A religious liberties organization is pushing a natonal "Free to Speak" campaign in conjunction with Religious Freedom Day to be observed this Saturday. The campaign is designed to educate educators about the religious freedoms of students and teachers in the public schools.
The campaign is a project of The Gateways to Better Education group in concert with the Allliance Defense Fund. Organizers are working to distribute packets to classrooms teachers and school administrators explaining how freedom of religious expression applies in the public school setting.
"The classroom should be a safe place for students of all ages to express their faith in class discussions and homework assignments, just as the U.S. Department of Education has affirmed," says Eric Buehrer, founder of Gateways.
Over the last 15 years, under both the Clinton and Bush administrations, the U.S. Education Department has issued guidelines on religious freedom in schools. Yet, most public school instructors and principals are not even aware of them.
The Alliance Defense Fund has identified seven essential freedoms in the U.S. Department of Education directives:
1) Students may pray, read religious material, and talk about their faith at school
2) Students may organize religious clubs at school
3) Students may express their faith in class work and homework
4) Teachers may organize prayer groups with other teachers
5) Schools may allow students to go off campus for religious studies during school hours
6) Students may express their faith at school events
7) Students may express their faith at graduation ceremonies
Buehrer says teachers need to accomodate the values of every student in their classroom, and that includes students of religious faith. "One of the most important civics lessons all students should learn is that freedom of religious expression is a fundamental right of all Americans."
Since 1993, U.S. Presidents have issued proclamations declaring January 16th as Religious Freedom Day. Many churches across America observed yesterday as Religious Freedom Sunday.
For more information on the Free to Speak Campaign and Gateways to Better Education, visit this link: