner. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Religious Exemptions <ul><li>West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, a 1943 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, ruled that the school board could not compel Jehovah’s Witnesses to solute the flag. The students and their parents objected that in their religion saluting the flag was a violation of a tenet against worshiping a graven image (Exodus 20:4-5). </li></ul><ul><li>Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) involved the religious objections of the Old Order Amish to compulsory schooling beyond the 8 th grade. To date, no other religion has been given as broad an exemption as the Old Order Amish. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Religious Exemptions - Continued <ul><li>In 1995 the First Circuit rejected parents’ assertion that requiring their children to attend an AIDS awareness program intruded on the free exercise of religion and the right of parents to control their children's upbringing (Brown v. Hot, Sexy and Safer Productions). </li></ul><ul><li>TEC 21.406 provides that a school district may not deny a teacher a salary bonus because a teacher is absent from school for observance of a religious holy day. The teacher still can be required to supply a substitute or give up regular wages for observing a religious holy day </li></ul>
  28. 28. Assistance to Sectarian Private Schools <ul><li>About 11% of the total U.S. school enrollment attends private schools. </li></ul><ul><li>Most private schools are religiously affiliated (over 30% of the total are now Roman Catholic). </li></ul><ul><li>Efforts to aid the private sector run into the establishment clause. </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. supreme Court ruled in 1947 stated that the government cannot deny public transportation for pupils attending religious schools. </li></ul><ul><li>Board of Education v. Allen in 1968 states that a state could loan secular textbooks to religious schools. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Assistance to Sectarian Private Schools - continued <ul><li>In 1971, the Court struck down reimbursement to nonpublic schools for teachers’ salaries, texts, and instructional materials (Lemon v. Kurtzman). </li></ul><ul><li>In 1973, the Court ruled against reimbursement for maintenance and repair grants to nonpublic schools (Committee for Public Education v. Nyquist). </li></ul><ul><li>In 1993 the Supreme Court ruled that it is not a violation of the establishment clause for a public school district to pay the cost of a sigh language interpreter for a deaf student who attends a private religious school. </li></ul><ul><li>Article I, 7 of the Texas Constitution states that “No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society. </li></ul>