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Prayer in school. By kelby Graves . The purpose of this study was to examine (1) the relationship between children’s use of prayer as a coping strategy and other protective resources, and (2) whether children who prayed frequently and those who never prayed exhibited different levels of

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prayer in school

Prayer in school

By kelby Graves

slide2

The purpose of this study was to examine (1) the relationship between children’s use

  • of prayer as a coping strategy and other protective resources, and (2) whether children
  • who prayed frequently and those who never prayed exhibited different levels of
  • perceived stress and health behaviors. Prayer was found to be positively related to the
  • protective resources of social connectedness and sense of humor. In addition, children
  • who prayed frequently reported significantly higher levels of positive health behaviors
  • than children who never prayed. These two groups of children did not significantly
  • differ in their levels of perceived stress.
  • Childhood
slide3

School prayer would result in many societal benefits. The public school system is tragically disintegrating as evidenced by the rise in school shootings, increasing drug use, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and HIV transmission. School prayer can help combat these issues, would instill a sense of morality and is desperately needed to protect our children.

slide4

School prayer would allow religious students an opportunity to observe their religious beliefs during the school day. The U.S. Supreme Court has urged school cooperation with religious authorities for “it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs.”

the first amendment
The First Amendment
  • The opening two clauses of the First Amendment deal precisely with the issue of what the government can and cannot do with respect to religion. The Establishment Clause,
the history of prayer in public schools
The History of Prayer in Public Schools
  • The controversy over officially sponsored prayer in public schools did not begin in 1962, when the Supreme Court first ruled that such observances violate the Establishment Clause. It began more than one hundred years earlier, in the 1830s, when waves of Italian and Irish Catholic immigrants came to this country and objected to compulsory readings of the Protestant King James Bible and the recitation of Protestant prayers in most public schools. A bitter conflict erupted, including riots, the expulsion of Catholic children from public schools, the burning of convents, and even some deaths.
religion in public schools
Religion in Public Schools
  • The Constitution permits much private religious activity in and about the public schools. Unfortunately, this aspect of constitutional law is not as well known as it should be. Some say that the Supreme Court has declared the public schools "religion-free zones" or that the law is so murky that school officials cannot know what is legally permissible. The former claim is simply wrong. And as to the latter, while there are some difficult issues, much has been settled. It is also unfortunately true that public school officials, due to their busy schedules, may not be as fully aware of this body of law as they could be. As a result, in some school districts some of these rights are not being observed.
teaching about religion
Teaching About Religion
  • Students may be taught about religion, but public schools may not teach religion. As the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly said, "it might well be said that one's education is not complete without a study of comparative religion, or the history of religion and its relationship to the advancement of civilization." It would be difficult to teach art, music, literature and most social studies without considering religious influences.
religious holidays
Religious Holidays
  • Generally, public schools may teach about religious holidays, and may celebrate the secular aspects of the holiday and objectively teach about their religious aspects. They may not observe the holidays as religious events. Schools should generally excuse students who do not wish to participate in holiday events. Those interested in further details should see Religious Holidays in the Public Schools: Questions and Answers, a pamphlet published by a broad spectrum of religious and civil liberties groups.
pro school prayer position
Pro School Prayer Position
  • Since the Engel decision in 1962, religious advocates have been assailing the Supreme Court for "taking God out of the classroom." In an effort to reverse this trend, conservative religious groups have been fighting for the passage of a school prayer amendment to gain greater leeway for religious activities in schools. Clearly not all school prayer advocates agree as to what types of religious activities are permissible in public schools and why, but the following are some of the most frequently heard arguments.
slide11

School prayer would result in many societal benefits. The public school system is tragically disintegrating as evidenced by the rise in school shootings, increasing drug use, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and HIV transmission. School prayer can help combat these issues, would instill a sense of morality and is desperately needed to protect our children.

slide12

School prayer may lead to intolerance. Public prayer will highlight religious differences of which students may have been unaware. Those students who abstain from school prayer may be ostracized.

  • School prayer is inherently coercive and cannot be implemented in a way that is truly voluntary.
  • The public school system is created for all students and supported by all taxpayers. It should therefore remain neutral on religious issues over which students and taxpayers will differ.
slide13

Since no formal school prayer could honor the tenets of all the religions practiced in the U.S., as well as various denominational differences, prayer is better left in the home and religious institution of the individual student’s choice. A related argument is that school prayer usurps the role of parents and religious institutions who desire to provide instruction in keeping with their own beliefs.

slide14

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 to act according to the dictates of a non-religious minority.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court has misinterpreted the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. A simple and voluntary school prayer does not amount to the government establishing a religion, any more than do other practices common in the U.S. such as the employment of Congressional chaplains or government recognition of holidays with religious significance and National Days of Prayer.
slide15

School prayer would allow religious students an opportunity to observe their religious beliefs during the school day. The U.S. Supreme Court has urged school cooperation with religious authorities for “it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs

slide16

Some do not feel the need to include prayers in the daily school activities. In their view, in a government-funded school, the religion followed by the government is unknowingly forced upon the school children. It is rather a violation of the principle of the freedom of religion. Prayers in school thus become a compulsion, no longer remaining a healthy practice. Moreover, there is already a provision for students to pray during their free time. This is sufficient to enable them observe their religion. Those in disfavor of prayers in school feel that school is only an educational institution. They see no utility of religion becoming a part of it. They think it right to only academically train the students and not get involved into the religious aspect of their mind. Prayers can rather give rise to feelings of religious discrimination and inequality in the minds of the children. Students are unnecessarily exposed to the religious differences between each other.

slide17

Prayer in School - Prayer During Non-instructional Time

  • Students may pray when not engaged in school activities or instruction, subject to the same rules designed to prevent material disruption of the educational program that are applied to other privately initiated expressive activities. Among other things, students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other non-instructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities. While school authorities may impose rules of order and pedagogical restrictions on student activities, they may not discriminate against student prayer or religious speech in applying such rules and restrictions.
prayer in school moments of silence
Prayer in School - Moments of Silence
  • If a school has a "minute of silence" or other quiet periods during the school day, students are free to pray silently, or not to pray, during these periods of time. Teachers and other school employees may neither encourage nor discourage students from praying during such time periods