President Donald Trump is reminding public schools that students and teachers can’t be discriminated against for practicing their First Amendment religious rights, NPR is reporting.
The reminder will come in the form of a letter from the Department of Education to education secretaries and officials in all 50 states saying they risk losing federal funds if they violate students’ rights to religious expression.
Word of the letter came as Trump planned to meet with a group of students from Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths in the White House to mark National Religious Freedom Day on Thursday. The students have been the target of religious discrimination at their schools.
Joe Grogan, White House director of the Domestic Policy Council, said provisions protecting school prayer have been eroded.
"We're trying across the board to invite religious institutions and people of faith back into the public square and say 'look, your views are just as valid as anybody else's,'" Grogan said. "'And, by the way, they're protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.'
NPR noted the Supreme Court banned school sponsored prayer in 1962, but students are permitted to pray on school grounds as long as they do it privately.
Meanwhile, the administration also plans to streamline a federal complaining process for students to use if they believe they’ve been discriminated against.
USA Today noted that Trump’s planned remarks on religious freedom will come after the faith-focused magazine, Christianity Today, posted an editorial calling for him to be removed from office.
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