The First Amendment prohibits any establishment of religion, a dicta that has been applied in an apparently inconsistent manner by the Supreme Court when called upon to evaluate various forms of verbal and nonverbal religious communication. Court decisions have approved religious prayers and displays in government settings. When such exercises and displays were introduced to the public school academic setting, the Court chose to disallow the practice. An examination of judicial opinions reveals that justices recognize three factors inherent to the academic setting which justify the apparently contradictory decisions. Because of the captive nature of the audience, the presence of peer pressure, and the unpredictability of pedagogical influences, the Supreme Court has significantly restricted religious communication in K-12 public schools.
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Hemmer, J., Jr. (2008). The Influence of Setting on Supreme Court Religious Expression Decisions. Communication and Theater Association of Minnesota Journal, 35, 21-32.