Arguments Against Prayer In School

  • Category: Religion
  • Words: 998
  • Grade: 85

        There are many moral arguments about religion in schools. If there were prayer in school who would be the one to determine what religion would be taught. In this day and age our nation is so diverse with so many different cultures and religions. How would anybody decide which one to teach? It would be impossible to pick one and teach that one to everybody, it would always be offending to someone. Another argument is what people often say, "but wouldn't prayer help to restore moral values to our classrooms?" These people are concerned that our society has a lack of values that has caused violent crimes, troubled and disintegrating families, and many young people's seemingly hopelessness and lack of direction.
Many Americans look to religion as the primary source of values and urge for a stronger role for religion in public life. Prayer and other religious observances, they argue, would be an antidote to today's social problems. Some even contend that a steep moral decline in the nation was caused mainly by the removal of organized prayer from the schools. All of these viewpoints are problematic on several counts. One is that it is simplistic to think that the mere recitation of a watered down, nondenominational prayer every morning could have any impact on complicated social problems that are rooted in poverty, inequality and lack of opportunity. The second reason is if the removal of organized prayer from the schools caused the decline in moral values then how is it that Americans are as religious today as ever? It doesn't make sense that there has been less moral values if Americans are as religious as ever.
In a court case Charleston versus Benjamin, the representation for prayer in school stated "Christianity has reference to the principles of right and wrong. It is the foundation of those morals and manners upon which our society is formed. Remove this and they would fall." In a court case People versus Ruggles it was stated that "the morality of the country is deeply engrafted upon Christianity. We are people whose manners and morals have been elevated and inspired by means of the Christian religion." Let it be stressed that the removal of school prayer was not the culprit for all of our nations ills. An instant return of school prayer will not provide an instantaneous cure for our nations problems. The rejection of school prayer simply indicated the introduction of a new national policy, which was religion-hostile.
Theses are some questions that most people ask about religion in schools. Can students ever pray in school? The answer is of course they can. Religious speech like other speech is protected by the first amendment. Public school students have the right to read the bible, recite the rosary, pray before meals and examinations and discuss their religious views with heir fellow students. They can do all of those things so long as they do so outside of the educational process. Students do not have the right to impose their religious expression on a captive audience of other students. For example, by broadcasting religious pronouncements or prayers over the school public address system, nor to compel other students to engage in any religious activity.
What about student-initiated prayer? Until 1992 it was common in some parts of the country for a member of the clergy to offer a prayer during graduation exercises. However, that year the Supreme Court ruled in Lee versus Weisman that including prayer in a school sponsored and supervised graduation ceremony violated the establishment clause. Some school administrators and school boards proceeded to allow graduating classes to vote on whether or not a student volunteer would deliver a prayer at graduation. This led to another round of lawsuits by students and parents opposed to any form of organized prayer at graduations. In the year of 2000, in Santa Fe Independent School District versus Jane Doe, the court ruled that prayers may not be conducted at school-sponsored sports events, even if a majority of the students have voted in favor of the prayers.
Do student religious clubs have the right to use school facilities? Yes, the equal access act passed by congress in 1984. It protects the right of secondary students to hold religious club meetings on public school grounds during noninstructional time. Also they are only allowed to meet if other noncurriculm related student groups, such as political clubs community service clubs, and so on are also allowed to meet on school grounds. School employees may not initiate, direct, or participate in religious club meetings. Although a school staff member may be present to keep order and ensure safety.
To summarize this all up the first amendment of the constitution makes it clear that no government institution, which includes public schools, may promote or hinder religion. This means that public schools may not encourage prayer. If this happens those students who belong to minority religions, who dot believe in God, or who choose to pray privately often feel isolated and left out. This intolerance and abuse are exactly what the first amendment was intended to prevent. Under the first amendment, any student who wants to pray independently is free to do so, either silently or aloud. Groups of students are free to get together in the cafeteria, the schoolyard, or elsewhere to pray. Under the Federal Equal Access Act, bible clubs and other religious groups must be given the same funding and access to school facilities as other groups.
In conclusion I believe that prayer in school is unconstitutional and has no place in public schools. I think that we can keep religion out of schools by maintaining the separation of church and state.
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