@Gilda "It did not violate the Constitution b'c Congress
had not enacted any legislation on the subject, nor had they prohibited the free
exercise of religion."Unless you went to school before the
Constitution was written, then it WAS a violation of Constitutional rights.
Whether or not Congress had yet enacted legislation has no bearing. All that
means is that it had not previously been challenged. To the poster
who lamented the fact that we are teaching atheism in our schools...one does not
"teach" atheism, for there is nothing to be "learned". It is
simply a lack of belief in a supernatural being. Religion, on the other hand,
is absolutely taught.
To those who want prayer in schools -- what form of religion do you want to the
school district (i.e., the government) to establish as THE religion for the
schools, and how do you get around the prohibition in the First Amendment to the
US Constitution which bans the government stablishment of religion? Some form
of Christian prayer seems the most likely, given the propensity of those who
want it. I hope you understand that there are many forms of Christian faiths,
and they have very different values and dogma (and prayer regimens). How would
you pick the "correct" form of Christian prayer to use?And
the bigger question -- would you force a Jewish student to participate in a
Christian prayer? A Muslim student? A Wiccan? A follower of an Eastern
religion? A Satanist? How about those students who are being raised without
religion?Students are free to pray at their discretion (and, given
the need for help with tests, I would guess that a lot of students do just
that). What the students should not be forced to do, is conform to a government
establishment of what prayer/religion in school should be.
Tyler DI disagree on the timeline. I see the rise of
“apocalypse believing, rapture-ready politicians (e.g., Sarah
Palin)” has followed not preceded the near abolition of religion in the
public square.BTW - feel free to come to church and bring your mind
with you..my_two_cents_worth,Sure, here is a
public event. Two of my kids attended a high school awards event at a local
church. Prayer was offered by a Baptist minister (it was their church) and is
common in my community. I didn’t even blink.I have attended
(long ago now) city council type events where catholic priests prayed. Again,
no issue for me.If I were in a predominantly Muslim area and it was
an imam. Okay by me.I simply think that the intolerance of religion
in the public square is hardening the other side. And I don’t see a need
for it.By “casual” in the pledge, I mean that it is not
a prayer or denominational.
Mike Richards, you think the school should mandate that a child pray every
morning at school? Why are his/her parents leading that family in
prayer, in their home, in the morning, as the Prophet said to?Why
are you mandating the STATE, to do what parents and the Prophet has told us to
@MaudineYou have demonstrated how over reaching the progressive
interpretation of the 14th amendment is. The 14th amendment
indicates a law must created and it must be applied to all equally.What law is not being applied equally in hypothetical situation?Again a local run and paid for school does not and should not answer to the
federal government and the constitution.
@procuradorfiscal – “It's that too many in government no longer
remain neutral on the issue of religion.”You’re very
confused on this issue but it’s understandable given where you’re
coming from (i.e., a Christian).For the first time in maybe forever,
people are beginning to push back against the dogmas and in many cases insanity
of religious belief. Many of us are no longer willing to sit idly by while one
religion dominates our entire society and gets to dictate everything from what
is said or taught in public schools, to who gets to marry whom.And
judges, liberal and conservative, are bound by a secular constitution and are
realizing that just because everyone used to go along with this domination, the
Constitution actually does not permit it and they are forced to rule accordingly
(they are upholding American values).Just because you are no longer
getting everything you want doesn’t mean there is a war on religion
– you can do whatever you want in your in house or church. Let’s make a deal - you don’t pray in my school and I won’t
think in your church.
In Iceland and the rest of Scandinavia, there is an established church,
supported by tax funds. Christian religion is taught as a subject in public
schools.Liberals are supposed to think Scandinavia is a liberal
paradise on earth, right? Yet the kind of ceremonial public theism -- far less
extensive than its Scandinavian counterpart -- that is typically at issue in
these American debates gets them frothing at the mouth, as if the Taliban are
upon us. If liberals didn't have double standards, they'd
have no standards at all.
"What if it is a generic written prayer that would offend no one?"That was exactly what was struck down in Engel v. Vitale, the 1962 case
that killed school prayer: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our
dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our
teachers and our country. Amen."Theocracy! Eek!
