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South Carolina Prayer in Public Schools Laws

The line between church and state is never as hotly contested as when it comes to schools, and especially prayer in public schools. Even the courts have had a difficult time distinguishing prohibiting state-sponsored religion and permitting the free exercise of religion when it comes to public schools. But as much trouble as courts and other states have had on the matter, it’s been settled in the Palmetto state for quite some time. Here are the basics of prayer in public school law in South Carolina.

Prayer in Public Schools

In recent years, many states have attempted to come up with prayer in public schools laws that strike the balance between freedom to practice religion and freedom from forced religious activities. Since 1995, South Carolina has mandated a minute of silence at the beginning of every school day. As long as students are not specifically directed to pray during this time, the minute of silence is constitutional.

Prayer in Public Schools Laws in South Carolina

The chart below highlights South Carolina’s prayer in public school statute.

Applicable Code Section

South Carolina Code of Laws 59-1-443: Mandatory Minute of Silence

What is Allowed?

All schools shall provide for a minute of mandatory silence at the beginning of each school day.

Even though the matter appears settled under South Carolina law, the debate about whether religious prayer is allowed in public schools shows no signs of cooling off any time soon. The Constitution itself is split on the matter: on one side of the First Amendment, the Freedom of Speech Clause prohibits the state from barring the free exercise of any religion; and on the other side, the Establishment Clause prohibits the state from establishing or sponsoring a specific religion; and the other side. Public school are state-funded, and without clear instructions from state statutes or a court regarding the acceptable limits of school prayer, schools and parents have debated the kinds of religious activities allowed in public schools. Even with South Carolina’s minute of silence, questions remain about religious groups meeting on campus and prayer at sporting events.

South Carolina Prayer in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

The intersection of religion and education is always a legal hotbed. You can find more articles and resources on this topic in FindLaw's Religion at School section. If you would like legal assistance with a school prayer matter, you can contact an South Carolina education attorney.

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