Students' Rights Briefings

Freedom of Religion


Another important right contained in the First Amendment is freedom of religion. The separation of church and state that is guaranteed by the Constitution is in effect in your school. You have the right to practice your own religion or no religion at all without the interference of the government. There are two clauses that deal directly with the freedom of religion:

The Establishment Clause is the clause of the First Amendment that says the government can’t promote religion in any way. Because public schools are run by the government, public school officials can’t promote religious practices.

The Free Exercise Clause is the clause of the First Amendment that gives you the right to practice your religion (or be non-religious) as you choose. Because of this, public schools can’t penalize or discriminate against you because of your beliefs.

In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court established a three-part test that can help decide if a school is promoting religion. To pass the “Lemon test,” the policy in effect must not have a religious purpose, it must not end up promoting or favoring any religious beliefs, and it must not get the government closely involved with religion.

Freedom of Religion – In the Courts!