United States President Donald Trump has unveiled new federal guidelines to protect the constitutional right to pray in public schools.
The president previewed his idea earlier this month at the Evangelicals for Trump rally at the King Jesus International Ministry in Florida, saying he would take action to safeguard students’ and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in school.
“We will not allow faithful Americans to be bullied by the hard Left,” Trump said.
The president told CBN News’ David Brody at the White House Thursday, “Well, it is a cultural war. You have two sides. You have a side that believes so strongly in prayer and they’re being restricted and it’s getting worse and worse and I think we’ve made a big impact. And we’re loosening up a lot and I want to loosen it up totally. But you do have things happening today that 10 or 15 years ago would have been unthinkable, what’s happening.”
Now the US Department of Education is sending letters to officials in all 50 states to ensure students and teachers don’t face discrimination for practicing their right of religious freedom.
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos explained the new rules protect students’ right to pray, but they also go beyond that to protect faith-based student groups and much more: “The Department’s efforts will level the playing field between religious and non-religious organizations competing for federal grants, as well as protect First Amendment freedoms on campus and the religious liberty of faith-based institutions.”
White House Domestic Policy Director Joe Grogan said, “We’re going to be making it clear that students have the right to pray publicly in school if they so choose.”
Due to cases where the law has been misunderstood, today’s announcement reinforces what’s on the books. Grogan says it will “remind the chief education officers in all 50 states that students have the right to pray at their own direction, to gather at their own direction, to bring the Bible to school if they choose to, to bring the Koran or the Torah in.”
The bottom line is this: Public schools now risk losing federal funds if they violate students’ rights to religious expression.
The prayer announcement comes on Religious Freedom Day, an annual event held on January 16 to mark America’s long history of protecting religious liberty going all the way back to the 1786 passage of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom.
“A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure, because justice, goodness and peace cannot prevail without the glory of Almighty God,” Trump said this month at his evangelical rally. “For America to thrive in the 21st Century we must renew faith and family as the center of American life.”
“These angry radicals want to impose absolute conformity by censoring speech, tearing down crosses and symbols of faith and banning religious believers from public life,” he said. “But we will not back down, we are standing tall for the values that we hold dear.”
“I will be taking action to safeguard students’ and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools,” Trump said. “They want to take that right along with many other rights.”
“My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,” he said. “I really do believe we have God on our side.”