Religion in School
“Juliana! It is 7:00. Time to get up,” yelled my sister Jessica every Wednesday morning during our high school years. We got up earlier than usual those Wednesday mornings for FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). FCA was held in the classroom of my social studies teacher who was also the instructor of FCA. I never realized how lucky I was to have an organized religious group at my high school until I talked to some friends from other schools. I was then given a taste of the reality of religion in school in overall society in the United States. Growing up in a small town lacking diversity in religions, I did not see the big picture that religion in schools is an issue.
In order to discover what it was truly like to be exposed to the issue of religion in school I talked to three college students who graduated from large high schools. While talking to them I realized many religious privileges I took for granted at my school. For instance, these students could not say “Christmas break” because it was related to Jesus. Instead they had to say “winter break.” They simply did not have Easter break because the holiday was related to Christ. After interviewing my friends about religion in their schools I understand there is controversy on the subject.
“Prayer does not belong in classrooms (1996),” states Ami Neiberger, a public relations programmer. Neiberger considers prayer at public school to violate the first amendment. Her strongest argument is saying state and religion should stay separate. This means the state should not have control of religion when it is present in school. Neiberger also does not think it is appropriate for prayer to take place at public schools or school organizations. She gave some examples of historical controversies of religion in schools to prove that mandatory religious practices do not work. She says, “Prayer in schools in the 19th century was so divisive it provoked civil strife in some communities (1996).” Another thought Neiberger discusses is she believes there are too many problems with people becoming offended that are of different religions. Her proposal is to leave prayer and religion out of the public school system.
Problems with proposal
I do not understand the problem with expressing religion if we have the freedom of religion. Neiberger’s proposal to keep religion out of public schools is insensitive to my rights to have religious freedom. The first amendment of the United States of America says, “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, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” (Legal Information Institute). I feel Neiberger’s proposal is attempting to interfere with my religious freedoms. To me, the freedom of religion phrase in the...