The U.S Constitution: Regarding Prayer In School Essay, Research Paper
America. One nation under God. The United states has a history of supporting freedom ofreligion. Does this also mean freedom from religion? Does prayer in public schoolsviolate the US Constitution? And is the constitution right or wrong on this conflictingtopic. Furthermore, can it even address such a topic? Church and State, the relationshipbetween the organized church and the government. At root is the tension betweendifferent authorities, one representing claims made in the name of political regimes, theother representing claims by religious institutions. (ENCATA-98) The most importantthing about the discussion of a school prayer amendment is not school prayer as such. People of good sense and religious conviction can disagree about whether there should beprayer in public schools, what kind of prayer, and who should be in charge of it. Thosedecisions should be made by thousands of communities and local school boards across thecountry. This is called democracy. An amendment is needed not to encourage schoolprayer; but to restore to the people their right and responsibility to decide a question thatbears upon the kind of education they want for their children. Parents who are serious about the moral and religious formation of their childrenshould have no misconceptions that adding a prayer at the beginning of the school day willachieve that goal. Public policy should help such parents send their children to schoolsthat meet not just their educational goals, but spiritual ones as well. This means schoolvouchers, education tax credits, flexible charter schools, or other instruments that canenable parents to exercise real choice in education. The appropriate place for prayer ischurch and not in school. Was a statement made by Judge Shirley M Huftedler, formerSecretary Department of Education. But for 170 years students read and prayed daily inschool with no apparent problems. Voluntary school prayer is not a constitutionallyforbidden establishment of religion, unless on believes that government policies that DOTSIKAS-2favor religion constitute an establishment of religion. Regrettably, the Supreme Court hasat times indicated that it believes just that. The court has said that, between religion andirreligious, the state must be neutral. Sometimes it has gone further, suggesting religion,unlike irreligion, poses a threat to society and deserves, at most legal protection as anindividual choice or private eccentricity. That was not the view of those who wrote andratified the constitution, and it is not the view of the overwhelming majority of Americanstoday. The constitution, as in many other guidelines is much to vague. As Amendment I
of the constitution states; Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment ofreligion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or ofthe press, or the right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition theGovernment for a redress of grievances. (WISE A-9) You can interpret this amendmentin multiple ways. But it contradicts itself with Amendment XIV. Which states, nor shallany state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property. (WISE A-11) But doesn t libertyhave to do with your choice to pray or worship wherever or whatever you choose? It isthe court that has promulgated an eccentric view of religion, and it is the Constitution thatprovides the means for preventing the courtroom imposing that view on society. President Clinton expressed support Saturday for religious freedom andexpression in U.S public schools, saying there was no constitutional requirement that theybe religion-free zones. (CNN 5-30-98) There are at present several versions of aproposed amendment, and it is not clear which will be favored by the congressionalmajority. The best wording for the amendment will be the wording that best addresses theneeds of the majority of citizens. In my opinion the constitution overlooked a veryimportant area. Even in the days when it was written, religion played a big role in society.And in this way I have concluded it to be a poorly written document. But even after an DOTSIKAS-3 amendment is passed and ratified by the states, we will still have to debate about therightness, or wrongness, the prudence or mischief, of school prayer can begin in earnest. Those who want that debate now, whether they are pro or con school prayer, are entirelypremature. Having the debate now assumes that this is a question for the federalgovernment to decide. It is not. The debate about the school prayer amendment, then, isnot about school prayer. It is about returning to the people a right and responsibility thatwas arrogantly usurped by an imperial judiciary. It is about the restoration of democraticself-governance. DOTSIKAS-4 WORK CITED CNN Online. May 30,1998. Clinton Calls for Religious Freedom in Public Schools.http://headlines.yahoo.com/granite/keye/feature2/ 19980604.html The Constitution: That Delicate Balance . School Prayer, Produced by: Media and Society Seminars; in association with WNET/Thirteen, New York. Encarta Encyclopedia .(1998). CD-ROM Version. Microsoft Corp. Wise, David .(1997). Democracy Under Pressure. Harcourt Brace Publishers.