Schools and Learning

School-Sponsored Prayer

Religious freedom means that students and their families—not school officials—get to make their own decisions about religion. That’s why nearly 60 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that public schools may not sponsor prayer.

When school officials, teachers, and coaches sponsor prayers, students feel pressured to join in order to fit in with their classmates or get playing time. School-sponsored prayer makes students of other faiths and the nonreligious feel like outsiders. But equality means that people of all religions and none should feel welcome in their own public schools and at school events.

Despite broad public agreement that school-sponsored prayer has no place in public education, extremist legal groups are seeking to overturn decades-old precedent that prohibits schools from meddling in the religious lives of students.

What You Should Know

No pray to play

The Bremerton School District protected its students’ religious freedom when it stopped a high school football coach from leading students in prayer. The coach sued. AU will argue the case before the Supreme Court.

Know your rights

Teachers, parents, and students all have rights that protect them from being pressured to pray or participate in other religious activities in public schools. Learn more in our “Know Your Rights” guides and report violations to us.

Students can pray

The Constitution is clear: students have the right to pray and they have the right not to be coerced into a religious practice of a faith they do not follow. As long as it is voluntary, student-led and not disruptive, prayer has never been banned from public schools.

Black minister smiling
Take action

We’re pledging to keep church and state separate. Join us.

Church-state separation is the foundation of religious freedom in the United States, protecting many of our most fundamental rights: LGBTQ equality, reproductive freedom, inclusive public education, and more. Now, those freedoms are under threat. Join our movement and pledge to uphold church-state separation.