The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the freedom from government establishment of a religion just as much as it guarantees the right to freely practice the religion of your choice. But when it comes to school prayer, these two elements of constitutional law create a tension between those who support school prayer and those who oppose religious content in public schools. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1962 that public schools may not lead students in an official prayer at the start of each day.
Generally, public schools may not restrict a student's expression or promote any particular religion. But any religious expression must be voluntary and nondisruptive. Some states have a "minute of silence" for students and faculty to silently meditate or pray, while others still have laws on the books that are unenforceable under the U.S. Constitution.
See FindLaw's Religion at School section For additional articles related to school prayer, including School Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance: Constitutionality.
Prayer in Nebraska Public Schools at a Glance
Like many other states, Nebraska requires requires all school districts to set aside a period of silence at the start of each day in order to accommodate the religious needs of students without violating the Constitution. Any prayer, meditation, or reflection must be silent and voluntary.
|Applicable Code Section||Nev. Rev. Stat. § 388.075|
|What is Allowed?||Every district must set aside a period of silence at the start of every day for voluntary individual meditation, prayer, or reflection.|
Note: State laws are never considered final and are subject to change at any time through the enactment of newly signed statutes, decisions from appellate courts, and other means. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, it may be a good idea to also contact a Nebraska education law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
The Lemon Test: Does it Violate the First Amendment?
Religion may be discussed in public schools as long as it is used in an academic context and not proselytized. The so-called "Lemon" test says that a public school's policy involving religion -- in order to be considered constitutional -- must:
Research the Law
Prayer in Nebraska Public Schools: Related Legal Resources
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