Lynchburg, VA – Today millions of students are celebrating the twentieth annual “See You at the Pole” (“SYATP”) event, where students gather to pray for their school, their community and America. This year the largest gathering of students for this annual event will be at Liberty University, the world’s largest and fastest-growing evangelical university, with 11,940 students on campus and an anticipated 47,000 students off campus during the 2009-2010 academic year.
These students are gathering at a time of increasing hostility in our courts towards prayer. A case in point involves Santa Rosa County in Florida, where Liberty Counsel successfully defended two honorable school employees on National Constitution Day against a charge of criminal contempt for praying over a meal. As a student-initiated movement, this prayer movement has the protection of the First Amendment.
Church congregations nationwide showed their support last Sunday for “See You at the Pole” by sponsoring a special “Campus Challenge Sunday” to encourage and support their student members for “See You at the Pole.” Participants prayed for students and educators in their congregations.
The “See You at the Pole” event began near Ft. Worth in the town of Burleson, Texas, in 1990. SYATP invites students in public and private schools to gather together at their school’s flagpole to pray for their leaders, schools, and families, asking God to bring moral and spiritual awakening to their campuses and to America.
Mathew Staver, Founder of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented on the students’ right to pray: “Revival preceded the American Revolution. Political freedom is founded upon religious freedom. There is a growing spiritual renewal occurring in America. America was birthed in prayer. America will be sustained in prayer.”
FL – Wednesday, September 27, is the official day for the 17th
annual “See You At The Pole”
prayer rallies. The rallies are student-initiated, student-led
events where students gather before school to pray for their classmates,
teachers, schools, families, communities, states and nations.
Each year approximately three million students from all fifty
states and more than twenty countries gathered around school flagpoles
to pray. Students in the United States have often met with resistance
from school officials who are not educated about constitutional
rights. Liberty Counsel has defended the right of students to
participate in SYATP events in the past and is available to assist
students who encounter problems with school officials regarding
week is also the ninth annual “Scriptures in Schools Week” (SIS),
a week when students bring their Bibles to share and to encourage
Bible reading during free time at school throughout the year.
officials across the country should be aware that students have
a constitutional right to participate in SYATP and SIS on public
school campuses and may not discourage these events. The United
States Department of Education’s “Guidelines on Religious Expression
in Public Schools” recognize that students have the right to participate
in SYATP as a protected act of religious expression.
is beyond question that public school students have a First Amendment
right to participate in ‘See You At The Pole’. The Supreme Court
has unequivocally stated that students have a First Amendment
right to pray before, during or after the school day. School officials have an affirmative duty to educate
themselves regarding the First Amendment rights of students, rather
than acting out of bigotry, religious bias or ignorance of the
law. If students encounter resistance from school officials about
‘See You At The Pole’, they should contact Liberty Counsel immediately.
Staver is the Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.