Followers

Friday, December 4, 2009

Prayer in Public Schools

Would our Founding Fathers have agreed to corporate prayer in publically funded schools? What was their intention concerning the separation of Church and State?

General George Washington provided services of worship for the troops at Valley Forge. These were Christian services. Today, the military provides services of worship for all servicemen and women for each religion represented. The government has no problem with this.

The schools DO have a problem with this approach because they would have to provide chaplains for all the religious groups represented in the schools and this would rather change the nature of American public education! Not to mention the fact that some parents would be upset about the presence of Muslim or Buddhist chaplains on the school grounds. A principal’s nightmare!

America today is nothing like the America of the Founding Fathers. The intentions of the Founding Fathers in separating church and state were conditioned by conflicts within the Churches of their day. They were wise to try to keep governance free from the politics of religion. Too bad many politicians are trying to mix them up to curry public favor.

Prayer in school is largely a political issue, not one of freedom of speech. An individual may pray at any time while in school, especially if the pray is silent (which most prayers are). Rarely would this be a problem. It would be a problem, however, if the student did so prove a point or to defy the law. It is a problem that politicians use this and the Ten Commandments in public places to try to buy votes from their conservative constituents.

What do you think?

16 comments:

SirLazenby said...

Firstly, there never was a “separation of church and state”; hence the presence of a Bible during inaugurations and court oaths of honesty. It is one of the many fictions those who would rule you have convinced the majority of people to believe exists (perhaps there will be some emails leaked on the subject some day). It is the first amendment, of the only ten that “constitutionally” are valid (the bill of rights), that is commonly referred to when attempting to justify “separation of church and state”. Ironically, as with all such manipulative ploys, the first amendment was, in fact, placed there to prevent what those who preach “separation of church and state” would have the state do; “prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. State religion played an important role in exercising oppression on the citizenry of Europe. The first amendment was to serve as a safeguard against such oppression (“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”) by making it unconstitutional to have a state religion; Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, etc… And no; non-Christian religions were not what they were referring too; nor did it cross their minds that non-Christian religions would ever be an issue in America. I’m a Libertarian so I’m not in anyway saying non-Christian Americans shouldn’t be covered under the first amendment; I’m simply pointing out the truth.
What the founding fathers would have said about incorporating prayer in publicly funded schools, would probably go something like this, “Publicly funded what?” Following which, they would have laid out a litany of inherent dangers (like an entire generation being brainwashed into believing one political position) of implementing such a practice which, even if the majority of us are unaware of it, has already happened right in front of our eyes.
I, myself, am not religious; but I would fight to the death to preserve the rights of those who are.

debl said...

As Sir Lazenby stated there is not a separation of church and state. America's government was formatted on England's system and England's system is steeped in religion. Since America was founded by people seeking freedom from religious oppression; I do not think our Founding Fathers would agree to prayer in school,(in the manner it had been done). As Ms. Linsley pointed out, Christian prayer can be a very private affair that does not require any overt attention nor dictum. America has certainly strayed far away from the the original intention of separation of Church and State.
Now that America has a larger Islamic population, it is very interesting to read of the Court's handling of Islamic prayer in the public school system. I feel quite certain this will blossom into a "hot button" religious right topic in the near future. Americans have an inherent knee-jerk reaction to prayer; this is a very handy topic to stir up the emotional side of a situation which camouflages the real issue.
Many Kentuckians are very upset about removing the Ten Commandments from schools and legal facilities; this unfortunately leads to vote buying, ( Kentuckians are well known for doing).

Dora Campbell said...

Alice,
Susan posting for Dora:
Our Founding Fathers were aware of the chaotic state of freedom to worship and state control in The Old World. It was a bit of a two-fold dual between the reigning church and the throne. In regards to separation of Church and State the Founding Fathers wisely chose to avoid a repeated history in the oppression of freedom of religion, one of the greater reasons which brought about the pilgrimage to America.

Dora

Alice C. Linsley said...

SirLazenby is quite right. The issue for the Founding Fathers was the establishment of a religion by the government. This would never have served to unified the colonies since some were Puritan (New England), some Quaker (Pennsylvania) and some Roman Catholic (Maryland). Elizabeth the I estaboished Anglicanism as the Church of England and insisted taht all English worhsip accordin tto the Book of Common Prayer. She wisely understaood that people whowroship together are less likely to kill each other and the bloodshed had to stop. The Church of England (Anglican) continues to be the established church in England and enjoys certain privileges, though today there is a move in England to dis-establish the C of E.

Religion was used by Isabel and Fernando to unite Spain for the first time in 1492, but establishment of a national religion doesn't always serve to unify a people. It really depends on the time, the place, and the people.

Nikki said...

My thoughts on this are jaded as my child goes to a private school and prays often. This has been modeled by his parents, teachers and peers. Although I understand what can occur because of differences in religious beliefs, I feel there are benefits to encouraging our children to express their beliefs in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism or for any religion. Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. Thomas Jefferson said (1807) "among the inestimable of our blessings, also, is that ...of liberty to worship our Creator in the way we think most agreeable to His will.” Children should not be afraid to publicly show their affection for the religious beliefs.

DeWayne said...

Personally, I have no problem with prayer in school. I see the problem with offering prayer time, if you will, in school since there are so many types of religions practiced in this country today, but I still see nothing wrong with having a few minutes set aside each day for prayer and reflection if the student desires.
Our founding fathers had no way of knowing what kind of mess our citizens, lawmakers, and lawyers have caused by interpreting the Consitution to suit our own needs. Even though it has been posted elsewhere in this thread (and that posting did make me rethink my stance) that there is no separation of church and state, I think there is and should be such a separation. Who among us wants the government to dictate how, when, or where we practice our own religion? Without giving specifics, if this wasn't such a hot topic, why are there constant battles over where the Ten Commandments can and will be placed? How can churches and religious-related organizations be given non-profit status?
I am a firm believer that our founding fathers wanted future generations of this great country to have the freedom of worship without the interference of the government.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Again, I want to point out that the Founding Fathers may have been more concerned with the power (and politics) of an Established church over the lives of citizens than the power of the government. In our representative form of government, we can remove someone from office by not re-electing him. A bishop serves for life and the only way he can be removed is by a agreement of a council of bishops.

Kyle Carey said...

I believe the religion in school is a very big issue. I think that everyone should have the freedom of religion to a certain extent. In schools children may benefit from others if they come to know their religion. The lack of knowledge can only lead to more discrimination about another religion. The religion in schools should be allowed during a certain time of the day, maybe during study hall.

Pam said...

Religion today is a very touchy subject that can sometimes offend people if it is not approached in the correct way. There are many different diverse religions that people all over the world practice. Even though people worship differently they should all respect each other for their own opinions and religious beliefs. This is why I believe freedom of religion is so important to a certain extent. I can see how prayer at ball games or graduation may make some people uncomfortable or leave them feeling left out. But it is also important that we don’t completely remove it from the school system.

Sydney said...

As a child, the elementary school I attended always allowed a moment of silence for any kind of prayer after the Pledge of Allegience. For me, it was always the right thing to have prayer being where I am a Christian. However, I do understand would this would make children uncomfortable, some may feel as if they have to at least look like they are praying so they don't get made fun of or feel left out. It causes much controversy for many families because of the diversity of religions in the U.S. today. As for the people of the U.S. I feel like we ourselves combine church and state every time there is some sort of election going on. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm sure many people vote for someone who they can closely relate their religious beliefs and opinions with. President Obama even used his religious beliefs during his campaign as did Senator Joh McCain. It, unfortunately, is something that candidates can use to gain popularity during pre-election. I'm not sure if church and state will ever be a complete seperation when almost everything we do as citizens in the U.S. involves some part of a religion or a belief, from school systems all the way up to our president and federal officials.

Shannon Christopher said...

I agree with most others in the fact that religion should be open or free within the schools to a certain extent. I do not feel that classroom wide prayer should be said every morning due to the diverse population of religions within a given school, however, who is to argue that the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States shouldn't be said or a few minutes of quiet time cant be shared for students to either pray silently or reflect for a moment. No one is saying that these students have to pray but just an opportunity to do so would probably benefit the student and please many parents. As for the founding fathers of our nation, I wasn't there so I'm not exactly sure where their stands would have been on this issue but considering religion played a huge role in the building of this great land, I would comfortably assume that they wouldn't be opposed in any situation as long as no one was forced into anything.

anita said...

I think our Founding Fathers would have attempted to incorporate prayer in our publically funded schools, however, there would have been the same discord that we have today in trying to accommodate the different denominational request. I believe our Founding Fathers intention was to establish a Christian based country. Although the military does provide religious services for most service men and women, however, individuals must be very careful so as not to be labeled and risk the chance of having documentation placed in their records with proselytization. Chaplains are the official authority to hold religious services for the service members in today's military.

tamar said...

I firmly believe in the right to practice ones religion. I understand where the problem would be to have religion in schools, yet it is not a problem in the military. Men and women at war, in my opinion at least are less likely to become scared and cynical if they are allowed to pray and seek guidance from their religious beliefs. In schools, there is really no immediate danger. People who are wanting to express religion during school are simply doing so out of desire, and dedication to that religion. Those at war are praying partly out of fear of the unknown. Hoping that their beliefs will keep them safe, and protected from their enemy. Granted, one could argue this in any profession, or situation where the population is in masses....however, there seems to be a bigger need for prayer in war than in a school setting.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Tamar, you make a good point. The soldier certainly needs prayer as he/she is faced with great challenges and the possibility of death while in combat. Some might argue that public schools are sometimes equally dangerous places for kids.

Chelly said...

Like several others have stated, I do believe that students should have a time, if desired, to practice their religious beliefs in public schools, but I also realize how this could pose a problem such as providing representatives from each religious group. Although I do believe religion is an important part of your upbringing and helps to form you into the person you are, I have to say that the emphasis should be on children going to school to gain an education rather having a place to worship.

Ashley said...

I am a firm believer in religion and one's right to practice their religion or beliefs freely. I agree with Shannon, I dont think making students say a prayer everyday is ok, but I do beleive a moment should be provided for those who wish to pray, to do so. When I was younger at daycare, we prayed everymorning, said prayer at lunch, and prayed before we took our naps. Because it was a religiously founded daycare it was ok, and parents and employees agreeed with the practices of the daycare. Once I started elementary and middle school, I continued to pray throughout my day and was not kept from doing so.

Mrs Linsley, you make a good point in repsonding to Tamar, that prayer in school wouldnt be such a bad thing with all the violence going on in school's across the states today.