Prayer in public schools was ruled unconstitutional -- as a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment -- by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962. Many states responded to the court decision by passing laws that authorize a "moment of silence" or a time for "silent reflection" for students, which offers the opportunity for silent prayer. Georgia prayer in public schools laws allow for a school-sponsored, 60-second period of "quiet reflection," which may include prayer or any other religious or non-religious practice.
This article is an overview of Georgia’s prayer in public school law. For additional articles and resources see FindLaw's Religion at School section and the links below.
|What is the Establishment Clause of the Constitution?||The Establishment Clause of the Constitution prohibits the government from creating laws promoting or creating an official religion. For the purpose of the Establishment Clause, a public school is considered an agent of the government.|
|Code Section||Title 20, Chapter 2, section 1050 Of the Georgia Code governs “prayer” in public schools.|
|What is Behavior is Allowed in Public Schools?||At the start of each school day, the teacher shall hold a brief period of quiet reflection (up to 60 seconds) for all students in the classroom.|
|Why Does a Moment of Silent Reflection Not Violate the Establishment Clause?||So long as a teacher does not instruct students to pray during the moment of silent reflection, that quiet time does not violate the Constitution. Students may choose to spend the time praying or engaging in some other silent activity. At least one court has said that a moment of silence is a “minor and nonintrusive accommodation of religion.”
Although prayer in public school was declared unconstitutional in 1962, it remains a hotly debated issue. Both proponents and opponents of school prayer are very passionate about the topic. Stay current on school prayer law by checking out these additional resources.
Research the Law
Georgia Prayer in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources
If you are a parent or a student at a public educational institution, you may consider contacting an experienced education attorney if you have questions about the legality of actions by school officials.
Contact a qualified attorney.