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School officials should keep in mind the distinction between government (in this case “school”) speech endorsing religion—which the Establishment Clause prohibits—and private (in this case “student”) speech endorsing religion, which the free speech and free exercise clauses protect.Student religious expression may, however, raise Establishment Clause concerns when such expression takes place before a captive audience in a classroom or at a school-sponsored event.But not until 1943, in the flag-salute case of West Virginia v. The Barnette case began when several students who were Jehovah's Witnesses refused to salute the flag for religious reasons.

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Or may government support religion as long as no one religion is favored over others?

How can school officials determine when they are violating the Establishment Clause?

In the last several decades, the Supreme Court has crafted several tests to determine when state action becomes “establishment” of religion.

No one test is currently favored by a majority of the Court.

In several recent cases, lower courts have deferred to the judgment of educators about when to limit the religious expression of students in a classroom or school setting.

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