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Navigating Religious Rights of Teachers and Students: Establishment, Accommodation, Neutrality, or Hostility?

Author(s): Samuel J. Smith

Journal: Christian Perspectives in Education
ISSN 2159-807X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2007;
Original page

Despite the notion that First Amendment rights are established, valued, and respected in the United States, there continues to be confusion in public schools that leads to legal conflict over issues associated with freedoms of speech and expression, especially as they relate to religious issues. Navigating the religious rights of teachers and students can be a precarious undertaking, as administrators’ decisions regarding the expression of religious beliefs continue to be highlighted in the media and many times are resolved in the court system at great expense to school districts. The purpose of this article is to clarify religious rights issues for school administrators and school boards. What actions risk violating the establishment clause or expressing hostility toward religion? When and how is religion best accommodated while neutrality is maintained? This study traces court decisions and laws that serve to guide religious rights policies and practices. It also examines recent conflicts and the legal organizations whose mission it is to address First Amendment violations.

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