Re: "Recently, I heard someone claim that America is going downhill because
God has been taken out of the schools."Well, as long as teachers
are authorized to give pop quizzes, prayer can never really be taken out of
schools. There are no atheists in foxholes, or during pop quizzes.But the issue is not really, that government-sponsored prayer has been removed
from schools. It's that too many in government no longer remain neutral on
the issue of religion. Government -- in the form of activist, liberal jurists,
teachers, school boards, and bureaucrats -- has become openly hostile to
religion. Too many in government now play the role of exalting and fostering the
agenda of the hypersensitive, hyper-aggressive atheist, humanist, and socialist
evangelists amongst us. Those whose real purpose is, not to advance tolerance or
diversity, but to actively destroy freedom to practice, or even believe,
one's faith.That's the reason America is going downhill.
Her government has, not just strayed too far from American and religious values,
but now actually permits the basest, least faithful among us to define
acceptable American religious belief and practice.
@Twin Lights"But what about allowing it at public
events?"Define public event. Is it an event where many if not
most in attendance are required to be there? Is it an event such as a council
meeting where the business of the council should be to encourage participation
by ALL residents regardless of religion? Is it a city celebration where folks
are going to be coming and going all day long and the principle interest is in
visiting the fire departments static display and getting cotton candy for the
kids? Any event with required attendance or event that is doing the
people's business (ALL the people's business), should be religion
neutral. Individuals citizens attending any of these type of events would still
have their individual right to pray and seek their deities guidance regardless.
"what about casual (non-denominational) mentions of God such as
in the pledge of allegiance?"But it is not casual. Just mention
an effort to drop "under God" and the Christian right--and only the
Christian right--goes ballistic. No other religious demographic demands its
@Twin Lights – “…the two sides seem to be ever
hardening”I don’t disagree with you (in spirit) but we
should keep in mind what is really driving this divisiveness. First
(by way of history lesson) whenever one group is oppressed (non-believers, in
this case) for literally thousands of years through everything from social &
political ostracizing to burning at the stake, we should at some point not be
surprised by some eventual pushback.2nd, most atheists/agnostics are
live and let live types and could care less what other people believe, but they
begin to chafe when believers start to have the kind of political power we have
seen with the rise of the Religious Right.Given the tensions in the
world today and our destructive capabilities, the idea of apocalypse believing,
rapture-ready politicians (e.g., Sarah Palin) being in charge of anything more
than a PTA meeting is frankly terrifying to those of us who want to pass on a
decent and well cared for Earth.In the grand scheme of things, this
is all just Newton’s Third Law of Motion playing out in the
Monday morning, will have a Bible verse in a prayer to Jesus.But
then it gets more complicated…Tuesday will need a compass and
prayer rugs for the student body, so we can locate Mecca and following a reading
from the Koran we will all kneel in prayer. Wednesday we'll
form a large circle, do a banishing ritual, invoke the goddess and her
blessings, and then release the circle. Readings will be from an appropriate
book of shadows.Thursday we can have a reading from the
Bhagavad-Gita, with incense and chanting. Hopefully we can also have chimes.Friday, a passage from the Tao Te Ching and a few minutes sitting zazen,
meditating on an appropriate koan, such as "how does forced participation in
religious rituals give us religious freedom?"Unless of course
prayer in school is to be interpreted as a Christian prayer and scripture in
schools is to be interpreted as the Bible only. Of course… That sounds
like it violates the First Amendment.
Kalindra.Actually, I don't think the written or printed word
God qualifies as a graven image.The words "In God We Trust"
appears on most/all of our coins. As a non-believer of religion, my
God is simply the natural world. And just as the religious people believe that
their God created them, I believe that my God, the natural world, created me.
While it is true there is a war going on between organized religion
and government about the right to advertise in the public square, using such
things as public prayer, clothing, jewelry, crosses, building structure,
external symbols, and maybe even saying grace in a restaurant, the fact that it
has been going on for centuries has conditioned us to just accept it and go on
with life. But we don't really need for this war to include children in
public schools. Try this, put a sign just outside your bedroom
with a phrase like "Be Kind to Others" and see if the words seem to
automatically appear in your mind as you pass by.
