Prayer In School Essay, Research Paper
Prayer in school
Prayer in school is a controversial issue these days, and it is held dearly in the hearts of many people in America. Prayer has been in public schools from the colonial times until 1962.
Supporters, of prayer in school, view that starting the day off with a prayer will not harm society. Some people see it as a “way of allowing the students to clear their minds.” (Mireless 28) It gives students a peaceful way to start the day, instead of a teacher to quiet an obnoxious group of students. They also think, “prayer is a healthy way to start off the day.” (Mireless 50) It clears the minds of the students and makes them start to think deeply. This also starts the day off with a purposeful mood.
People supporting prayer view that not only does it help make the transition into learning smooth, but it also helps the students to resolve personal issues. Prayer gives students a time every morning where they think about values and faith to help them through life. “Many students have problems and prayer gives them time to think about their issues.” (Mireless 30) Supporters also say that our youth has lost the respect that students had for their country, their peers, and their lives.
Many consider the uprising of crime and the lowering of values in society a result of taking prayer out of school. Since the expulsion of prayer in public school in 1962, studies show that teenage pregnancy went up two hundred percent, teen suicide increased three hundred percent, abortion increased one thousand percent and violent crime went up five hundred percent. These people say that prayer inflict faith and values to those that would have otherwise contributed to the worsening of society. They also say that if prayer flows into their souls it may cause them to become better human beings, better members of society, and better parents for our young.
Supporters state that even early congressional action encouraged and approved in religion in public schools. The Northwest Treaty (1787 and 1789) declared: “Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary for good government and happiness of mankind, school and the means of learning shall forever be encouraged.” Religion, which includes prayer, was deemed to be necessary.
From colonial times until 1962 prayer was practiced in public schools. Then, in the case of Engle vs. Vitale the Supreme Court ruled that state-mandated prayers were unconstitutional. People state that the fact that school prayer was practiced for over two hundred years establishes it as a valid and beneficial practice in our schools. These people also state that the first amendment does not separate god and government; it actually encourages religion. The first clause merely declares that federal government cannot establish one religion for all people. No where does it convey anything about the separation between church and state. The second clause insists that the government should do nothing to discourage religion.
The people opposing public prayer feel that organized prayer will lead to many problems. They declare that school prayer is unconstitutional because of the first amendment in our constitution which states, “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of.” They say that this clearly states a division between church and state.
People state that since education is mandatory, public schools should not impose prayer on students who do not desire it. These people believe that students might be lead by their teacher or classmates in any prayer that the teacher sees fit. Since this country is mostly Christian, the prayers may reflect Christian values. Students of other religions may get left out, or may feel uncomfortable praying with students of different beliefs. Some say, “prayer would be divisive,” http://www.louisville.edu/ tnpete01/church/pray4.htm resulting in religious minorities feeling uncomfortable. They may feel forced to recite a prayer that they do not support. “The only way to make people of differing religions feel comfortable would be to make the prayers cross-cultural. However, any watered down prayer would result in the deeply religious persons finding it meaningless, and it would be an infringement on students who follow no religion.” http://www.daa.org/prayer.html
Some Christians even oppose the amendment saying that the bible warns against school prayer. It says, “and when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy father which is in secret.” (Matthew 6: 5-6) Some people believe that this shows that it is evident that praying in school is in direct contradiction to the bible.
The compromise to this solution is to have a moment of silence at the beginning of school. Students would now have the right to pray, meditate, contemplate or study. This kind of “prayer” helps students focus, alleviates stress, attunes them to their own creativity and empowers them. A book on natural prayer states “We have forgotten that we are all in this together, and we keep separating ourselves, by color, by football teams, by age, and so on and on. We need something to pull us all together. Natural prayer could be that miracle. It includes everyone, even non-believers.” (Cornish 55)