ACLJ Seeks Federal Order To Protect a Teacher’s Right To Pray


Nathan Moelker

April 18

3 min read

Religious Liberty



A radical school district is directly attacking a teacher’s religious liberty. We shared with you about the ACLJ’s lawsuit to preserve the teacher’s right to pray outside the school building before the school day begins. We just filed a major motion for a preliminary injunction to protect our client’s rights while her lawsuit is ongoing.

Our client is a teacher in the Katy Independent School District (ISD) near Houston, Texas. She has prayed at the school flagpole every year on behalf of her students. However, this year the school principal prevented her from doing so. As we shared earlier about our client:

This year she had gathered with two friends and fellow teachers to pray at the school flagpole. The school principal called these teachers into his office. He told them that they could not pray at the pole or in the presence of students because if they did so, students may see and join in. He told them that it was against the law for them to pray publicly where students could see them and then pointed them to a school policy that prohibited teachers from praying in the presence of students.

Specifically, our motion is seeking a court order that says our client cannot be punished for praying in the presence of students, cannot be punished for her private prayer, and particularly cannot be punished for praying at the flagpole before the school day.

The ACLJ wants to ensure that the Katy ISD’s policy is not used against our client to infringe upon her First Amendment rights. The Constitution affords her the freedom to pray without fear of repression. None of her prayerful actions is controversial or debatable. As we explained when filing this lawsuit:

The primary goal of this lawsuit is to ensure that the school amends its policy to reflect what the Constitution actually requires. This school policy strips teachers and school employees of their fundamental right to express their faith freely, and must be struck down. We need your support in our legal battles for your right to pray.

As we explain in our motion, under this school’s policy, our client is still unable to engage in any prayer in the presence of students or to pray publicly, even off the clock, when she is on school grounds. The policy’s prohibition of participation in religious activities substantially curtails her religious activity. Regardless of whether she is off the clock or not acting in her official role, she is restricted by the Katy ISD’s policy regarding her ability to engage in prayer or religious activity.

Public employees have a right to live out their faith, which is a right that cannot be lightly infringed upon. The Katy ISD’s policy impermissibly censors protected speech about an issue – religious activity – that is central to the protections of the First Amendment.

Everyone loses when the government silences the ability of teachers to exercise their right to pray. The ACLJ will keep fighting to preserve our client’s religious liberties. If the government can silence this teacher, then who is next?