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Religion In Public Schools Essay

1422 words - 6 pages

Religion in Public Schools" Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof......" 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, "In God We Trust". And what about when they swear-ingovernment officials with a Bible? Why not use the Torah or the Koran?Is it separation of church and state when Congress openseach session with a Christian prayer? The following prayer wasrecited at the start of the November 30, 1994 session:2We pray, O God, for the bread for the sustenance ofour 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: " 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 school".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 theschool 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 there3are severe disagreements on the subject of religion in the schools.Religion in public schools has been around many years. In fact, it started in the colonial period of United States history when the schools were thought to be an arm of the church; therefore, their curriculum contained religion. Of course, their schools didnÕt have many or probably any Muslims or Jews, but how does that differ from a small country town in Oklahoma where the population is completely of the Christian faith? Does this mean that the school cannot practice the religion in which the complete population is Christian? ArenÕt these students being denied their religious rights? These questions may be asked by many.Government has a lot to do with the debate. Many Supreme Court rulings have made laws allowing or prohibiting the act of praying in schools in the past eighty years. The first one was in 1914 when the "Gary Plan" was inaugurated in4Gary,Indiana.The document stated that with the consent of parents, students...

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