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Connecticut Prayer in Public Schools Laws

It seems like prayer in public schools is the source of constant debate, both nationwide and in the Nutmeg State, with a variety of opinions on the matter. Even the courts have had a hard time sorting out the line between the free exercise of religion and state-sponsored religion when it comes to the public schools. So what do state laws have to say on the matter? Here is a basic overview of prayer in public school laws in Connecticut.

Prayer in Public Schools

Trying to determine whether religious prayer is permitted in public schools has been the subject of both heated debate and contested court cases for quite some time. And the Constitution is somewhat split on the matter. On one hand, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government (including state-funded schools) from establishing or sponsoring a specific religion.

On the other hand, the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech Clause prohibits the government (and its schools) from interfering with the free exercise of religion. States have varying prayer in public schools laws attempting to balance this issue, with several of these statutes having faced challenges in court. The ones that have been found constitutional are like Connecticut’s and allow for a brief period of silent prayer or meditation.

Prayer in Public Schools Laws in Connecticut

Connecticut’s prayer in public schools statutes are detailed in the chart below.

Applicable Code Section

General Statutes of Connecticut Title 10-16a: Silent Meditation

What is Allowed?

Silent meditation

Schools, and parents with children attending them, continue to debate about the kinds of religious activities allowed in public schools. Connecticut has attempted to balance the issues raised above by proscribing some time in the school day during which students may pray or contemplate silently, without forcing students to pray or leading them in specific prayers. Under Connecticut law and Supreme Court rulings, students are allowed to pray in public schools, so long as the prayers are not school-sponsored and they do not interfere with other students’ schoolwork.

Connecticut Prayer in Public Schools Laws: Related Resources

State education laws, especially those dealing with religion, can be especially tricky. You can contact a Connecticut education attorney if you would like legal assistance regarding a school prayer issue. You can also visit FindLaw's section on Religion at School for more resources and information.

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