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FAITH IN ACTION

Faith & Freedom Praises President Trump for Protecting the Right to Pray in Public Schools

Washington, DC – The pro-religious freedom Faith & Freedom Coalition praised the Trump administration today for proposing guidance on religious freedom at the U.S. Department of Education that requires states to report to the federal government any instance where the right to pray has been denied in public schools. Faith & Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed released the following statement today concerning the announcement:

 “The over 2 million members and supporters of Faith & Freedom are thankful that the Trump administration is protecting the rights of people of faith, particularly school children, and ensuring they aren’t subjected to coercion or illegal punishment for exercising their constitutionally protected right to prayer in any setting. This guidance protects students, teachers and faith-based institutions and is the latest in a long list of actions by President Trump to ensure equal protection and due process for people of faith. Today’s action undergirds President Trump’s legacy as the most pro-faith, pro-life and pro-family president of my lifetime.” 

The new guidance requires, as a condition of funding, that local schools certify once a year to their state departments of education that they have no policy that prevents participation in constitutionally protected prayer. Once a year, state departments of education would also have to report to the U.S. Department of Education two things: a list of local school boards that failed to make the required certification and any complaints made to that department about a local school board or school that has allegedly denied a person a right to engage in constitutionally protected prayer. The updated guidance clarifies that state departments of education must provide a clear process for people to report complaints about a local school board or a local school and the new guidance also clarifies that if a state department of education is aware of a lawsuit against a local school or school board that alleges it has denied a person the right to engage in prayer, then it has to report it to the Department of Education.

The proposed guidance comes on the heels of President Trump’s 2017 Executive Order to protect religious freedom and his formation of a White House office to organize the federal government to work alongside faith-based organizations, and recent Supreme Court decisions in favor of religious freedom protections, including the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer, and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby cases.

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