14 Jul Can a Student Take a Bible to Public School?
Are Bibles Allowed in Public Schools?
As the lines drawn by our first amendment right become more and more blurred, it can be difficult to know your rights when it comes to religion in public schools. Christian students feel more and more targeted and condemned for their beliefs within the walls of public schools and other institutions. It’s important for both parents and children to understand their rights as Americans when it comes to how they are treated by public school systems.
Can a student take a Bible to public school? According to the framework set by the 1st Amendment, a student should be able to take a Bible to a public school. The 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights would protect this action by deeming it freedom of speech, self-expression, and religion. If a public school forbids a student from bringing a Bible to school, they are violating the student’s 1st Amendment right.
Understanding your Constitutional rights and how they apply to the school system can help you notice when public schools move to violate a parent or child’s right. To know more about your child’s rights within the classroom and your rights as a parent, keep reading!
What Does the Constitution Say About Having Bibles in Public Schools?
The 1st Amendment of the Constitution is most often referenced as our “freedom of speech;” however, this amendment covers a much more broad spectrum, including that of the practice of religion. When it comes to knowing your rights and protection within public school systems, the first place to always look is the 1st Amendment. Here is what the 1st Amendment says in regards to having Bibles in public schools:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
The first declaration made within the 1st Amendment is that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” That means that the government cannot sponsor a religion at state or federal level. A term you may be more familiar with to describe this is the separation of church and state.
That being said, the government can in no way force you to participate in a certain religion or religious practices. This means that the government cannot force you to practice secularism, but they also can’t force you to recite Bible verses in public schools.
“or prohibiting the free exercise of (religion); or abridging the freedom of speech…”
While the government can’t force you to practice a certain religion, they also can’t force you not to practice one either. As long as your beliefs don’t infringe on the rights of others, you should be able to practice your religion however you like. One way you can do this is by reading your Bible, even if it is in a public school building. If a public school official denies you the right to read your Bible or bring it to school, they are then violating your 1st Amendment rights.
You religious practices are considered self-expression, and the protection of self-expression falls under the 1st Amendment. You can express your religious beliefs in projects, studies, and other works you may do in school. Officials cannot force you to not talk about your religion, and they also, as government employees, cannot force you to practice certain religious expressions.
That being said, if you are reading your Bible when you should be listening to the teacher or you’re supposed to be reading from a specific book, the teacher has the right to tell you not to be reading your Bible at that time. The teacher could even technically confiscate your Bible if you’re using it when you should be paying attention in class.
What does the Bible say about education? You can learn more by visiting my article What Does the Bible Say About Education?
What to do If a Teacher Tells You That You Can’t Have Your Bible at School:
Unfortunately, it’s not unheard of teachers telling students they can’t have their Bibles out during school. I remember being in middle school and watching a girl read her Bible at lunch. A teacher came over and told her she shouldn’t be reading her Bible during lunch period. The girl reluctantly put it away. If you or your child run into this issue with a teacher, take the following steps:
State Your First Amendment Right
The first thing you should do if a teacher tells you that you shouldn’t have your Bible in school is to state your 1st Amendment right. You can even quote word for word what the Constitution says regarding your rights:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech.”
Remember, you can’t make this argument if you’re reading your Bible when you shouldn’t be. If you’re supposed to be paying attention in class or working on a project, the teacher is justified in telling you to put your Bible away. However, if you’re reading your Bible in free time, at lunch, or during reading hour, there should be no reason that you can’t have your Bible out.
Go to School Officials
If the teacher continues to insist or threatens punishment for you having your Bible out, take the situation to school officials. You can go to your principal or the school board office. Be sure to state your 1st Amendment right as the reason you should be able to have your Bible in school.
Contact an Organization Willing to Fight For Your Rights
If the school officials aren’t willing to back you in the circumstance, find an organization who will represent you and make your voice heard. Two such organizations that have led the fight in religious liberty are Alliance Defending Freedom and the Liberty Counsel. They can represent you in a court of law and make your voice heard.
While it may just seem easier to put your Bible away when a teacher tells you, it’s important to stand up for your rights and make your grievances known if any government employee threatens your Constitutional rights. If it happens to one student, it’s bound to happen to others, and before you know it, there are laws banning Bibles in public schools.
Students are now facing daily attacks from the government in limiting their 1st amendment rights and influencing what they are taught in the classroom. Another institution that is facing just as much backlash as ever from the government is the local church. To learn exactly what the legal rights of churches are, check out my article What Legal Rights Do Churches Have?