Religion In School Essay, Research Paper
Religion in School
No aspect of the church-state controversy arouses more emotion and discussion than the subject of prayer in the public schools. After all, public schools are supported with taxpayer money. What believer would want their taxes to support an institution that prohibits his children from praying? What nonbeliever would want their taxes to support an institution that requires her children to participate in prayer? Yet some believers think they know better than the Founding Fathers and want to tamper with the Bill of Rights. They want to amend the U.S. Constitution so that the Government would legally sponsor and take over the activity of prayer. This leads us to the main question to this problem, should the government be allowed to lead school prayer?
According to an article written by Ami Neiberger, even if students volunteer to lead in prayer, some school administrator or government official will have to review, edit, and censor their prayers (1). And which prayers will be deemed acceptable? The prayers of Christians, Jews, Muslims, and so on? Neiberger uses logos in her first paragraph to demonstrate that it is absolutely illogical to allow the government to lead school prayer simply because there are too many forms of religion and prayer to make everyone happy.
With all these intense religious/nonreligious individuals walking around, it s no wonder that people have been killed over school prayer. Prayer in schools in the last few centuries have been so extreme that they have provoked civil strife in some communities. A fine example of this can be found around Philadelphia. In 1843, 13 people were killed after Catholics asked for their children to be excused from mandatory religious practices in school (Neiberger 1). Here is a fine example of how Neiberger cleverly used pathos in her article to persuade us by getting at our emotions with the example of the people dying after they refused to practice a religion that differed from there own. This use of pathos is very interesting because I don t know of anybody that wants to die at school over their personal religious beliefs.
In her article, Nieberger seems to strike the very nerve of the essence of ethos, common values and beliefs. She claims that the prayers that would result from government led religion in schools would be so watered down that they will either be devoid of meaning or they will offend anyone who doesn t agree with the particular religious view as the person leading the prayer (1). This is a clear example of how government led prayer would take away individual rights, including the most important one of all, freedom.
Despite the fact that many Americans that are opposed to government led prayer, there are, however, many people that feel that prayer in schools would be very positive. In an article written by Andrew Sandlin, a writer for The Christian Statesman, he claims that we believe every sphere of life, public and private, should recognize the crown rights of king Jesus and the authority of his law-word, (1-2). Meaning that he as well as many others believes that there should be religion in everything, even in public schools. This is a way of using ethos once again, by saying that if you have the same values, or common beliefs as us you should agree with us. This in turn will make those who believe in Christianity as their religion of choice follow Sandlin s perspective in supporting prayer in school simply because other Christians do it. This statement that Sandlin makes could also be used as a technique to trigger some emotion, which would be a use of pathos, because the truly faithful Christian doesn t want to feel restricted as to where he can practice his beliefs.
Another strong argument for keeping prayer in school is the fact that the United States was established as a Christian nation with religion playing a central role in guiding the nation s destiny. Supporters of religion in school also claim that the Founding Fathers never intended a separation of church and state, and even argue that we use religion in our government. This can be seen regularly when Congress prays at the opening and closing of each session, or when someone is sworn in by placing their hand on the bible. We even have In God we trust stamped on our money. If religion is accepted in these government institutions it should not be stopped at the schoolhouse door (Crane 2). This is an argument for government led prayer that uses logos, which relates to reason and common judgment, to persuade the reader that we should allow prayer in school simply because it has been done before and it can be seen in our history.
The public opinion has remained strongly opposed to the court rulings that banned classroom prayer and Bible readings. National polls repeatedly indicate that the majority of Americans favor organized prayer in public schools. People in favor of school prayer argue that to forbid the majority the right to pray because the minority objects is undemocratic (Crane 2). This paragraph demonstrates the use of pathos by showing how the rejection of school prayer is a rejection of common beliefs and values towards many Americans.
Of these two different standing points I m going to have to lead towards the side of keeping religion out of public schools. This is simply because school should be a place to learn, not a place to worship. If you want your children to go to school to worship all day then you should send them to private school. Otherwise just send your children to school to learn and go to church to worship god and to prey.
Since the beginning of time man has always been in some kind of conflict with himself and religion. One of the main problems, which we have seen today, is the problem of religion in school. Should it be allowed, should it be abolished, or should it just be left up to the individual? These are the questions that many Americans ask themselves when they think of the connection between the church and state. In arguments against school prayer, people don t think it should be allowed due to the censorship that it would bring. That the prayers the government would be leading would be closed minded and even offending to some people. In arguments for school prayer we seem to come up with few, weak, standing points. The strongest one seems to be that we should have school prayer simply because our ancestors had it.