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Minnesota Prayer in Public Schools Laws

Few issues are as hotly contested, both nationwide and in the North Star State, as prayer in public schools. Even courts have had a difficult time drawing the line between permitting the free exercise of religion and prohibiting state-sponsored religion when it comes to the public school forum. Regardless of which side of the debate you're on, you may be wondering what the state law has to say on the matter? (Short answer: not much.) Here is a quick introduction to prayer in public school law in Minnesota.

Prayer in Public Schools

Whether religious prayer is allowed in public schools has been the subject of heated debate for quite some time, and the dispute shows no signs of cooling off any time soon. The First Amendment is split on the matter: on the one side, the Establishment Clause prohibits the state, including state-funded schools, from establishing or sponsoring a specific religion; and the other side, the Freedom of Speech Clause prohibits the state, and its schools, from barring the free exercise of any religion.

Many states have varying prayer in public schools laws with broad school prayer protections. While several of these laws have faced challenges in court, the ones that remain allow for a brief period of silent prayer or meditation. Other states, like Minnesota, offer no statutory guidance at all.

Prayer in Public Schools Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota, to date, has no law specific to prayer in public schools.

Applicable Code Section

No statutory provisions

State Constitutional Provision

MN Constitution Article 13 Section 2

Prohibition as to aiding sectarian school.

In no case shall any public money or property be appropriated or used for the support of schools wherein the distinctive doctrines, creeds or tenets of any particular Christian or other religious sect are promulgated or taught.

What is Allowed?

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Absent clear instructions from state statutes or a court regarding the acceptable limits of school prayer, schools and parents continue to debate the kinds of religious activities allowed in public schools. For example, a recent controversy has surfaced in Minnesota regarding Muslim prayer at a charter school. Even without a state law on school prayer, Minnesota's state constitution prohibits using public money or property for religious schools. To remain within this constraint it is generally thought that any prayer at a publicly-funded school must be voluntary and student-led.

Minnesota Prayer in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

As noted above, figuring out how the courts will deal with religion in schools without a specific law on the books can be a complicated. You can contact an Minnesota education attorney if you would like legal assistance with a school prayer matter. You can also find additional information and resources on this topic in FindLaw's Religion at School section.

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