" asks Kevin Flannagan, regional director for Campus Life ministry. As Flannagan goes on to tell the story of a boy making an empty Easter egg – "he got it that the meaning of Easter is the empty tomb" – the emotional climate in the room is not one of fervor, but of comfort.
Asked why it's worth coming to school early for a Campus Life meeting, a lanky senior wearing an Adidas shirt answers simply: "I like to learn about Jesus."It has been 50 years since the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer.
In 1990, the court compelled public high schools to give student-led religious clubs the same access enjoyed by other non-curricular clubs.
Then in 2001 the court ruled that elementary schools that welcomed programs such as Girl Scouts could not bar the after-school Good News Club because it was evangelical Christian. Though the courts have consistently barred school-sponsored prayers, when Nicholas Weldy surveyed Ohio school superintendents for his University of Dayton doctoral thesis in 2001, more than 40 percent said there had been some form of prayer at graduation.
In court case after court case, the answer was a resounding "yes."Granted, courts haven't always agreed.
Reflecting regional attitudes, a court in Ohio deemed it legal for a student to wear a T-shirt sporting a Christian slogan critical of homosexuality while, in a similar case in California, a court ruled against the student. Russo, who teaches law and theology at the University of Dayton in Ohio, US circuit courts have disagreed over the constitutionality of a student leading prayers at public school graduations.Notasulga High School is an Alabama K-12 school west of Auburn with a turbulent history of desegregation.Today, 99 percent of its 405 students are eligible for the free lunch program, and despite a dramatic turnaround in graduation rates and test scores, principal Brelinda Sullen says she fights every day to keep the district from shutting the doors. Sullen whether students would be interested in a program, she jumped at the opportunity: "It's all about character building, and Campus Life helps us build character in our kids."But she knows the law, she says, and "I know how far I can go." She restricts attendance to high school students and makes it strictly voluntary. Service is excellent and forms various forms of communication all help with customer service. This writer provides the highest quality of work possible.(A 2007 study found that only 10 percent of American teens could name the five major religions.)Many welcome the growing presence of religion."If the public school is to prepare people to participate in a democracy," says Mike Waggoner, editor of Religion & Education, "students are going to require an understanding of Hindus, Muslims, atheists, various forms of Christians, and so forth."Mr.Haynes concurs, noting, "It is on public school campuses that young people learn to live with and address differences." But, he warns, if religion is going to come on campus, it has to enter "through the First Amendment door."This means that public schools and their staffs cannot violate the Establishment Clause of the US Constitution by fostering religious beliefs. Vitale on June 25, 1962, and Abington School District v.Federal courts in the West and Northeast ruled it illegal; courts in the South upheld it.Supreme Court cases, however, hold sway nationwide, and two in particular fueled the growth of religion in public schools.By far the most widespread and controversial, Good News Clubs hold Sunday school-like classes in some 3,200 public elementary schools.After-school Good News Clubs have grown from fewer than 17,000 participants in 2001 to more than 156,000 enrolled in 2012.• "See You at the Pole" began in Texas with 10 Christian students praying around their school flagpole in 1990.