Prayer in public schools gets presidential nod

In observance of National Religious Freedom Day, President Donald Trump hosted a gathering Jan. 16 of students from different religions to affirm the right of students to pray in school. Students at the event held in the Oval Office included those of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

In a statement released by the White House detailing the facts of the briefing, the president said, “Our founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious conviction.”

Trump announced three primary areas of focus for his administration: protecting prayer in public schools, promoting equal treatment, and championing religious freedom.

“President Trump is updating federal guidance regarding protected prayer and religious expression in public schools, which has not been issued since 2003,” the fact sheet read. “The update will help safeguard students’ rights by giving education providers and students the most current information concerning prayer in public schools.”

Ronnie Floyd, president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, noted that emphasis on religious freedom is imperative.

“For years I have sensed a growing restraint being placed upon students, faculty and administration about practicing prayer in public schools,” Floyd said. “I am convinced the greatest need in our schools is to release students, faculty and administration to live out their faith publicly, including the practice of prayer. Therefore, I am thankful for any clarity about First Amendment rights that releases all persons to practice their faith in our schools and in every public setting.”