Windebank v. Academy School District #20
Description: Academy School District #20 policies and procedures defined “open time” in numerous places as consisting of lunchtime and the seminar period, an open period of the day equivalent to recess when students were free to spend time together, text on their phones, or discuss any other topic. Nonetheless, school officials claimed the “separation of church and state” required a ban on prayer and religious discussion during that period and that students could only engage in religious speech before or after school.
ADF cases the focus of White House event reaffirming First Amendment freedoms
“Religious freedom is the headwater of all freedoms, and we’re grateful that President Trump and his administration have taken numerous opportunities to acknowledge and protect it for all people and organizations of faith. Unfortunately, some states and local government officials continue to treat religious organizations as second-class citizens, and discriminate against them in government programs. Likewise, students across our country still find their First Amendment freedoms under attack the moment they set foot on their public school campus, even denied the freedom to pray together during free times, as occurred with ADF client Chase Windebank, who is scheduled to participate in the president’s event today. We affirm the administration’s proposed rules designed to ensure that the government doesn’t treat religious individuals and organizations as second-class to secular institutions, including new rules that direct federal agencies to act consistently with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in ADF’s Trinity Lutheran case. The president’s directive requiring all public schools to respect their students’ religious liberty, is also a welcome step to remedy these attacks on people of faith. ADF has and will continue to advocate for every student and every American’s freedom to exercise his or her constitutional freedoms without fear of censorship or discrimination.”
The following quote may be attributed to ADF Center for Academic Freedom client Chase Windebank, who is scheduled to participate in the White House event celebrating National Religious Freedom Day:
“In high school, I led a small group of students in a prayer meeting during a free period. We prayed for each other, our school, and our nation and, by my senior year, we built a community of 90 students. But school administrators banned us from praying together during the school day. I remember wishing I didn’t have to file a lawsuit, but after many unsuccessful meetings with the administrators, I knew it’d be the only way to solidify future students’ rights to pray. With the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, we won back our right to pray. Now, four and a half years later, I want to spend my life encouraging the next generation to live out their faith in big and small ways. I am thankful that the president and his administration value religious liberty and are willing to defend it for students across the United States. Because, for countless students like myself, their faith is a core part of who they are, and they should be free to live it out at school.”
- Pronunciation guide: Windebank (WIN’-duh-bank)
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Matt Sharp serves as senior counsel and state government relations national director with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he focuses on state and local legislative matters. Since joining ADF in 2010, Sharp has authored federal and state legislation, regularly provides testimony and legal analysis on how proposed legislation will impact constitutional freedoms, and advises governors, legislators, and state and national policy organizations on the importance of laws and policies that protect First Amendment rights. He has testified before the United States Congress on the importance of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Sharp has also worked on important cases advancing religious freedom and free speech. He has won cases upholding the rights of students to form religious clubs, invite classmates to church, and even perform a religious song at a school talent show. He authored an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of nearly 9,000 students, parents, and community members asking the Court to uphold students’ right to privacy against government intrusion. Sharp earned his J.D. in 2006 from the Vanderbilt University School of Law. A member of the bar in Georgia and Tennessee, he is also admitted to practice in several federal courts.