by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Prayer During Public School Activities

§ 13.03
Key point 13-03. The First Amendment prohibits the recitation of prayers by school officials and clergy in public schools or at public school events, including graduation ceremonies and sports activities. However, some courts have allowed student-initiated prayers during such events.

The issue of student-initiated religious activities on public school property is addressed in section 13-07.

1. Prayers at Public School Graduation Ceremonies

A number of federal courts have addressed the question of whether prayers at public school graduation ceremonies violate the First Amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause. Illustrative cases are summarized below. In a 1992 ruling, the United States Supreme Court concluded that such prayers are unconstitutional, at least in some situations.[17] Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577 (1992). The case involved a challenge to a public high school policy that ...

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