American Heritage Alliance


Our Christian Rights At Public Schools

(compiled from court rulings, law, and government directives)

 

Thanks to American Center For Law and Justice and the American Family Association Center For Law and Policy for information and their assistance in the following:

1. The following issues have all been established as legal rights by the courts and government. It is important that you request a unified meeting with your local school superintendents and school boards and request that they review the following laws and regulations for the purpose of clarification and identification of you and your children's legal rights. Then request that the school board put these legal rights in the record and mandate the following at your local schools in order to support and maintain America's Great Sacred Heritage. There is much misinformation and deception circulated in error concerning these rights. Unless we Christians take a stand, these rights will not be fully known and our children will be victims of the lies of those who stand opposed to our rights and America's Christian Heritage. The meeting with the Superintendent and the school board should be attended and supported by a number of committed parents and local leaders, community and political, if possible. Follow up with sending copies to and meetings with local principals with a letter of purpose. Don't forget, they work for the citizens and 85% of Americans are Christians- that means you have rights- your voice and your vote. It is time we stood up for our legal rights and America's Christian Heritage. May God Bless America Again!

  • The phrases "God Bless America" and "In God We Trust" (Our National motto) are legal and protected right of free speech (by the courts).
  • In the Pledge of Allegiance, "under God", is legal free speech (by the courts).
  • A "Moment of Silence" (and now in many states also "or prayer" - check with your state) is legal ( this is conditional, that is, it is permitted when done in accordance with the guidelines approved by prior court decisions. (Cf. Brown v. Gilmore, 533 U.S. 1301 (2001) (Rehnquist, C.J., denying application for injunction against Virginia moment of silence statute).
  • Elective Bible courses are legal (approved Bible curriculum has been developed and is being taught already in many school districts in 33 states) - we cannot however evangelize or have teacher led prayer; reference Supreme Court cases "Stone vs. Graham", "Edwards vs. Aguillard", "Zorach vs. Clausen", Federal District Court case "Wiley vs. Franklin." The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools is the oldest and largest organization offering a curriculum meeting constitutional guidelines. Their website is www.bibleinschools.org
  • Teaching of U.S. history and the facts of our Christian Heritage is legal and should be taught whenever possible. We were founded a Christian nation and a great many of our founding documents reflect that fact -to deny it or not teach it would be a gross error as to our heritage and history. We cannot however, evangelize; that is attempt to convince someone to turn their life over to Christ in the classroom.
  • Bible clubs and Christian clubs are legal and upheld by the courts at schools as long as there are other secular clubs. If the secular clubs can meet after school instruction hours then Christian based clubs have the same rights.


2. Religious based organizations can use school facilities after hours if other groups have that privilege (Equal Access Act), EAA, 20 USC 4071, 1984.

3. Student led and initiated prayer is legal at football games if done impromptu, not over P.A. system, and not led or assigned by faculty or administrators.

4. A Bible or Christian group can advertise and make announcements at school if other groups and clubs are allowed.

5. High school Christians can wear Christian messages on their clothes, share their faith at non-instructional times, pass out tracts; junior high students have the right to pray and have religious discussions on their campus, distribute literature with some restrictions, can wear religious t-shirts to school, form religious clubs to the extent that students may express themselves through the same means on other topics and in forming clubs and organizations. In other words, the school may impose reasonable restrictions on when, where and so on, provided it is done equally to all, and Christians are not singled out for adverse treatment. The same is true of Christians passing out holiday and religious cards and wearing symbols and the like.

6. Valedictorians, salutatorians, honorary student speakers can give speeches on religious subjects, including reading from the Bible; baccalaureate services are permitted and if the school facilities are available to other groups then they most be made available for baccalaureate services.

7. Students are free to observe religious holidays and express their beliefs and convictions as they apply to a particular holiday; they have the right to distribute Christmas cards or religious tracts on the "true meaning of Christmas" during non-instructional times.

8. Students may express their beliefs during classroom discussions, as well as in the context of appropriate classroom assignments; they may draw a picture, write a poem, prepare an essay on any topic of choice ( the birth of Christ etc.) or any religious subject the student wishes. School officials cannot discriminate against a student's work simply because of its religious nature.

