In the 1800's and early 1900's students used to be able to do any religious practices in school as long as it was reasonable and within school rules. Why are students not allowed to practice religious activities? The prayer in school controversy has been going on for about forty-five years now. There are many subjects that have to do with this controversy such as Separation of Church and State, and the violation of the first Amendment. For years now there has been a heated debate about whether or not prayer should be allowed in school. Every time the argument is spoken with, it ends up nowhere, and is a topic that campaigning politicians tend to stay away from. In the beginning, the argument was whether or not the school day should be started with a prayer over the PA system of school. This didn't last long, as anyone can see that there is so much diversity between the religious beliefs of high school kids today. The argument then moved on to replace "prayer" with moment of silence."
The removal of prayer from the public school system has raised a lot of controversy in the past thirty or so years, especially in the last decade. This issue has not just caused an argument by Christians and Atheists; it has sparked attention throughout all religious groups in the United States. There are many more arguments against school prayer than there are for it. However, even though the anti-prayer group has a much more arguments, the pro-prayer group has better arguments in general. Even though Pro-prayer has a stronger claim but it has yet to convince the Supreme Court justices. Recommending school prayer can violate first amendment rights, the nation's history, and supporting a new amendment.
Our nation became increasingly profane and less broad-minded of moral standards and values. Many people think that it is time for a change. On the other hand, people still have several arguments focusing on why prayer in schools is a bad idea. They state that public schools exist to educate, not to practice religious activities. Children in public schools are a restricted audience. Making prayer an official part of the school day is not the right thing to do, because it takes up to much time and it also cuts into class time. Religion is private, and schools are public, so the only appropriate situation is that these two are not together. To introduce religion in our public schools builds walls between children who may not known of religious differences before.
Those in favor of prayer in school pose several arguments. They say it will increase sensitivity in schools, as children learn of different religions and how they practice. Many feel it will bring to surface the personal questions kids have about god and religion and allow them to search for their own belief system. The most common however, is the argument that bringing prayer back to schools will help reverse the moral reduction of this country. As the Reverend Jeffery L. Os-good, pastor of the first southern Baptist Church in Dover wrote, "Back in 1962, when prayer was removed by the Supreme Court, something happened to America's schools.
This country was built by its Founding Fathers. Some school districts in some states are trying to defend these values while the Supreme Court is intruding on people's rights as citizens issued to them by the First Amendment. Some courts claim that the decisions build up the wall between church and state constructed by the First Amendment. The First Amendment also includes rights to freedom of religion and speech. They have taken these freedoms from high schools students as if they are not really citizens. Justice John Paul Stevens made a statement for the majority vote in the case. He said: "We recognize the importance that public worship plays in many communities, as well as the sincere desire to include public prayer as a part of various occasions so as to mark those occasions' significance.
Our nation history facts are good points to make in favor of prayer in schools. Religion and prayer were a big part of the lives of our country's ancestors. "The Founding Fathers believed agreeably that there was a God and that the original rights of man were rooting in Him is clearly evidenced in their writings. "In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread sovereign Lord, King James, by the grace of God..." Another aspect that proves that the government was built on God and Christianity is shown through the nation's early laws: "In the 17th century, most American colonies supported official religions with public revenues, and laws required residents to attend church services" ("School Prayer Decision"). Prayer in school is not allowed and yet in almost every aspect of government Christianity is exercised in the belief of a person.
The government runs the school systems, so why should schools not have the same privileges that they have? The majority of people living in this country are living with some type of faith in a higher being as proved by a survey conducted last year by the Bureau of the Census, US Department of Commerce, and Statistical Abstract of the United States. The survey's outcome totaled 64% of the American people having church membership, 33% having no membership but having religious background, and only 3% professed no religion at all. (Clemens).
Another way to propose school prayer would be to support a new amendment. The school prayer discussion is not so much about prayer itself but more about what kind of prayer should be allowed and who should be in charge of it. The American people in communities and local school boards across the country should make these decisions. An amendment is not required or to force school prayer but to restore the right and responsibility to the people or parents who decide what kind of education they want for their children. Parents should have real choices in education. The schools across this nation should share their education goals. Richard Brookhiser said it best in his essay, "Let Us Pray," when he wrote: "Will it do little hellions any good to be exposed to such sentiments in homeroom? Congress begins each day with a prayer and look how it behaves, but a society should know where the things it holds dear come from, and why there are limits to its own actions. School is one place to learn such things, and one way of learning is to repeat the lesson daily." (Brookhiser)
The Constitution neither rules nor prohibits prayer in schools. The Constitution says nothing about prayer in the schools; accordingly, it does not say it is unconstitutional. Those who claim that the American people are not able to decide in a civil and respectful manner, reveal contempt for our democratic process.
Along with the constitution stating nothing for or against school prayer, there is also another reason for an amendment. American public life doesn't have religion and religiously grounded values. Those who supported the school prayer decisions of the 1960's sent a message that America is a profane society and that a secular society is one in which religion must be separated from any designated public. This message combined with the suggestion that public is another word for governmental and the conclusion is "inescapable that religion must retreat wherever government advances-and government advances almost everywhere" (Constitutional Amendment). The purpose of a new amendment is to reverse the pattern of collision between the government and religion.
Another controversial issue is also supportive of the basis for the amendment. The nonsense of church-state enactment over the last three decades is tied up with the school prayer decisions. Many of the justices of the Supreme Court have at one time or another publicly admitted that Congress has contradicted itself when it comes to the religion part of the First Amendment. Prayer in school would not be such a problem if the Supreme Court believed that voluntary prayer is not constitutionally forbidden. However, because the courts have said that it is an "establishment" of religion, the states must remain neutral. The Courts have even gone further to say that religion poses a threat to society and "deserves at most, legal protection as an individual choice or a private eccentricity" (Constitutional Amendment). "An amendment is not going to change what people believe nor will it change the way they live their lives. However, it will restore the rights to those who are unable to practice their religious freedoms freely." (The Debate)
This issue of prayer in the public school system has caused controversy not only among the American people but also in the court system. The removal of prayer from the schools created conflict over the positive and negative effects of school prayer. There were many court cases that argued these sides.
In conclusion, both arguments make many good points. Personally, I feel that prayer in schools should not be a part of the school days schedule, however, should be allowed upon individual request, if reasonable. By this I don't mean that children be allowed to skip entire school days because of prayer, however, a few minutes is definitely reasonable. I think it is getting out of control that some people want to remove "In God we Trust" off the 1 dollar bill. I also believe that they should not take away "Under God" out of the pledge of Allegiance. Religion should for the most part be kept out of the studies of younger school children, I don't think that they need the complexity of debating their life style while struggling through Kindergarten Prayer is definitely a personal issue, but it's up to the individual to decide how private he or she wants it to be. As long as it doesn't go upon the rights of others, we all have to become more respectful and accepting of people practicing their beliefs in public. Overall School Prayer should not be forced, and should be up to the individual to decide.