Some of the most important rights and freedoms are found in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, including the freedom of religion. But while this protects an individual's freedom to practice their chosen religion without restraint, it also protects an individual's freedom from religion (specifically, any religion sponsored by the state).
This means that public schools, nearly all of which are federally funded, may not sponsor or promote any one religion. To "sponsor" a religion could be something as simple as leading the school in a Christian prayer each morning, which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional. Many schools now have a one-minute period of silence for voluntary and non-disruptive prayer.
Prayer in Alaska's Public Schools: Overview
Alaska offers no clear statutory guidance on prayer or meditation in public schools, although federal law is well established in this regard.
See FindLaw's Religion at School section For additional articles related to school prayer, including School Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance: Constitutionality.
|Applicable Code Section||No statutory provisions|
|What is Allowed?||Although Alaska offers no statutory guidance on this, public schools are free to institute a "minute of silence" at the beginning of each school day to accommodate the religious customs (i.e. meditation, prayer, etc.) of students.
Note: State laws tend to change quite regularly, most often when newly signed legislation is enacted, but sometimes through judicial action or other means. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of these pages, you also may want to contact an Alaska 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?
It is legal to discuss religion as a topic 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
Alaska Prayer in Public School Laws: Related Resources
Contact a qualified attorney.