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Any help anyone could bring was more than welcome."Similar "gray areas" arise involving religious clubs and programs.
In this area, clobbered by unemployment, crime, and drugs, so many middle-schoolers had rap sheets that parole officers had a campus office.
Pastors occasionally addressed morning assembly and sometimes used Christian language in the hallways. Lawrence, who was not religious at the time, says, "I never saw a problem with it." The school population was predominantly African-American and culturally rooted in Christianity, so in his view there was no evangelizing: "It was an all-out war against the streets.
In 1990, the court compelled public high schools to give student-led religious clubs the same access enjoyed by other non-curricular clubs.
Then in 2001 the court ruled that elementary schools that welcomed programs such as Girl Scouts could not bar the after-school Good News Club because it was evangelical Christian. Though the courts have consistently barred school-sponsored prayers, when Nicholas Weldy surveyed Ohio school superintendents for his University of Dayton doctoral thesis in 2001, more than 40 percent said there had been some form of prayer at graduation.
Youth for Christ, an evangelical missionary organization in which broadcast-evangelist Billy Graham worked in the 1940s, began reaching out to high school and middle school students in the 1960s and '70s.
It now has on- and off-campus clubs at 1,200 schools, most of them public.• At the elementary school level, religious instruction sometimes takes place right on campus in after-school programs.In court case after court case, the answer was a resounding "yes."Granted, courts haven't always agreed.Reflecting regional attitudes, a court in Ohio deemed it legal for a student to wear a T-shirt sporting a Christian slogan critical of homosexuality while, in a similar case in California, a court ruled against the student. Russo, who teaches law and theology at the University of Dayton in Ohio, US circuit courts have disagreed over the constitutionality of a student leading prayers at public school graduations.Schools struck religion from curricula, teachers avoided the topic, and children got the message that religion took place off campus.But then, Professor Deckman explains, people began "to say, 'Look, religion is part of who we are and our culture.' "Yes, the rulings restricted public school employees – but what about students?(A 2007 study found that only 10 percent of American teens could name the five major religions.)Many welcome the growing presence of religion."If the public school is to prepare people to participate in a democracy," says Mike Waggoner, editor of Religion & Education, "students are going to require an understanding of Hindus, Muslims, atheists, various forms of Christians, and so forth."Mr.Haynes concurs, noting, "It is on public school campuses that young people learn to live with and address differences." But, he warns, if religion is going to come on campus, it has to enter "through the First Amendment door."This means that public schools and their staffs cannot violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution by fostering religious beliefs. Vitale on June 25, 1962, and Abington School District v." asks Kevin Flannagan, regional director for Campus Life ministry. As Flannagan goes on to tell the story of a boy making an empty Easter egg – "he got it that the meaning of Easter is the empty tomb" – the emotional climate in the room is not one of fervor, but of comfort.Asked why it's worth coming to school early for a Campus Life meeting, a lanky senior wearing an Adidas shirt answers simply: "I like to learn about Jesus."It has been 50 years since the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer.Federal courts in the West and Northeast ruled it illegal; courts in the South upheld it.Supreme Court cases, however, hold sway nationwide, and two in particular fueled the growth of religion in public schools.