Chapter three of Civil Liberties: Opposing Viewpoints inspired me to research today’s issues of school prayer. To understand how we got to where we are today, I first delved into our countries history of court cases pertaining to rulings on prayer in schools. Lastly, to update my audience on how our lives are being affected today, I directed my efforts toward finding current situations. By analyzing these situations, I gained knowledge for a better understanding of why society needs to be aware of these controversies. I don’t think there should be any form of organized prayer in today’s public schools.
Praying in school was first addressed in the Supreme Court in 1962 in the Engle v. Vitale case. The Establishment Clause emerged and stated Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. The court ruled the Union Free School District in Hyde Park, NY had violated the First Amendment by directing the principals to cause the following prayer to be said aloud by each class in the presence of a teacher at the beginning of each school day: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country” (Longley, "Public"). I agree with the courts ruling because not all students in a classroom share the same beliefs. To cause everyone to say this prayer surely violates their rights.
Two other court cases were influential in addressing prayer. In the 1971 Lemon v. Kurtzman case the Supreme Court composed a list of guidelines, known as the Lemon Test, to prove a practice unconstitutional. It states the court will rule a practice unconstitutional if: 1. It lacks any secular purpose. 2. The practice either promote...
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...endment on School Prayer or Moment of Silence." Library n.d. 28 Oct. 2001
* Lesk, Emily. “My Turn: My 60-Second Protest From the Hallway.” Newsweek 11 June 2001: 12-13.
* Longley, Robert. "Chruch and State: How the Court Decides." U.S. Gov Info/Resources n.d. 12 Nov. 2001
* Longley, Robert. "Public Schools Don't Have a Prayer." U.S. Gov Info/Resources n.d. 15 Nov. 2001
* McCuen, Gary E. Religion and Politics: Issues in Religious Liberty. Hudson: G.E. McCuen Publications, 1989.
* Roleff, Tamara L. Civil Liberties Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1999.
* Swomley, John M. Religion, The State and The Schools. New York: Pegasus, 1968.
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