Washington, DC—Today, the civil rights organization American Atheists praised the Biden Administration for working to protect the religious freedom of families whose children are in the public school system. The Department of Education released guidance instructing school staff to refrain from praying with students.
“Time and time again, Christian nationalists have shown that they want to transform our public schools into indoctrination centers. The wave of state bills this legislative session injecting religion into schools are an attack on the religious freedom of both students and parents,” said Alison Gill, Vice President for Legal and Policy. “The Biden Administration’s guidance is very much needed. It will help to protect public school students from unwanted religious indoctrination.”
The Biden Administration released this guidance following the 2022 Supreme Court decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton. According to the Supreme Court’s majority decision, a coach gave a short, quiet, personal prayer at the end of a football game while students were otherwise occupied. As such, the Kennedy decision is limited to this narrow situation. Nonetheless, some Christian nationalists and their lawmaker allies have incorrectly claimed that Kennedy allows teachers to indoctrinate students in conservative Christianity. The Department of Education guidance clarifies that such efforts are wrong and remain unconstitutional.
“We’d like to thank the Biden Administration for standing with families of all religions and none,” added Gill. “Public schools are for education, not religious indoctrination.”
“We all see through Christian nationalists’ lies. They constantly scream ‘indoctrination’ whenever LGBTQ students affirm who they are. Yet they are actively seeking to indoctrinate students in their hateful ideology,” said Nick Fish, president of American Atheists. “The Biden Administration’s guidance protects families from Christian nationalists’ hypocritical attempts to foster coercive religious exercise in schools.”