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Suspicious Stories: Created Controversies Complicate Religion In Public Schools

Ever hungry for a headline, Fox News contributor Todd Starnes has drummed up yet another controversy over religion in public schools. He recently took to his column to tell the tale of a Florida girl, 5-year-old Gabriella Perez, who had allegedly been told by her teacher that she could not pray over her lunch.
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The Pluck Of The Irish: A St. Patrick’s Day Tale About School Prayer

The role of prayer in public schools has vexed the American people for a long time. Much misinformation circulates about what students can and can’t do when it comes to religion in schools.

Occasionally, Americans United Executive Director Barry Lynn or I are asked to discuss this issue on talk radio. Inevitably, someone will phone in and ask, “What’s the harm in a little prayer?” Read more

Religious Freedom For All: Another Dream Of Dr. Martin Luther King

Note: Today is the federal observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. This blog post is a re-publication on an item that originally appeared on Jan. 13, 2006.

Today marks the federal observance of Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday. Since his tragic assassination on April 4, 1968, King's memory has been pressed into service in highly unusual ways that King himself would not have supported.

Liberal-ly Confused: Kansas School Board Votes For School Prayer Despite Supreme Court Rulings

Members of the school board in Liberal, Kan., missed official prayer at high school football games, so they recently voted unanimously to allow student-led prayers using the school’s loudspeakers.

But there’s a slight hitch in the school board’s plan: The Supreme Court actually banned the practice in 2000.
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What’s OK And What’s Not OK: A School Prayer Primer

Yesterday was “See You at the Pole,” an annual event where public school students meet outside the building for a voluntary prayer session (often near a flagpole, hence the name – see this example) usually before the school day begins.

The Religious Right expects Americans United to get all worked up about this. We really don’t – as long as the event is voluntary and student-run and school officials aren’t sponsoring or promoting it. Read more

Fifty Years Of Freedom: Celebrating The Supreme Court’s Decision Against Coercive Religion In Public Schools

Fifty years ago today, the U.S. Supreme handed down one of its most important church-state rulings. In School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, the high court ruled 8-1 that state-mandated programs of Bible reading and prayer in public schools are unconstitutional.

Five decades later, the ruling in Schempp (and its companion case, Murray v. Curlett) remains widely misunderstood. Part of this is due to a deliberate campaign of misinformation by Religious Right groups, which have distorted the scope of the decision. Read more

Divisive Devotions: Louisiana Legislators Push Prayer In Public Schools

The Louisiana legislature has let us down again.

On Saturday, the state Senate passed a bill intended to promote prayer in the public schools. HB 724 was adopted unanimously there, just as it was in the House of Representatives. The measure is now on its way to Gov. Bobby Jindal, and he is almost certain to sign it. Read more

A Critic’s Critique: Roger Ebert Gave ‘Two Thumbs Up’ To The Church-State Wall

I’ll admit it: I enjoy reading scathing reviews of books and films. Critics are called that for a reason. When it’s time to be critical, some of them really know how to put it out there.

Consider Roger Ebert. The long-time movie reviewer for the Chicago Sun-Times didn’t hold back when he was forced to sit through a bad film. Read more

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