Church & State

Learn more about the relationship between religion and schools–including the separation of church and state and issues of religious freedom
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry signs bills related to his education plan on June 19, 2024, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, La. Louisiana has become the first state to require that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, the latest move from a GOP-dominated Legislature pushing a conservative agenda under a new governor.
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican, signs bills related to his education plan on June 19, 2024, at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Lafayette, La. One of those new laws requires that the Ten Commandments be displayed in every public school classroom, but the law is similar to one from Kentucky that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in 1980.
Brad Bowie/The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate via AP
Law & Courts Posting Ten Commandments in Schools Was Struck Down in 1980. Could That Change?
In 1980, the justices invalidated a Kentucky law, similar to the new Louisiana measure, requiring classroom displays of the Decalogue.
Mark Walsh, July 11, 2024
13 min read
Image of a bible sitting on top of a school backpack.
Canva
States How States Are Testing the Church-State Divide in Public Schools
A new order to teach the Bible in Oklahoma is the latest action to fuel debate over the presence of religion in schools.
Evie Blad, June 28, 2024
7 min read
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is pictured in the state Capitol building in Oklahoma City, May 19, 2014. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, June 25, 2024, that the approval of the nation's first state-funded Catholic charter school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School, is unconstitutional.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court is pictured in the state Capitol building in Oklahoma City, May 19, 2014. The high court ruled Tuesday, June 25, 2024, that the approval of the nation's first state-funded Catholic charter school, St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School, is unconstitutional.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
Law & Courts Religious Charter School Is Unconstitutional, Oklahoma Supreme Court Rules
The state high court says the planned Catholic virtual charter school violates a state provision against aid to 'sectarian' institutions.
Mark Walsh, June 25, 2024
4 min read
FILE - The Supreme Court is seen under stormy skies in Washington, June 20, 2019. In the coming days, the Supreme Court will confront a perfect storm mostly of its own making, a trio of decisions stemming directly from the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case about a state law that bars certain medical care for transgender minors, with the legal issues holding potential implications for schools.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Law & Courts Supreme Court Case on Transgender Youth Medical Care May Impact Schools
The justices will decide whether a Tennessee law that bars certain treatments for transgender minors violates the equal-protection clause.
Mark Walsh, June 24, 2024
5 min read
Human hand holding a magnifying glass over open holy bible book of Exodus verses for Ten Commandments, top view
Marinela Malcheva/iStock/Getty
States Does a Ten Commandments Display in Classrooms Violate the Constitution?
Louisiana is poised to become the first state to require all schools to post the Ten Commandments in classrooms.
Libby Stanford, June 13, 2024
7 min read
A green apple with a cross shaped stem in between red apples.
Richard Mia for Education Week
School Choice & Charters Opinion What Would Religious Charter Schools Mean for Public Education?
Discriminating and proselytizing on the taxpayer dime will never be acceptable, writes Kevin G. Welner.
Kevin G. Welner, May 29, 2024
5 min read
A pedestrian passes by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Courthouse, June 16, 2021, on Main Street in Richmond, Va.
A person walks near the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit's courthouse in Richmond, Va. A panel of the court denied an injunction seeking to restore religious parents' opportunity to opt their children out of LGBTQ+ "storybooks" in a Maryland district.
Steve Helber/AP
Law & Courts District Can Deny Opt-Outs on LGBTQ+ Books, Court Rules
Religious parents objected to a Maryland district's policy ending opt-outs for elementary school 'storybooks' with LGBTQ+ themes.
Mark Walsh, May 15, 2024
5 min read
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is pictured Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023, during an interview in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond, pictured in February, argued April 2 before the state supreme court against the nation's first religious charter school.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
Law & Courts Oklahoma Supreme Court Weighs 'Test Case' Over the Nation's First Religious Charter School
The state attorney general says the Catholic-based school is not permitted under state law, while supporters cite U.S. Supreme Court cases.
Mark Walsh, April 2, 2024
5 min read
Image of a bible sitting on top of a school backpack.
Canva
States School Chaplain Bills Multiply, Stirring Debate on Faith-Based Counseling
Proponents say school chaplains could help address a mental health crisis. Opponents raise concerns about religious coercion.
Evie Blad, March 15, 2024
6 min read
"In God We Trust" is seen on a wall at South Park Elementary in Rapid City, S.D., on July 23, 2019. South Dakota is one of 17 states that requires or allows the motto to be displayed inside K-12 public schools.
"In God We Trust" is seen on a wall at South Park Elementary in Rapid City, S.D., on July 23, 2019. South Dakota is one of 17 states that require or allow the motto to be displayed inside public schools.
Adam Fondren/Rapid City Journal via AP
States Louisiana’s Public Schools Must Now Display ‘In God We Trust’ in Classrooms
Mandates like Louisiana's are relatively common, and they are also controversial.
Sarah Schwartz, August 3, 2023
5 min read
Illustration of an online teacher working with four students.
Olivia_art/iStock/Getty
Law & Courts Lawsuit Challenges First Religious Charter School in Oklahoma
The suit argues that the Catholic virtual school violates a state constitutional requirement that public schools not be "sectarian."
Mark Walsh, July 31, 2023
4 min read
The Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, April 19, 2023, in Washington.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon, April 19, 2023, in Washington.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Law & Courts Supreme Court Declines to Hear Closely Watched Case on Charter Schools
The justices won't consider whether charter schools are "state actors," which has implications for the push for religious charter schools.
Mark Walsh, June 26, 2023
5 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
School Choice & Charters Opinion Oklahoma Has Approved the Nation's First Religious Charter School. What's That Mean?
A charter authorizer has endorsed a statewide virtual school, which will be run by a Roman Catholic archdiocese and diocese.
Rick Hess, June 7, 2023
9 min read
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond speaks during an interview, Feb. 1, 2023, in Oklahoma City. The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, a state school board in Oklahoma, voted Monday, June 5, to approve what would be the first publicly funded religious school in the nation, despite a warning from the state's attorney general that the decision was unconstitutional. Drummond had previously warned the board that such a decision clearly violated the Oklahoma Constitution.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond speaks during an interview, Feb. 1, 2023, in Oklahoma City. The Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, a state school board in Oklahoma, voted Monday, June 5, to approve what would be the first publicly funded religious charter school in the nation, despite Drummond previously warning the board that such a decision violates the Oklahoma Constitution.
Sue Ogrocki/AP
School Choice & Charters Approval of Nation's 1st Religious Charter School Will Spark Legal Battle
A state board voted 3-2 to approve the St. Isidore Catholic Virtual Academy, which will aim to open in fall 2024, pending a court battle.
Mark Walsh, June 6, 2023
5 min read