Plug into the Internet search box of your computer the question – “Should students be allowed to pray in school?” – and you find a bunch of sites to check out, all with differing opinions. Most surveys suggest that 69 percent of Americans are strongly in favor of prayer in schools with 31 percent opposed.
A survey by states showed that most states in favor of school prayer were above 90 cent, with the exception of Vermont with 86 percent for and 14 percent opposed results.
But the answer is no, children and students should NOT be allowed to pray publicly as a part of the school agenda since the issue involves a separation of church and state. But the answer is also yes, students should be allowed to pray in school since it is a religious freedom issue.
Both answers are right – and both answers are wrong. There is no prohibition on silent or private prayer in school, only in a public expression of prayer which would have to be composed by someone with a particular viewpoint.
The prayer composer for a school or public meeting would have one viewpoint, whether that person is a non-denominational school principal, a minister, rabbi, imam or whoever. Public expression of prayer is wrong, wrong, wrong in this secular country.
By the same point, any student or child can silently think of their views, religious or not, at any time or place. People can silently pray while in school, eating lunch at work, driving to a meeting (keep your eyes open, please!), taking a bathroom break or at a sporting event. The list could go on and on.
Students can pray (silently) for world peace, an end to poverty or to get into Mary’s underpants this weekend. They can pray (silently) for a good education for all children in the world, an end to slavery or to blow up the school administration building during summer vacation.
The confusion arises from those days prior to the 1962 Supreme Court decision to prevent publicly vocalized prayer in public schools. Prior to that, children in K through 12th grade were often required to take a turn before the beginning of classes saying a pre-written prayer and with hand over heart, leading the class in the Pledge of Allegiance.
In private schools not subject to public scrutiny or funding, prayer could be said and demanded of pupils as a condition of attending that school. Thus, Catholic schools can and do demand prayer and other religious services, and the same can or could apply to those school of other faiths, such as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. No problem there.
I went to a college originated and involved with a Protestant faith and all students were required to attend a chapel service twice weekly. Yes, attendance was kept.
The irony of all this among those who vehemently insist upon vocalized public prayer in public schools and places is that most only want or demand Christian prayer. Thus, the evil rat of Christian religious domination raises its ugly head.
A county council meeting in Alabama recently prevented a Wiccan opening a meeting with a Wiccan invocation. A county council in North Carolina allows only Christian prayer to open their meetings. That’s a violation of the Constitution and of the recent (and wrong) 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court to allow “generalized” prayer for public meetings.
Allowing prayer in schools? Yes and no. Silently and/or privately, prayers of any type are fine by any student or school teacher. A prayer said by a school official, principal or official at a public meeting in a public place is wrong.
As for school, I bet you can’t stop private silent prayer. Can you imagine any 11th or 12th grade student entering a class for a final exam in algebra or trigonometry and not voicing a silent prayer?