The Controversy Over Religion in Public Schools

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The Controversy Over Religion in Schools

"God help, I'm so lost!" If you listen carefully, this is a common thought that is heard throughout many schools in the nation. Is this thought appropriate? The following statement clearly shows that the law allows students and adults to practice religion, but at the same time be respective of others and their beliefs even if they do believe or if they don't. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, or to petition the government for a redress of grievances." (First Amendment, The Constitution of the United States). Prayer is not normally permitted as a scheduled part of classroom activities, because it would result in the violation of the principle of church-state separation, which has been defined by court interpretations of the 1st Amendment to the U.S, Constitution. The separation principle is extended to Public school as an arm of the government, with an exception which can be permitted if, during the school year, a mixture of prayers, statements, etc are delivered, using material derived from a number of different religions and secular sources. So far, this has never been tried in a school or ruled upon by a court (Religion in Public).

This plainly states that public school teachers, principals, and boards are required to be religiously neutral. They may not promote a particular religion as being superior to any other, and may not promote religion in general as superior to a secular approach to life. They also may not promote secularism in general as superior to a religious approach to life, be antagonistic to religion in general or a particular religious belief, be antagonistic to secularism, and they must neither advance nor inhibit religion (Religion in Public).

Although there are a lot of "don'ts", student-initiated prayer is allowed in various situations and locations in the public school system. For example, it is allowed in school buses, at the flagpole, in after-hours student religious clubs, in the school hallways, in the cafeteria, and in the classroom before or after scheduled classes (Religion in School).

Students are guaranteed the right to pray, as long as it is not disruptive, and it is not promoted during classroom hours. Not only are these permitted, they are actually protected forms of speech under the U.

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