had to write an argumenative paper for a college course, so i figured school prayer would be an open and shut case. turns out i was right .
The freedom to pray in school is protected by the first amendment, but having a public school lead, support, or otherwise endorse prayer is wrong on both a constitutional level and a moral one. The conflict is whether or not schools should have prayer during class and at after -school events that are led by, initiated by, or otherwise encouraged by the schools staff. Therefore, in this essay, I will be presenting an overview of the arguments against school- led prayer.
This argument is commonly misunderstood, as many think whenever prayer in school is mentioned they assume itâ€™s about the studentâ€™s personal right to pray and feel that people want to keep their kid from talking about God in class or praying in school. The First amendment guarantees students right to free speech, so long as itâ€™s non-disruptive to the learning environment; if a student wants to pray before class, or talk about his faith in class, heâ€™s completely protected. That right will always be guaranteed, since all freedom- loving Americans believe in the right to free speech. So, whenever laws concerning school prayers are discussed, know that itâ€™s not about the individualâ€™s right to pray in school, itâ€™s about the schools right to lead prayers in and out of the public school environment.
One of the problems with having prayers led in class, or at games is that it discriminates. Contrary to what some would like to believe, not everyoneâ€™s kid is Christian. In todayâ€™s modern world, there are many diverse faiths and beliefs in a modern classroom. To have a prayer in class would be certain to single out someone. Some say we could rotate prayers between faiths, or allow a generic prayer, but this still singles out atheist and agnostic children. While some proposed rotating prayers in class, with each faith being represented, this still poses a problem. Obviously the majority of people are Christian, so they would have more of their prayers said, while minority faiths would be less frequently recognized. It is much simpler to let parents lead their child in a prayer at home, for the student to pray by themselves or with others before classes. It isnâ€™t the schools duty to guide students in religious rituals.
Now, some fundamentalists are probably saying how America was founded as a Christian nation and their kids should be taught Christian values, regardless of other peopleâ€™s preference. Well, this little argument falls under the category of utter lies, to use a nicer word. "The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion, "Treaty of Tripoly, article 11 is a treaty signed by our 4th president, John Adams, clearly stating in plain English, that America was, in no way shape or form intended as a country to promote Christianity. America was founded so that everyone could worship freely or have the choice to not worship or practice anything at all, thus, the words in the first amendment: â€œCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religionâ€. The Public school should not be an environment to promote religious rituals or try to teach a certain brand of God. If you want your child to be part of a certain religion, there are churches you can send them, there is plenty of time at home to pray with them and instill them with your values. The public school is not a forum for prayer; it is a place for learning established scientific facts, not religion.
The last ditch arguments most proponents of government- led prayer is that it safeguards morality in our schools, without God, they say, how will our children know right from wrong? Well, the school is not the primary place that children should learn "right and wrong"; these type of values should be instilled at home. While some say that it should be Christian based learning, schools aren't supposed to endorse certain moral values. It is the parentâ€™s place to teach their children right and wrong, to blame declining morality on the simple fact that kids donâ€™t say a few lines before class is ignorant and makes as much sense as saying opening an umbrella indoors caused your divorce. To say America is suffering because we donâ€™t promote Christianity in schools does not stand up to logic. Japan, where there is no prayer in school, has one of the lowest crime rates of any country, so obviously more prayer is not the answer to the school violence problem. Instead of scape goating lack of prayer for our kidâ€™s behaviors, we should be looking at the parents who are raising the children. Schools are designed to educate children; itâ€™s the parents who are responsible for raising them.
In closing having prayer in school violates not only the constitution, but the moral rights of the children attending school. Since the loudest of school prayer are Christians, maybe the best way to close thus argument would look into the bible to garner its opinion on this. Jesus says in Matthew 6:5-6 KJV " And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.â€ This Verse does not suggest you have to go into a closet to pray the to the Christian god correctly, but it does show that Jesus is against prayer simply to be praying and showing off your religion, which is what having a class prayer would be doing. Forcing non-Christian students to sit through prayer is no different than those people who back in biblical times, prayed loudly and openly in public to simply show off themselves. If there is a place for prayer its in private and with fellow believers.