9. Students may opt out of a class for objectionable religious reasons. The Hatch Amendment passed in 1984 allowed parents the right to opt out their children if the school made use of experimental or values-related classes that depart from academics. The Hatch Amendment stated that the parents have the right to examine and inspect all instructional material, including that used in experimental or testing programs. Unless parental consent is given, no student shall be required to submit to any kind of test designed to reveal information of a non-academic nature. Know what your child is being exposed to in school! (This does vary as to magnitude and dimension of opt-out and on what issues from state to state- check on your state laws also). Click here to obtain a letter to your School Principal enforcing YOUR childs rights as a student based on Hatch Amendment - this is extremely important.

10. "Music, art, literature and drama having religious themes or basis are permitted as part of curriculum for school-sponsored activities and programs if presented in a prudent and objective manner and as a traditional part of cultural and religious heritage of the particular holiday"; reference The Supreme Court in the case Florey vs. Sioux Falls School District 1980.

11. The Supreme Court has indicated many times that teaching about religion, as distinguished from religious indoctrination, is an important part of a complete education.

Parental Rights in Public Education
Focus on The Family Article.

Guidelines for Religion in Public Schools, Sec of Ed

                          
Pub.1 - Feb, 2003           Pub. 2 - Aug, 1995

Secretary of Education - Letter on Constitutionally Protected Prayer

The public school's approach to religion in the curriculum must be academic not evangelical - "A Parents Guide to Religion in Public Schools," by the National Congress of Parents and Teachers.

12. Christmas trees and the expression Christmas and "Christmas Holidays" are legal.

13. Students may bring Bibles or religious books or literature to school as long as they do not disrupt instructional times.

14. Schools have the discretion of releasing students from lessons that are objectionable on religious or conscientious grounds- not generally excused from lessons that may be inconsistent with their religious beliefs; schools may dismiss students to off-campus religious instruction.

15. Praying in groups or alone is allowable and legal (including lunch-time and between classes) if it does not interfere with instructional times.

16. Religious symbols may be worn by students and even used as tools for classroom instruction or dramas, including crosses, menorah, Star of David, and nativity scenes (see number 9 for clarification).

17. Christmas carols and Christmas plays and musicals may be allowed if they do not evangelize openly; The Supreme Court stated "Music, without sacred music, architecture minus the cathedral, or painting, without scriptural themes would be eccentric, and incomplete, even from a secular point of view. One can hardly respect a system of education that would leave a student wholly ignorant of the currents of religious thought that moved the world society for a part in which he is being prepared. .It would be literally impossible to develop a public school curriculum that did not in some way affect the religious or non-religious sensibilities of some of the students or their parents. School administrators should, of course, be sensitive to the religious beliefs or disbeliefs of their constituents and should attempt to avoid conflict, but they need not and should not sacrifice the quality of the student's education. They need only insure that the primary effect of the school's policy is secular." "Florey vs. Sioux Falls school district", US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

18. The American Family Association, The Christian Law Association, Christian Legal Society, American Center For Law and Justice, Alliance Defense Fund, the Liberty Counsel, the Pacific Justice Institute, the Rutherford Institute will assist and even defend religious rights of school districts, teachers, students, or parents when notified.

19. The Supreme Court has time and time again affirmed the well established principle that parents possess a right to control the upbringing of their children. The Congress, in 1978, sought to protect parental rights when they enacted the "Protection Of Pupil's Rights Act (PPRA)" sometimes referred to as the Hatch Amendment. The PPRA permits parents to inspect classroom materials. Additionally many states have laws granting parents the right to remove their children from certain courses, typically sex or health education courses. A parent's right to remove a child from objectionable classroom instruction and activity is grounded in three constitutional provisions:
The Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Law and the First Amendment Free Speech and Free Exercise Clause.
The following are the Laws Provisions and Amendments on which this right is based:
The potential scenarios faced by Christian parents typically fall into two basic categories; those that involve some degree of student coercion and those that involve mere "exposure" to objectionable or offensive ideas. There is a strong constitutional argument under the Fourteenth Amendment, that parents, and only parents, have the right to direct their children's moral, ethical, and religious development.
The claim of Christian parents that school curricula has infringed their right under the due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to control the education of their children is derived from a line of significant Supreme Court cases. When the challenged activity involves coercion, the First Amendment Free Speech Clause may offer the strongest argument against it. Whenever a student is forced to participate in a classroom activity or to embrace an opinion contrary to that student's or his parent's religious beliefs, constitutional issues immediately arise. The Free Exercise Clause provides another ground upon which parents can challenge not only coercion, but the mere exposure of school children to classroom instruction, material or activity that is hostile to their faith. Indeed it can be argued that exposure to offensive material, as opposed to forced participation in an activity, is simply a more subtle variety of coercion. The Free Exercise argument asserts that the school's choice of certain instructional materials effectively indoctrinates school children with values and beliefs hostile to the family's religious faith. By initiating and maintaining an open dialogue with school administrators on this issue, parents can serve as a grassroots catalyst for educational reform. Parents should also consider running for school board and becoming involved in school policy decision making. In taking such affirmative steps at the local level, parents can influence school curriculum and encourage the adoption of opt-out policies.

