Attorney General Jeff Landry and U.S. Congressman Mike Johnson want parents and students to know that public schools in Louisiana are not religion-free zones. The two men have released a 15-page guidance that outlined how religious expression is constitutional in public schools. The men also plan on mailing the guidance to every school superintendent in the state.
“It is important to remember that our Constitution and laws protect the rights of students to live out their faith on campus,” said Congressman Johnson in a press release. “Religious liberty is the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights, and the next generation of Americans needs to be encouraged to help preserve it.”
“Unfortunately, too many people have been misled into believing schools must be religion-free zones when the truth is our First Amendment rights are not surrendered at the school house door,” said Attorney General Jeff Landry in a statement. “Congressman Johnson and I hope this publication will help all citizens better understand religious liberty.”
According to Nola.com, the documents provide 26 “frequently asked questions” to questions such as student-led prayer and when students can pray. The answers given in the document are also referenced by cited court cases.
The released guidelines also state prayers at athletic events are permitted when school officials are not involved. Likewise, student-led, student-initiated prayers must also be allowed at graduations. The guidelines come a month after a mother sued the Webster Parish School District in northwest Louisiana, saying they had unconstitutional, school-sponsored Christian prayers at athletic events and graduations.
Before he was elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson was a constitutional lawyer who focused on religious liberty related cases. He successfully defended religious liberty in the courtroom both in Louisiana and nationwide.