How far can Louisiana students go when expressing religion?

Published: Jan. 3, 2018 at 6:43 PM CST
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On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Landry released a guidebook to help Louisiana schools better understand religious freedoms.

While some parents want more prayer in the classroom, others say it does not belong in public schools.

Monroe School Board President Rodney McFarland said even as a pastor, he must obey the law.

"If the law says we can't do it or at certain times we can do it then we got to follow that," he said.

Landry's guide helps school administrators better understand what should and should not be accepted. In the guide, he says prayer is allowed in public schools because it's a part of private speech.

We spoke with some parents to get their opinions. One parent says, "Anytime that you decide to kick God to the side, you're going to have a lot of problems."

But a Webster Parish mom does not agree. Last month, Christy Cole filed suit against the parish school board saying that prayer and other religious activities, "harm schoolchildren by coercing them into religious practices."

Cole's complaint also says that the parish promotes religion through sports games and pep rallies. She said should not be that way.

Landry's Full Statement:

Students, teachers, and administrators now have more guidance when it comes to prayer in schools thanks to Attorney General Jeff Landry and Congressman Mike Johnson. The two have released the Louisiana Student Rights Review, a publication providing guidance on religious expression in public schools.

"Despite court ruling after court ruling affirming our constitutional rights of freedom of speech and expression, there remains confusion on the practical application of those rights in public schools," said General Landry. "So Congressman Johnson and I have put this publication together to help answer some of the most frequently asked questions and misconceptions about the law in this area."

"It is important to remember that our Constitution and laws protect the rights of students to live out their faith on campus," added Congressman Johnson. "Religious liberty is the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights, and the next generation of Americans needs to be encouraged to preserve it."

The Louisiana Student Rights Review addresses student religious expression, religious student organizations, and involvement with those organizations, and is intended to serve as a helpful resource for Louisiana students, parents, teachers, coaches, administrators and school board members.

"We hope this publication helps all citizens better understand religious liberty because too many people have unfortunately been misled into believing schools must be religion-free zones," concluded General Landry. "The truth is our First Amendment rights are not surrendered at the schoolhouse door."

A hard copy of the publication will soon be mailed to all school superintendents throughout Louisiana. Those interested in viewing and/or using the booklet may download it for free today at: