Can Students Pray in Public Schools?
“Something’s wrong when kids can get birth control in school but can’t say a prayer in school,” said George H. W. Bush.
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In making this comment, Former President Bush urged Americans to think about how little the school boards care about prayer in school, showing priorities are sadly backward. Mark Walsh, an author that specializes in prayer rights, insists that prayer should be allowed in school because it is an important part of people’s rights and culture.
Unfortunately, many Americans in today’s world believe prayer has a bad effect on everyday life. Many controversial writers have stated that prayer not only affects school hours but also after-school activities. Many students believe that student-led prayer should be allowed in public schools as they can help prevent school shootings, teen and adolescence sexual activities, and dropouts.
Prayer in school has been defined as many different things. People believe that prayer in school means that you stop class to pray. However, prayer in school means to have a prayer when we have the pledge or even at lunch before we eat. This said prayer could either be student-led or a teacher could simply just say the prayer. It also can be as simple as saying the pledge or they can put their heart and soul into it. Prayer can mean something different to each person but it is better to give the students the option to find out what prayer means to them. If they are not allowed to express themselves, in prayer or in other ways, they may never have the opportunity to be saved and eventually go to heaven.
In early American church schools, private schools, and public schools, the Bible has used as a textbook as well as a devotional guide. The 17th-century founders of American society discerned in Scripture the patterns by which God directed the whole of human destiny. .Hence, the methods and aims of education were finally to be governed by the biblical revelation, and in the most fundamental way, God was the one true teacher.
This view of education was particularly evident among the Puritans who settled New England in the decades following 1630. Barr says the Bible was a powerful force in education in the 17th and 18th centuries and gradually declined in the 19th and 20th centuries. “Opening exercises began with the Lord’s Prayer, Bible readings, and roll call. Even by the mid-20th century, Pennsylvania public elementary and secondary schools began with the Lord’s Prayer, Bible reading, roll call, and the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
Prayer, in high school sports, has raised concerns from those wishing to ban all forms of religion in our schools. They do not have a pre-game prayer anymore as they use to in the old days. In December 2015, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) denied requests from school officials at Cambridge Christian School and its opponent, University Christian School, to use the public-address system in Orlando’s Citrus Bowl Stadium to conduct a public prayer before the Florida Class 2A state championship football game.
Although pre-game prayers at private school sports events have consistently been held by courts not to violate the Establishment Clause because private schools are not “state actors” (governmental entities), the FHSAA argued that its state championship game was a public event sponsored by a state actor (the FHSAA) being held up in a public facility (Citrus Bowl Stadium) owned by a governmental unit (the city of Orlando) and that a pre-game prayer would, therefore, constitute government sponsorship and promotion of a religious message in violation of the First Amendment.
In January 2016, the Liberty Institute, a law firm specializing in religious freedom issues, sent a letter on behalf of Cambridge Christian School to the FHSAA demanding a policy change for future state playoff contests and threatening a federal lawsuit asserting violations of Cambridge Christian School’s rights under the Free Speech Clause and Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment. As of the press date for this article, no suit had yet been filed.
The players and coaches have started to understand why people want to reintroduce prayer into the game. They feel as though they do not have the right to pray because no one else is leading it. Prayer, right now, is something people can choose not to be involved with. What about the people who want to pray but do not have the choice? Would it not be better to give people the option to opt-out then validate someone’s rights? Prayer is a “conversation” between the person and God. Prayer is said when the person is afraid, scared and lonely. Who knows one “conversation” could save a life and just maybe make somebody’s day a little bit brighter.
The top offender for the debate on prayer in school is in the classroom. The U.S Supreme Court has not clearly issued student-lead prayers at schools but is working towards this great improvement. Congress tried to extend greater protection of student prayer by amending the Constitution. The proposals were shelved because the Republican’s had different ideas on what the ruling should include. The Court’s decisions enforcing a separation between public education and religious observation under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment provide a useful context within which to test the prevailing models’ predictions.
The Court will be ineffectual when faced with public and governmental opposition. A historical examination of the impact of the Court’s rulings in the area of devotional practice in schools reveals that both the Dynamic and Constrained Court models underestimate the degree to which the Court can effectively produce a change in the most unfavorable circumstances. Classroom prayers have been off-limits in court since the U.S Supreme Court’s school prayer rulings of 1962 and 1963.
The interesting fact about these cases is that one of the senators did not fully agree with the statement. The U.S. Supreme Court has replaced freedom of religion,” guaranteed by the Constitution, for freedom from religion. To ban school prayer diminishes the religious freedom of students who would like to pray and forces them according to the dictates of a non-religious minority. At the end of all these court cases only three states, in the United States, changed their laws. These three were Alabama, North Dakota, and Montana. Even though many schools do not like to think about this subject they are making great strides to finally put it in schools as an option.
As research came upon this topic the findings were very interesting to the side of the argument that the thesis above proves. Religious rights are important to students all across the globe, even here in Indiana. According to the report, the students at West Monroe High School were given two options: “Yes, I would like a student-led prayer at graduation” and “No, I do not want a prayer at graduation.” Many students, at the local high school in Louisiana, feel like they have the right to pray.
The students felt as though their rights were being violated. Later the same school was issued with a lawsuit about religious rights being violated. Now I agree that not everyone wants to be involved in religion but for those of us that do, we pay more attention to the issue if people ask us what we want. Students feel as though they are being neglected and forgotten if you do not ask for our opinions. Forty- nine percent of teens say they would be likely to attend prayer meetings before or after school. I find asking the students if they want prayer in their schools because they are the ones being affected.
Students should be allowed to pray in school – and they are! Although students’ religious liberties must be conserved, there are limitations on the mode and time of prayers. Students can pray peacefully and noiselessly at any instance, especially in school performances, like choir or dance or everyday schooling, and subject to the fact that it is done in relevant surroundings. Students can try to influence, their peers concerning spiritual issues similar to what they do with consideration to opinionated subjects.
However, if they desire to do extra things, then they should not do it in an approach that interrupts other scholars or classes since the major intention of schools is to teach. This is why there are small and practical limitations on the approach in which learners can go about using their spiritual freedom. Students pray individually, in groups, silently as well as loudly.
We can help prevent pre-teen pregnancy but yet we try to prevent people from praying in our schools. For this and many other reasons, schools should allow prayer. Prayer in schools could make any needed changes to our school system and the students involved in it. Not having a prayer in schools is a big reason why there is violence in schools. Schools shooting, dropouts, and teen and adolescents sexual activities have been affecting students all across the globe. If the students were aware of the Laws of God and what he expects of his children, our public schools would be a better place for our children to learn.