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In accordance with the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution under the Establishment Clause, the United States government cannot establish a national religion. Thereby, American public schools/systems may not initiate prayer or religious activities. This eliminates the teachers'/staff's ability to lead any activity that is affiliated with a religion. However, according to the second clause within the first amendment regarding religion, known as the Free Exercise Clause, the U.S. government must allow all religions to practice equally and without government interference as long they are not somehow restricting another's freedoms. Therefore, public schools may allow religious groups as long as they are student initiated and lead and equal opportunities are available for all religions. On the flip side, parochial schools, which are affiliated with a particular religion, may receive governmental assistance financially, despite government's restrictions from becoming entangled with a particular religion. By a test known as the "Lemon Test," the intent of parochial schools to use certain funds provided by the government may be investigated before funds are allocated. Funds by the federal or state government may be directed to parochial institutions if they are not for religious activities or cause government entanglement or insight government support of a particular religion.
Contributed by Olivia Haas