19 Jul What Rights Do Christian Students Have?
Knowing Your Rights as a Christian in a Public School
In the time we’re living in, the Christian faith has never been more attacked in America. There has been a turning away of Christian ideals and a prejudice about those who still try to live a Christian life. If you’re a Christian student in a public school, you have surely had to deal with these pressures. Luckily, the United States Constitution has something to say about the rights you have as a Christian.
What rights do Christian students have? The 1st Amendment of the Constitution protects Christian students from being forced to practice curriculum or topics that their religion goes against; it also gives Christian students the right to self-expression within public schools, from reading the Bible during lunch to including Bible verses in subjects in projects. Lastly, the 1st Amendment also gives Christian students the right to worship and assemble, as they would in Christian clubs like Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Knowing your rights as a Christian student can enable you to exercise the liberty the Constitution gives you. When you know the rights you have, it’s easy to spot when others’ rights are being violated. To learn more about the rights the Constitution gives Christian students, keep reading.
What Exactly Does the Constitution Say in Regards to Religious Liberty?
The Constitution addresses freedom of religion in the 1st Amendment. Here’s the exact text from the document itself:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
In this statement, the Constitution bans the government from forcing citizens to practice a certain religion or belief, including secularism. This also means that any government official, including public school employees, cannot force students to practice any religion.
“(Congress shall make no law) prohibiting the free exercise thereof (of religion)”
The government, and its employees, cannot prohibit self-expression or the practice of religion. This means they cannot keep you from worshiping God or keep you from having items that express your faith, like clothing and jewelry.
“(Congress shall make no law abridging) the right of the people to peaceably assemble…”
Government institutions, like public schools, cannot keep you from gathering to worship and talk about God. This means they cannot ban religious clubs from happening on their property. Students can freely choose to take part in these organizations.
While the Constitution clearly outlines the liberty you have within public schools, it doesn’t mean that students won’t be faced with issues that violate their rights. It’s important to know what to do when your religious rights have been violated. If you dealt with this, there are religious organizations that will represent you. To learn more, visit the website of Alliance Defending Freedom.
Public Schools Cannot Force You to Practice Secularism
The government cannot force a religion on belief on you, including the practice of secularism. Many feel as if the government and public schools are becoming more and more strict in regards to silencing the practice of Christian beliefs. All that said, the government, or any public school official, cannot force you to deny your religion or your religious practices.
While this may seem like common sense, public school curriculum is leaning more in the direction of denying the truth that God does exist. Students may face the choice of getting in A in class by denying what they actually believe. This violates the rights of Christian students by forcing a religion or a belief on them.
Public Schools Cannot Force You to Learn Curriculum That Goes Against Your Religion
This brings us to our next point. Public schools cannot force you to learn curriculum that goes against your religion. Forcing certain curriculum on students can be considered forcing a belief or a “religion” on them, which violates the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.
While schools cannot force you study other religions and follow their practices, keep in mind that public schools can teach about other religions from a secular standpoint.
Public Schools Cannot Deny You the Right to Read Your Bible In School
What about your Bible? Can you bring your Bible to school and openly read it? According to the Constitution of the United States, you can! Reading your Bible is a sign of self-expression, which the 1st Amendment clearly says the government cannot abridge. A public school teacher cannot tell you that you shouldn’t have your Bible or that you can’t bring it to school.
While you have the right to carry your Bible with you wherever you go, remember that your teacher does have the right to ask you to put your Bible away if you are using it when you should be working on schoolwork or listening to a lesson. However, you can read your Bible during free-time or lunch, or during a specified reading time.
Public Schools Cannot Deny You the Right to Talk About Your Religion in School Projects
Since the Constitution gives you the freedom of speech, this means you can exercise this right in school projects, homework assignments, or presentations. While you can share a presentation that includes aspects of your faith, the teacher cannot endorse the beliefs you share, as this would look like a government official establishing a religion.
This means that other students of other beliefs can also include aspects of their faith in presentations and projects as well.
Public Schools Cannot Force You to Not Wear Religious Garments or Symbols
The garments you wear due to your religion or your beliefs are protected under the concept of freedom of self-expression in the 1st Amendment. Whether you wear a head covering, a cross necklace, or even a t-shirt with a scripture on it, you have the right to do so according to the Constitution of the United States.
This means you are also protected from dress code restrictions that may apply. For example, dress codes for gym classes may require students to change into a gym uniform, which often includes a set of shorts. If you religiously believe that you shouldn’t wear shorts as they are immodest, then the school should work to accommodate you by allowing you to bring another form of clothing that follows your religious practices but that enables you to still participate in class.
Christian Students Have the Right to Decide What School They Attend
This last point has been controversial in recent years due to more and more restrictions and inconveniences that make school choice more difficult. With all that said, parents and students should be able to decide where they want their child to go to school. Parents can choose to send their kids to private schools or even to homeschool them without the government trying to force a decision on them.
As the curriculum in public schools has become more and more one-sided, parents are opting to send their children to private schools or homeschool groups. The right school choice gives parents a hand in how and what they want their children to be learning.
Education plays a big role in how your children will view the world and contribute to society; for this reason, it’s important to know what the Bible says about education. To learn more, check out my article What Does the Bible Say About Education?