Religion In Public Schools

Religion in Public Schools

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof......Ó according to the First Amendment of the Constitution. This idea of freedom of religion has been stated very clearly, but it also raises questions about the meaning of religious freedom .
Should religious expression be excluded from all government activities? Has separation of church and state been violated by the U.S. Treasury? For example, on the back of every U.S. coin are the words, ÒIn God We TrustÓ. And what about when they swear-in government offficials with a Bible? Why not use the
Torah or the Koran?

Is it separation of church and state when Congress opens each session with a Christian prayer? The following prayer was recited at the start of the
November 30, 1994 session:

We pray, O God, for the bread for the sustenance of our bodies and spiritual food for the nourishment of our souls. In a world where much seems to be discouraging and where problems appear at every corner, we pray that the human spirit will not be taught by cynicism or despair, but rejoice in the possibilities of every new day and accept all
Your blessings with thanksgiving. Amen.

For some people in the Congress this raises serious questions about when prayer is or is not appropriate. One of the Representatives from Oklahoma made this comment in the Congressional Digest on November 30, 1994: Ò It was fine for Rev. James David Ford to offer this prayer, yet it is a prayer our children our not allowed to say in schoolÓ.
Since no amendment has been made allowing or prohibiting prayer, many schools have gone ahead and recited verses from the bible and allowed prayer in class. Another area of controversy has been the presence of religious symbols on the school grounds. Schools such as the one in Livingston have gone to court over the wearing or carrying of objects such as the SikhÕs kirpans. All these examples point to the fact that there are severe disagreements on the subject of religion in the schools.

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...ow I love him. Maybe in different religions they feel differently, but whatever people think I agree that worship time is worship time, and school time is school time. You can bet that religion is going to open up a whole new can of problems,so letÕs work with the cards we have now, before we deal some more.

As we pass through the 104th Congress, House Speaker Newt
Gengrich has set a goal of passing a constitutional amendment by the 4th of July that promises that children in our public schools will have a right to voluntary prayer. Let'Õs see if he succeeds.

David R. Glasgow Core 7-2 Mrs. Roland May 2, 1994


Armstrong, James . "Freedom of Religion." World Book
Encyclopedia,1991, Volume 4, p. 505.

Ferguson, M.L. The American Principle of the Separation of
Church and State. Waco,Texas, Baylor University Press, p.45.

"Prayer In School-Still A Troubling Problem". U.S. News &
World Report, Feb. 8 1975, p.101.

Roth, Cecil. "Religion in Public Schools". Merit Student
Encyclopedia, 1967, Volume15, p.146.

"Should a School Prayer Constitutional Amendment be
Approved by Congress?", Congressional Digest, January
1995, p. 18-20.

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