Religious Freedom in Schools: Booklet available to teach Students, Parents, and Educators the State of the Law Regarding Students’ Religious Liberty in Schools

January 2009 

Two important dates in January recognize the right of religious freedom: January 16th is national Religious Freedom Day and January 11th is Religious Freedom Sunday, a nationwide initiative established by Gateways to Better Education to increase awareness of Religious Freedom Day. January 16th is the anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, drafted by Thomas Jefferson and intended to protect the rights of all people to express, or to not express, their religious beliefs free of discrimination based on those beliefs. Every year, the President of the United States of America issues a statement discussing Religious Freedom Day and calls on all Americans to “reflect on the great blessing of religious liberty, endeavor to preserve this freedom for future generations, and commemorate this day with appropriate events and activities in their sch”ols, places of worship, neighborhoods, and homes” (“Religious Freedom Day, 2007” press release, available online at The Alliance Defense Fund, in an electronic newsletter, asserts that religious freedom in schools is a continuing issue: “In too many instances, public school teachers tell Christian students they cannot include their faith in their homework assignments or classroom discussions.” ADF then goes on to say that “the U.S. Department of Education has issued guidelines explaining students’ religious liberties. Students can pray, read their Bibles, and talk about their faith at school during school hours. They can also express their faith in their class work and homework.” January 11th is Religious Freedom Sunday, a nationwide initiative created by Gateways to Better Education with the purpose of creating more awareness of Religious Freedom Day. Religious Freedom Sunday “calls churches to ‘proclaim liberty throughout the land’ (Lev.25:10) by honoring the educators within their congregations and informing the students, parents, and educators in the church about students’ religious liberty in their public schools.” To help churches do this, and to highlight the legal assistance that ADF can provide, Gateways published “Free to Speak,” a pocket-sized summary of the U.S. Department of Education’s guidelines on students’ religious liberties. January 11th, Religious Freedom Sunday, is a day for churches across the nation to distribute “Freedom to Speak” to their congregations. For more information about how to order “Free to Speak,” visit or call (800) 929-1163. *This information was taken from an electronic newsletter from the Alliance Defense Fund. More information is also available on the Gateways to Better Education website at