When growing up we had daily school prayer and no one objected or even commented
on it. It was a non-denominational Christian prayer (and a hymn and a reading
from the Bible). It came at the beginning of the day and no child was forced to
attend though almost everyone did. Any parent could excuse their child or
children from this religious exercise. The children did not object, parents did
not object, teachers were all for it b'c they felt that the children were
more well behaved if they began the day with a prayer. It did not violate the
Constitution b'c Congress had not enacted any legislation on the subject,
nor had they prohibited the free exercise of religion.Congress
itself has public prayer; interestingly it is very rare indeed for anyone to
criticize this. They show up as if for Sunday School in suits, white shirts
and ties, and pray publicly every day. So why is it wrong for the rest of us?.
I think it has to do with the fact that most people still favor public worship
and the congressmen want to cause them to think they are getting God's
Maudine,First, the percentages do indicate some decline. But more
to the point what appears to me (in my personal life and well outside of Utah)
is a bifurcation with fewer folks in the middle and more on one side or the
other.Agreed that forcing prayer is good for no one and the school
issue can be more difficult. But what about allowing it at public events? Let
me give a realistic example. Let us say I am attending a public event in a
mostly Jewish area and a local Rabbi offers a prayer or I am in a Muslim
community and a local Imam prays. Should I be offended or just go along?Or, what about casual (non-denominational) mentions of God such as in
the pledge of allegiance?I think part of the problem is that even
relatively benign acknowledgement of God are now being fought. The hardening on
one side leads to hardening on the other.
So, Mike Richards, you think the school should mandate that a child pray every
morning at school? That's what we're talking about. Not some kid
praying (which he is perfectly able to do right now.) This is school sponsored
prayer. And if you're for that in public schools, then you are FOR the
government intruding on a family's personal religious beliefs. At least if
you happen to be in the minority, which most likely, you never have been or you
wouldn't think it's such a great idea.
@ the greater truth: The Federal Constitution clearly states that it is the
supreme law of the land - most (if not all) state constitutions confirm this
fact. The 14th Amendment extended the protections of the Bill of Rights to the
states. Municipalities within a state are subject to the state constitution.
Smaller divisions, such as school districts, are subject to the municipality.
No matter how small you break down the governing body, it will still
be bound by the Federal Constitution and the rights of the minority cannot be
violated by the majority. You cannot use schools to force students to pray in
manners contrary to their religious practices or to gods they don't believe
in. @ Twin Lights: As stated in the article, religiousity in the US
has not changed that much since prayer has been removed from schools. Putting
it back and forcing children to pray in violation of their beliefs is not going
to make the country more religious nor is it going to suddenly ease tensions
between the "religious" and those who believe differently from them.
I think prayer in school is a bogey for a larger issue, the resistance to even
casual religious expression in the public square. In the wake of that absence,
the two sides seem to be ever hardening - no religion on one side, hyper zealous
religion on the other.It isn't good for the country and it
isn't good for religion. I don't know the right balance for prayer in
school, but in the larger debate I see as creating a divisive situation that
does not benefit either side in the long run.
I note with interest that neither the column or any comments make a case for
having school sponsored prayer
@the greater truthI think we need to be careful about majority rule when
it comes to religious matters. If Dearborn, Michigan had a majority population
of Muslims, would you think it proper for the public schools there to lead
prayers to Allah? If your children or grandchildren were in that classroom, what
would you do?
This is why the federal government needs to out of our local schools.Then the constitutional balance would be restored.The schools
should reflect the community they serve and are paid by, they can not and should
not reflect the wills and desires of each individual, nor the federal
government.The fact is the majority does rule to certain extent.It seems the progressive left teaches the individual or minority should
dictate to the majority.which means the minority must listen to the
majority voice as well, whether they like it or notAll the
constitution does is guarantee the minority has a voice, but the majority
representation still rules the day in the end.But the big problem
here is government dictating to local schools, something that is not in the
constitution.Local Schools were never intended to be part of the
government, certainly not the federal government.The definition of
what is the "government", has stretched into too many things, at the
pushing of progressives who want central control over all.
