The religion page is devoted to First Amendment, Establishment, Free Exercise, and Free Speech clause issues related to the role of religion in public schools. Topics covered include: prayer, religious instruction, religious garb, religious observations, and religious displays. This page also looks at claims raised under the federal Equal Access Act.

Looking for more information? See what’s Inside Religion on the right.

Additional Resources

Sedlock v. Baird
San Diego County Superior Court holds Yoga classes do not violate Estalishment Clause - Lemon Test

NSBA Amicus Brief - Busch v. Marple Newton School District (3d Cir.)
First Amendment: curriculum control--free speech rights of parent volunteers

NSBA Amicus Brief - CEF v. Montgomery County (4th Cir.)
First Amendment: free speech--school district discretion over forum access

NSBA Amicus Brief - Child Evangelism Fellowship of Maryland Inc., v. Montgomery County Public Schools (4th Cir.)
First Amendment: free speech, establishment clause - classroom distribution of religious materials in elementary school

NSBA Amicus Brief - Eklund v. Byron Union School District (9th Cir.)
First Amendment: Establishment Clause - teaching about religion

NSBA Amicus Brief - Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
First Amendment: Establishment Clause - Pledge of Allegiance - phrase "under God"

NSBA Amicus Brief - Harris v. School District of Palm Beach County (11th Cir.)
First Amendment: student expression - viewpoint discrimination based on religion - Establishment Clause concerns

NSBA Amicus Brief Jackson v. Benson (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
Vouchers: Establishment Clause - use of public funds for religious school tuition.

NSBA Amicus Brief - M.A.L. v. Kinsland (6th Cir.)
First Amendment - student distribution of literature - time, place and manner regulations

NSBA Amicus Brief - McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
Religion: religious displays on government property – Establishment Clause

NSBA Amicus Brief - Mitchell v. Helms (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
First Amendment: Establishment Clause - use of public funds to pay teachers' salaries and provide educational materials to religious schools.

NSBA Amicus Brief Simmons-Harris v. Zelman (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
Vouchers: Establishment Clause - use of public funds for religious school tuition against granting certiorari.

NSBA Amicus Brief - The Good News Club v. Milford Central School District (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
First Amendment: religion, speech - school policy prohibiting student religious clubs meeting in school facilities after hours -viewpoint discrimination.

NSBA Amicus Brief - Wigg v. Sioux Falls School District 49-5 (8th Cir.)
First Amendment: religion, freedom of speech - elementary school teacher's participation in after hours student religious club

NSBA Amicus Brief - Colorado Christian University v. Baker (10th Cir.)
First Amendment: Establishment Clause—state provisions prohibiting public funding of religious education

NSBA Amicus Brief Locke v. Davey (U.S. Sup. Ct.)
First Amendment: free exercise of religion, establishment clause - state law prohibiting use of public scholarship funds for pastoral studies

NSBA Amicus Brief Cain v. Horne (Ariz. Ct. App.)
Separation of church and state: constitutionality of Arizona voucher programs—Blaine Amendments

NSBA Amicus Brief - Nurre v. Whitehead (9th Cir.)
First Amendment: Student free speech—playing of instrumental music with religious theme at graduation—qualified immunity and personal liability of school administrators.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Americans United for Separation of Church and State advocates in the courts, the U.S. Congress, and state legislatures for strict separation of church and state.

The American Center for Law & Justice
The ACLJ engages in litigation, provides legal services, renders advice and counsels clients, and supports attorneys who are involved in defending the religious and civil liberties of Americans.

The First Amendment Center
The First Amendment Center, with offices at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C., is an operating program of the Freedom Forum and works to preserve and protect First Amendment freedoms through information and education. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of free-expression issues, including freedom of speech, of the press and of religion, and the rights to assemble and to petition the government.

The American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) works daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

BridgeBuilders is a non-profit organization that specializes in helping polarized groups in education, business and society, communicate past their differences and design mutually beneficial solutions that not only resolve the conflict, but also rebuild the fabric of their community. The organization has helped school boards and communities find common ground on divisive issues.

Religion & Public Schools: Striking A Constitutional Balance
Third edition, April 2008. In the interval between this publication and the Council’s previous book on religion published in 2001, the Supreme Court has handed down several opinions reflecting a changing approach to resolving Establishment Clause issues. As the jurisprudential landscape shifts, it will be even more imperative that school attorneys understand the law so that they may properly advise their school board clients about how to handle various issues that call for careful balancing between religious freedoms and principles of church-state separation embodied in the First Amendment. 242 pages. This publication is free of charge for COSA members and available in the legal database. Non-members: Order No. 06-218-W. List $50.00, National Affiliates $40.00). Individual chapters are available electronically for $7.00 each, and the entire publication is available for download for $35.00 from the Council’s online eDocs Store.

American School Board Journal, December 2003
The cover stories in this issue of the American School Board Journal focused on legal questions about religious holidays in schools. The articles, entitled "The Santa Dilemma: Should Kris Kringle be expelled from school?" and "Help for the Holidays: Where the courts haven't spoken, let community consensus be a guiding voice," can be downloaded for a modest fee.

NCLB Federal School Prayer Guidance
2003 non-regulatory guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on the constitutionally-protected prayer requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

Chart of decisions on distribution of religious and other materials from non-school entities
Compilation of federal court decisions regarding in-school distribution of religious materials and other materials from non-school entities, including Bibles, promotional materials for religious programs, anti-abortion literature, and Boy Scouts information.

Student Religious Rights: Survival Tips for School Boards
Practical advice, rather than legal analysis, for school boards about handling controversies and avoiding litigation over student religious rights, including free speech. Published by Pennsylvania School Boards Association.

Important Court Decisions on Prayer in Public Schools

Public Aid to Religious Schools: U.S. Supreme Court Cases
Comprehensive chart of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on issues related to public aid to religious schools.

Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of City of New York
June 29, 2012 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York's opinion granting the Bronx Household of Faith's motion for permanent injunction barring the school board from excluding churches from use of school facilities for religious services.

Doe v. Elmbrook School District (7th Cir 2012) en banc
Use of local Christian church to hold high school graduation ceremonies violates the Establishment Clause

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