Prayer In School Essay, Research Paper
For centuries, the debate has existed whether or not to allow prayer in public schools. Many Americans feel it is not the right of the school to teach religion, but the parent. With all the diversity associated with the United States, public schools cannot select one standard religion to practice, due to the cultural and religious differences in this country. Parents are also concerned that, by allowing prayer in schools, children will no longer be attending an educational institute but a religious one.
Our forefathers founded this nation on the belief of religious equality. The Federal Constitution, in 1789, received the first of ten amendments, set up to protect the rights of it s citizens, today these ten amendments are considered the Bill of Rights. The first amendment states that, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances (Haas, 36). Put into simpler terms no man or woman should be forced into a specific religion, or should be quieted by peers or should not be allowed to gather as a group of citizens. A public school, as stated in the Bill of Rights, cannot force any student to practice one religion. Being forced to pray in a specific religion is against the Constitution.
The United States of America has one of the most diverse populations in the world. Since the diversity is so great, there are many different religions one can follow. Due to this, public schools should not allow prayer in school. By allowing prayer in school, students will be forced to practice a religion, outside of their choice. The phrase, Almighty God is included in one of the prayers, professing a belief that atheists agnostics and other non-believers do not hold (Haas, 36). A student who does not believe in what is being recited to them is having religion forced upon them, plain and simple.
Public schools were built to educate the future leaders of this country. Religion is a part of life and should be taught to all students, not just in school. If parents desire their children to learn about, and practice a specific religion, there are church related schools that they may attend. For the parents who cannot afford private schools, public schools do have some activities where prayer is allowed. Graduation ceremonies, lunch time, after school clubs and organizations all provide the time and the opportunity, during the normal course of a day, for a student to practice his or her own religion. Students who wish to start a religious club, such as Bible Study, have the same rights as all the other clubs within the school. The only criteria the club needs to meet is, remain completely voluntary and student initiated, (Andryszewski, 22) in addition to the moment of silence which students can use as their own personal time to reflect upon whatever religion or thought they choose. So long as prayer is not singled out to one religion and forced upon students, the rights of students guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, have been upheld.
Public schools and parents should sit down and make the children realize that religion and prayer are not things to be ashamed of, but should be conducted in a manner that does not offend other students and does not infringe on their rights. Even the people that believe there should be prayer in school obviously do not completely understand their religion. The author of the Gospel of Matthew stated this clearly: Matthew 6:5-6, And when thou prayest, thou shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corner 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 the fat0her which is in secret (religioustolerance.org/prayer.htm, 1). It would be beneficial to all if the advice set forth by Matthew the Apostle, was followed both in private life and mirrored with public schools.