Historical Quotes and Principles

The Supreme Court of The United States, in the case of the Church of the Holy Spirit v. United States, 1892 said this: "These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances, that this is a Christian nation." (This U.S. Supreme Court opinion includes a lengthy and detailed record of the historic evidences of America's Christian heritage.)

George Washington presided over the Constitutional Convention and said: "If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed in the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical society, certainly I would never have placed my signature to it." ( Reply to Virginia United Baptist Churches, May 10, 1789 ).

Washington's "General Thanksgiving" speech Oct. 14, 1789…"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a Day Of Public Thanksgiving And Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God…"

Samuel Adams, member of the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration: " Let…statesmen and patriots unite in their endeavors to renovate the age by…educating their little boys and girls..and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system."

Patrick Henry, Delegate to the 2nd Continental Congress, Congressman and five-time governor to Virginia; turned down nominations as Secretary of State and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ! For this reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here."

John Adams, member of the Continental Congress,2nd President of the United States, Vice President To the U.S., Commissioner to France, U.S. Ambassador to England: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

Thomas Jefferson
,"No power over the freedom of religion…(is) delegated to the United States by the Constitution."

Fisher Ames, delegate to the Constitutional Convention and co-writer of the First Amendment wrote: … "the Bible should always remain the principle text book in America's classrooms. Its morals are pure, its examples captivating and noble…the Bible will justly remain the standard of language as well as of faith."

Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration, member of Continental Congress, founder of 5 universities, in a "Defense of the Use of The Bible in Schools", 1791; "Surely future generations wouldn't try to take the Bible out of schools. In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, if we were to remove the Bible from schools, I lament that we could be wasting so much time and money in punishing crime and would be taking so little plains to prevent them."

Alex de Tocqueville, French author and philosopher of renown who came on extended stay in America to find out the secret of the success of the American Independence : " Upon my arrival in the United States, the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention…The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other…Religion in America…must…be regarded as the foremost of the political institutions of that country…From the earliest settlement of the emigrants, politics and religion contracted an alliance which has never been dissolved."

John Quincy Adams, President of the U.S.: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected, in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity… The United States of America were no longer colonies. They were an independent nation of Christians."

Abraham Lincoln: "We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

Harry Truman
, President of U.S.: "the basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a ..government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state."

The Gallup Organization reports
, "In the aftermath of the recent school shootings in the nation's schools, more people are calling for a return to traditional family values- including prayer in the classrooms." **

  • Some 70% favor allowing spoken daily prayers in the classroom
  • 71% want the Bible to be used in literature, history, and social studies classes
  • Nearly 3 out of every 4 want to let public schools display the Ten Commandments
  • An overwhelming 83% favor allowing students to offer prayer aloud as part of official graduation ceremonies

Our Lord Commands, Warns And Exhorts Us:

Deuteronomy 30: 11-16; 19-20 "Now what I am commanding you is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it? Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, " Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commands, laws and decrees; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess."
This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you and I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land He swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised…my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Hebrews 10:35-39

I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none." Ezekiel 23:30

"You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me you will obey what I command." John 14:14-15

May God help, Protect and Bless America and may He hear our hearts and see our actions as we turn to Him in Love, Faith and Obedience.
"If We Do The Possible, God Will Do The Impossible!"… Join Us!

Thank You,
Murray Hornsby, Director,
American Heritage Alliance Inc. - The Nehemiah Ministry
Compiled and written by Murray Hornsby
email: mhornsby@americanheritagealliance.org

God Bless You!


**Gallup Poll 7/9/99