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This January, commemorating National Religious Freedom Day, President Trump gathered with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, televangelist Paula White and students who said they have faced discrimination based on religion. According to the Washington Post, Trump said his administration was engaged in a “cultural war” to defend school prayer from “the far left."
“In public schools around the country, authorities are stopping students and teachers from praying, sharing their faith or following their religious beliefs. It is totally unacceptable,” Trump said. “Tragically, there is a growing totalitarian impulse on the far left that seeks to punish, restrict and even prohibit religious expression.”
President Trump has signed an executive order that allows students to pray in public schools but it looks like this order retread old ground and may have little impact. In the United States students are already allowed to meet and pray on school grounds, but the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools in a decision from 1962. This decision stated that school-sponsored prayer in public schools is not allowed and teachers, administrators and coaches are not permitted to lead school prayers or devotional readings of the Bible. Even before the Trump administration's new executive order, US Courts have made it clear that students have the right to pray in school — as long as the prayers are not led by teachers, coaches or principals and do not disrupt learning.
According to The Washington Post, the new guidance, which largely updates guidelines issued by the Bush administration in 2003, will require school districts to certify they do not have regulations that conflict with students’ right to pray at school and instructs states to notify the Education Department if a complaint arises against a school district over prayer. The guidance also clarifies that teachers, administrators and coaches are not permitted to lead school prayers or devotional readings of the Bible, “nor may school officials use their authority to attempt to persuade or compel students to participate in prayer or other religious activities.”
Even though this new executive order may have little impact as the right to pray in school was not denied before, president's decision has been met with delight among those who believe that there is an ongoing war on faith in United States. President Trump's executive order on religious liberty, which provides new guidance regarding prayer in public schools, "the beginning of the end of the war on faith," Pastor Robert Jeffress said as Fox News reports. "It's a right that's been under assault from groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and liberal courts as well," Jeffress, who is senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, said.