@ Ultra Bob: Actually, that is not quite correct. There are some religions -
Christian and otherwise - that object to the word "God" being written on
things such as plaques (no graven images), other religions worship
"Allah" or "gods" and/or "goddesses". You are also
ignoring the rights of those who believe in no god at all.As for the
idea that people will read things at eye level, that is not quite true either -
it depends on what other things people are doing and how many other signs there
are around. Eventually things just get lost in the background.
As long as we teach trigonometry in schools, there will always be prayer in
@Mike Richards"The Constitution protects our right to speak
(prayer)."Yup"The Constitution protects our
right to worship our God without Government interference."Yup"The government has restricted speech (prayer) and it has restricted
our right to worship (ban of prayer in schools)."Nope. The
government, in the government's school, has protected the religious rights
of ALL the students to NOT have YOUR religion forced upon them.Get
over it or move to a country that is a theocracy.
My favorite for the universal, generic and non-offensive prayer is the one that
goes:God bless America. It encompasses every religion
and is even patriotic. I would not have anyone recite it, just put
it on a plaque near the door, at about eye level. Right next to the plaque that
contains the pledge of allegiance to the American flag. I'm
thinking that kids are like people, they cant resist reading something that come
within their eyesight. If works, other plaques or signs could say
"you are the most important person in the world, try you best." "
everyone is the most important person to themselves""Math is
@Mike RichardsSouth Jordan, UtahThe Constitution protects our right
to speak (prayer).The Constitution protects our right to worship our
God without Government interference.=========== The
Government has NEVER banned prayer in School.I prayed all the time
IN School.MY personal FREEDOM was never infringed or threatened in
anyway what-so-ever.This boogie-man-under-the-bed Straw man argument
that the Government is somehow keeping you from praying is completely 100%
bogus!We can pray all we want to,anytime we want to, just not making a public spectacle of it, Like like KJB1 said in
the very first commnet -- get off the Rameumptom, and Pray in
Private -- just like Jesus commanded.
There seems to be some confusion among some of the posters here. You can pray
all you like at school, you just can't force others to listen to you.
actually I agree. The STATE or PUBLIC school system is rotting on the vine and
that trend is only going to get worse going forward. This public system run by
secular progressives will continue to decay and I see parents moving to private
schools or charter schools that CAN and WILL have their own version of Christian
or Jewish or Muslim school prayer and values. What this means is only the
wealthy will be able to aford the private schools and the rest are either going
to have to home school or take their chances in the God-less, socialist public
school system. You can really see ...maybe 50 years down stream ... two
Americas. Like California where you have the wealthy Hollywood and tech
CEO's and then the rest of the state which happens to contain the HIGHEST
poverty rate in the country ...I see America 50 years from now in the same exact
situation. I see those kids in public school system under-educated and
unprepared for college as well as being taught atheism and other toxic
ideologies. Throw into that public system an increasing degree of violence as
well. The other smaller America will be faith based.
Re: Mike Richards"The Constitution protects our right to worship
our God without Government interference."So if my religion
believes in human sacrifice, you are willing to offer yourself for my religion.
I can't wait to perform my next religious ceremony.Since the
Constitution absolutely protects our right to speech, you are willing to allow
your kids or grand kids be forced to pray to Allah, Odin, Zeus, or any other
god, even if you don't believe in those gods?
The question comes down to a very basic questiion on the part of those who
prohibit speech. They see government as "god" who protects them from
ideas foriegn to their personal beliefs. Can they cite any part of the
Constitution that prohibits speech? Can they cite any part of the Constitution
that lets government censor speech? Can they site any part of the CONSTITUTION
that prohibits the free exercise of religion? Of course not. They cite liberal
judges who legislated from the bench in direct violation of Article 1, Section
1. So much for respecting the Constiturion! They "worship"
liberal judges who disrespect their fellow Americans by legislating from the
"As long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in school" -- I
don't know who said that originally, but I suspect it may have been the
late, great Lewis Grizzard.Nobody has banned prayer in school. What
have been banned are ostentatious, exclusionary, teacher-led prayers. And good
riddance to them.And, Mike Richards, the establishment clause of the
1st Amendment is absolutely protection of freedom from religion. By definition
there cannot be freedom of religion without freedom from religion.
