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Indiana Prayer in Public Schools Laws

It seems like few issues get Hoosier State parents as offended today as prayer in public schools, regardless of which side of the debate you’re on. So what does the law have to say on the matter? Here's a quick overview of prayer in public school law in Indiana.

Prayer in Public Schools

Prayer in public schools has been the subject of heated debate for quite some time, pitting two parts of the First Amendment against each other: the Establishment Clause versus the Freedom of Speech Clause. While some states offer no statutory guidance, others with broad school prayer protections have faced challenges in court. States can have varying prayer in public schools laws, and Indiana’s specifically allows for a brief period of silent prayer or meditation.

Prayer in Public Schools Laws in Indiana

Learn more about school prayer and Indiana law with the table and links below.

Applicable Code Sections

20-10.1-7-10; 20-10.1-7-11

What Is Allowed?

Brief period of silent prayer or meditation

What Is Not Allowed?

Schools and employees may not cause or encourage attendance at voluntary religious observances or allow students to coerce attendance or attach opprobrium to these observances.

Indiana’s school prayer statute is known as a "minute of silence" law, which is allowed so long as the state (in the form of the school or school staff) doesn't impose any pressure on students to pray or engage in any kind of religious activity. The law explicitly states this time is not for religious service or exercise and cannot be conducted as one. Instead, students must be allowed to meditate silently, on a religious theme or not. It's important to note that once a teacher or school official suggests that any moment of silence should be used for religious prayer, the activity is then considered to advance religion and is unconstitutional.

Even with clear instructions from court regarding these silent periods, schools and parents continue to debate the other kinds of religious activities allowed in public schools. Some examples of allowable practices include use of school facilities by religious groups, permission for student-organized religious groups to meet on school property before and after the school day, and individual students praying during the day (as long as they don’t disrupt educational activities).

Indiana Prayer in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

Figuring out how the legal and education systems deal with religion can be a tricky prospect. If you would like legal assistance with a school prayer case, you can contact an Indiana education attorney to discuss your case. You can also visit FindLaw's Religion at School section for additional articles and resources on this topic.

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