Wearing Religious Clothing & Jewelry IS Religious Freedom
As Christian parents, we want our children to proudly live out their faith. We want them to be comfortable praying in a public restaurant, joyfully belt out a worship song in front of their friends, and wear their favorite cross necklace! Unfortunately, there’s often confusion around what children can and can’t do in public school. If children are going to have the confidence to live out their faith everywhere, they need to first understand what their religious rights are during their public school day. (Check out this blog for an overview of how to navigate faith in public school.)
In this blog, we’re going to highlight one specific way your child can proudly (and publicly) express their faith in public school — and that’s wearing religious clothing & jewelry. And yes, it’s legal! Let us explain…
Just like students have the right to wear religious attire required by their religions such as head scarves or yarmulkes, students can also display religious messages on clothing or jewelry. This is protected under freedom of self-expression in the First Amendment. So, whether your child wears a head covering, a cross necklace, or a shirt with a Bible verse, they have the right to do so according to the Constitution of the United States.
According to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the world’s largest legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, school officials can’t pick and choose which messages students are allowed to express and which they aren’t. Students can wear shirts, pants, necklaces, bracelets, and other articles of clothing that display a religious symbol or religious message as long as they meet the school’s dress code.
A 3rd Grader’s Story
During the COVID pandemic, 9-year-old Lydia wore a facemask into her 3rd grade class at public school, but was asked to swap it out for a different one. Why? Because it had the words “Jesus Loves Me” printed on it. Some of her classmates wore masks with a logo of their favorite football team, but it was Lydia’s mask that supposedly crossed the line and was considered “too offensive.” Thanks to ADF’s help, she was able to take a stand for her rights. Read the full ADF story here.
The bottom line is that public schools have one role when it comes to faith: To protect religious freedom of children and not prohibit it. So, tell your child they can proudly, confidently, and legally wear their favorite cross necklace, Bible verse t-shirt, or “Jesus Loves Me” facemask to school. For more information on religious freedoms in public schools, listen to this podcast with our friend Matt Sharp from ADF.
Relevant Bible Verses
“And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.”
– Philemon 1:6
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”
– 1 Peter 3:15-16
“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.’”
– Mark 16:15
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