@Mike Richards – “There is NO protection of freedom FROM religion
written in the Constitution.”Mike – you continue to
(mis)understand the Constitution in ways that would make Clarence Thomas look
like Earl Warren.To your question above, what part of
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”
as well as the 14th Amendment and incorporation precedents (making the Bill of
Rights apply to state and local governments too) do YOU not understand?
"Shouldn’t majorities be able to impose their religious will on
minorities in public ..."Isn't that what Amendment 3 is
about? Religion and public policy do not good bedfellows make,
whether in schools, civil policies, etc.
@ Mike: Students and teachers are more than welcome to pray in school - what
they are not allowed to do is to disrupt class or interfere with other
individuals, nor are they allowed to force or coerce others to join with
them.Coincidentally, students and teachers are also prohibited from
engaging in other disruptive speech such as uttering expletives.You
cannot use your rights to infringe on the rights of others.
Davis is completely correct here. I once favored the right to pray in school,
but then I listened to one of the most religious men I've known discuss the
issue and point out the danger of violation of the religious beliefs and rights
of the minority. I changed my mind. What goes on in the home and in the
privacy of ones life is what forms the foundation, not whether a prayer is said
in a public place where the point of the gathering is not a religious gathering.
The Constitution protects our right to speak (prayer).The
Constitution protects our right to worship our God without Government
interference.The government has restricted speech (prayer) and it
has restricted our right to worship (ban of prayer in schools). What
part of the Constitution do those who favor the ban on prayer not understand?
What part of freedom of speech and freedom of religion do they not understand?
There is NO protection of freedom FROM religion written in the Constitution.Get over it or move to a country that officially suppresses speech and
I've been in the unique position of having attended a school which began
every day with prayer. It was a Catholic school. Here's what
I saw - most students didn't care one whit about the prayer, they just said
the words to get through it and get it done. It wasn't a meaningful ritual
or part of the day. The reasons adults wanted us to pray weren't being met
by the actual daily prayer in school.Students are allowed to pray to
themselves any time they want (so long as they don't disrupt other students
and classroom activities). Those who find it meaningful will do so, those who
Growing up, We HAD prayer in school...It's called
"released time", we held it off campus, on Church owned
property, and we called it "Seminary".Prof. Davis is
once again correct.Making State Sponsored prayers a School requirement,
means the State can teach our Children to pray to any diety, and
parents have no say so.Lucifer, Zeus, Allah, Ganesh, even
Idolatry.What is the difference between Sharia Law, and what
these "Prayer in School" folks are trying to do?
Great article, Richard. You raise exactly the right questions.
I remember forced prayer in the schools when I was a child. The two Catholic
children in our class put their palms together when they prayed instead of
folding their arms like us Mormons. Of course, the Catholics were mercilessly
bullied for doing this outrageous thing once we got out in the schoolyard.
Excellent article. I went to high school in Indiana, and we had school
assemblies featuring an evangelical preacher who urged all to accept Jesus as
our personal savior. As a Mormon, I was shunned by people I thought of as
This letter is very much like the pot calling the kettle dishonest.
What would Jesus say (or how would he act) on this subject? Well, let’s
look:Matthew 6:5-7Luke 5:16Mark 1:35
I find it ironic that the very same people who wanted to bomb those in the
Middle East for this, keep trying to do the same thing right here in
This article is full of logic and reason. And Facts.If you weigh
the pros and cons of prayer in school, the cons far far outweigh the good.It is virtually impossible to have school prayer without offending some.Anyone can pray anytime they want and no one can stop you. Just keep it
I always find it interesting that those that scream the loudest that the
government cannot properly teach our children the basics such as Math, English,
History, Social Studies, etc., seem to be the same ones who want the government
to teach our children how to pray.
Remember the story of the Rameumptom? There's a good lesson there if all
these prayer-hungry "Christians" are willing to learn it...