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North Dakota Prayer in Public Schools Laws

In the relationship between government and religion, one of the central areas of overlap is public school. The big question being, are children allowed to pray in public schools? And, if so, are public schools allowed to lead students in prayer?

Flickertail State parents, schools, legislators, and even courts all have their own opinions on the matter, so how has the state’s legal system sorted out when, where, and how prayer is allowed in public schools? This is a quick introduction to prayer in public school laws in North Dakota.

Prayer in Public Schools

When considering the law with respect to public school prayer, it is important to differentiate between school-sponsored prayer and voluntary prayer. A school violates federal law by setting aside time or space specifically for "prayer," but that doesn't mean students are prohibited from praying voluntarily. For instance, a student who says a prayer to herself and then does the sign of the cross (a common Christian ritual) before taking a test is not violating the law. Similarly, someone giving a graduation speech may invoke religion as long as it is clearly not endorsed by the school.

North Dakota Law

North Dakota's prayer in public schools statutes are listed in the table below. See FindLaw's Religion at School section for additional articles and resources, including School Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance: Constitutionality.

More Information on Prayer in Public School Laws

Applicable Code Section 15.1-19-03.1
What is Allowed?
  1. A student may voluntarily pray aloud or participate in religious speech at any time before, during, or after the schoolday to the same extent a student may voluntarily speak or participate in secular speech.
  2. A school board, school administrator, or teacher may not impose any restriction on the time, place, manner, or location of any student-initiated religious speech or prayer which exceeds the restriction imposed on students' secular speech.
  3. A school board may, by resolution, allow a classroom teacher to impose up to one minute of silence for meditation, reflection, or prayer at the beginning of each schoolday.

Note: State laws are always subject to change at any time through the enactment of new legislation, decisions from higher courts, and other means. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact a North Dakota education law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Prayer in North Dakota Public Schools: Related Resources

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