What place does religion have in public schools in America? The U.S. has a long history of battles over prayer in schools. Currently, religious minorities and atheists in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, have become uncomfortable and fearful with the way religion is promoted in classrooms and public gatherings, like sports events. Wertheimer examines what’s happening in Bossier Parish, and how the community could represent a harbinger of what’s to come in schools across the U.S.

In Bossier Parish schools, parents, teachers, and students told me, the court order stalled, but didn’t entirely stop, Christian prayer. Now, with a Supreme Court friendly to school prayer, educators and state lawmakers around the country are testing the limits of the strict separation of church and state written into the Constitution. In a handful of states, including Kentucky, Montana and Texas, lawmakers have recently proposed or passed measures attempting to promote faith in schools. In Kentucky, for example, the legislature passed a law in March that would allow teachers to share their religious beliefs in school. A Kentucky lawmaker who sponsored the House bill told local television station Lex 18 that he hoped the measure would “embolden these Christian teachers” who may have been afraid to express themselves in public schools.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.