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Prevent Coercive Prayer In Public Schools

1406 words - 6 pages

Prevent Coercive Prayer in Public SchoolsThe First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America reads: 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.' This amendment, commonly called the Establishment Clause, forms the foundation of the right of every American to practice their chosen religion freely and without the interference of the government. In 1947, the Supreme Court issued a statement emphasizing the separation of school and state based on this amendment. Students are entitled to the right to express their religious beliefs in school, but it is unconstitutional for the administration to endorse or discriminate against any religion. Due to this interpretation, the practice of coercive prayer is unconstitutional, and should be kept forever separated from this nation's schools.The purpose of public schools is to educate, not indoctrinate. Schoolchildren are a captive audience. How could a second-, fourth-, or even sixth-grader view the routine recital of prayers during the school day as a voluntary action? This invasive practice would create unnecessary divisions among children by making them unduly aware of their religious differences. Public schools are for everyone, whether they are Buddhist, Catholic, Muslim, or Taoist. The practice of organized prayer in schools invades the student's right to an education free of the discrimination which organized prayer would encourage.Many people mistake the religious indifference of public schools for hostility. Public schools must to be very careful to neither discriminate for nor against any single religion, and people often incorrectly perceive the schools' attitudes toward religion. The non-discrimination requirement may seem wrong to many, but when religion has a home in public schools, it singles out the students who disagree with the theology being taught. Prior to the Supreme Court's decisions against school prayer, it was standard practice to put the students who didn't agree with the theology being taught in places of detention during Bible readings and prayers.One argument in favor of the practice of school-organized prayer draws its basis from the belief that students must be taught morals in school, and that morals cannot be taught in the proper manner without the use of religion. Proponents of this viewpoint believe that an ethical code cannot exist without some higher power dictating it to mankind, because humans have not the self-control to follow such a code unless there is a deity to distribute rewards to the faithful and mete out punishments to the transgressors.There are several obvious fallacies in this argument. The first is the assumption that morals must be taught in public schools. Many people hold the belief that it is the duty of the students' parents, and not the responsibility of the school system, to teach the students matters of ethics. Another mistake is to assume that a moral law cannot...

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