So all the parents of our kindergarten class received an email from a parent asking if anyone would like to join tomorrow before school on school grounds (this is a public school) to pray (as it's National Prayer Day) for our school. Is this legal? Anyone have any idea??

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This is done quite often in my area of Illinois and is legal here as long as it is not in any building but can be on school grounds. It is usually held at the flagpole. It can include teachers but cannot be initiated by any school staff member.

I think it's legal because it's not endorsed by the school. It's an extension of the idea that you can have a Christian student organization on a public university campus which is not endorsed by the university.

Also, I assume that attendance is voluntary.

From what I read of previous cases, if it's STUDENT led, then that's fine.  But this was organized by a parent.

Parents have the right to act on behalf of their children under the law, so in a funny legal way they ARE the children. I predict you'll have no luck stopping this as long as it's voluntary and students are not officially required to participate.

so in a funny legal way they ARE the children

Well they do believe in fairy tales after all....

UPDATE:  The Principal got wind of this gathering and advised my daughter's teacher to tell the parent that if they want to pray it has to be on the sidewalk, NOT on school property.  So when my partner took our daughter to school this morning, what did he see? About 10 people (including the aforementioned parent) ON SCHOOL PROPERTY with their heads upturned to the sky in prayer.

Unbelievable.

If a person wants to pray, alone or in a group, I believe they have the right to do so just about anywhere it doesn't interfere with legitimate business. The principal was probably out of line with that edict.

Again, I think it's fine if a STUDENT wants to do that.  But it can't be organized by a school employee or outside people, such as a parent…which is what this was.  Either way, it's done now.  Thank you for input…much appreciated!

Calling parents "outside people" doesn't seem to recognize their legal relation to their children.

I do wonder how the courts would handle placing a huge blow-up of a quarter above the stage in the assembly hall with the "In God We Trust" on obvious display, though.

The court’s have ruled that government-fostered prayers are unconstitutional – those led, required, sanctioned, scheduled or suggested by officials.  Having this group on school grounds easily gives the tacit impression that this was something that was either sanctioned or suggested by school officials.

Therein lies the problem…in my humble opinion, of course.

 

Exactly. Impressions may be troublesome, but they aren't necessarily illegal. If a court decides that a principle in a public school leads a prayer at a school assembly is unconstitutional, it may leave the impression with some that the government hates religion.

David, I mean this in the most respectful way possible.  Don't you think maybe you trying to stop them because you don't believe is very similar to them making you pray  because they do believe.  As long as they are not forcing anyone and its not costing the tax payer anything extra I think they should be allowed to have their irrational beliefs together or individually. 

Just my opinion.

cheers

 

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