The Trump administration is moving on Thursday to ramp up protections for students who want to pray or worship in public schools, as the president seeks to garner broad support among conservative evangelical Christians for his re-election bid. Nine federal agencies, including the Education Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Justice Department, are proposing changes that would remove what the Trump administration described as “discriminatory regulatory burdens” that were placed on religious organizations that receive federal funding during the Obama-era. Former President Obama signed an executive order in 2010 that required religious organizations with social service programs to refer the people they serve to an alternative provider if they object to the religious nature of the organization.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said that the Education Department plans to require local school districts to set no rules or regulations on praying in public schools. “Our actions today will protect the constitutional rights of students, teachers and faith-based institutions,” DeVos said. “The department’s efforts will level the playing field between religious and nonreligious organizations competing for federal grants, as well as protect First Amendment freedoms on campus and the religious liberty of faith-based institutions.”