ACLU Comment on Trump Administration Guidance on School Prayer

January 16, 2020 3:45 pm

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WASHINGTON — The Trump administration issued guidance on school prayer today, which is nearly identical to the existing guidance issued in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush.

The guidance explains: “[T]eachers and other public school officials … may not lead their classes in prayer, devotional readings from the Bible, or other religious activities, nor may school officials use their authority to attempt to persuade or compel students to participate in prayer or other religious activities.”

“Despite the president’s hype, there’s very little that’s new in today’s ‘school prayer’ guidance,” said Daniel Mach, director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. “Importantly, both the Bush guidance and the copycat document released today affirm a core constitutional protection: School officials are prohibited from imposing their faith on students. The question, as always, is whether public-school officials will heed this warning. If they don’t, we’ll be there, as always, to correct them — and if necessary, we’ll see them in court.”

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