Last month, Americans United launched our Know Your Rights campaign to help students, parents/guardians and staff understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to the role of religion in public education.
As part of the campaign, several members of AU’s staff shared their recollections about religion in public schools. You can read them on this blog – they ran Aug. 23-Sept. 2.
We’ve told our stories; now we’d like to hear yours.
Did you have a noteworthy experience, positive or negative, with religion in a public school? Maybe you had a coach who stepped over the line and led prayers after games. Perhaps you had a teacher who did the right thing by teaching about religion in an objective and even-handed manner.
What did you learn about evolution? Did your school sponsor any assemblies that veered into inappropriate religious content? What experiences did your children have with religion in school? Are you a teacher or a school staff member who has a story to tell?
Battles over the proper role of religion in education stretch back to the founding of public education in America. School-sponsored prayer and Bible reading stoked interfaith tensions in the 19th century, and many state courts invalidated these practices. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down school-sponsored prayers almost 60 years ago – but that hasn’t stopped religious extremists and their political allies from trying to impose their beliefs on public school kids.
Here are just two recent examples: In South Dakota, Gov. Kristi Noem continues to insist that her state can enact a new law that “will allow us to pray in schools again.” And in Putnam County, Tenn., a firestorm erupted after Americans United’s attorneys told the public school system to stop sports team coaches from leading students in prayer. (The good news is school officials agreed with us!)
Whether your experience came as a student, parent or staff member, we’d like to hear about it. It doesn’t matter if it happened last week or 50 years ago. Drop us a line here and let us know about it. We may publish these stories in Church & State, on this blog and in other forums.