Allowing prayer in public schools is a much debated issue in the U.S. According to the First Amendment to the U. S Constitution, “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 people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” (What are the pros and cons of prayer in school?) The Establishment Clause of the U.S Constitution has been misinterpreted by the Supreme Court which has led to this controversy. Standard prayer was banned in every public school in 1962 and since then prayers are opposed by many Americans who dangerously proclaim not “freedom of religion” but “freedom from religion.” Many even demand separation of church and state. But banning school prayer is a violation of the democratic choice of students. At the base of all religions, there is a way of expressing the deepest feelings and thoughts in the form of prayer and it is the fundamental right of every person to pray when he desires, therefore prayer should be allowed in public schools.
It is argued by the opponents of school prayer that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is violated by school prayer because government is not allowed to make any law respecting the establishment of religion. Since public schools are funded by the government, therefore school prayer led by school officials makes up government-established religion. Some also argue that the “separation of church and state” is also violated by school prayer because public schools are intended to educate children therefore religious observance should not be allowed. Since every student can pray on voluntary basis therefore there is no need of a formal school prayer. Opponents of prayer in public school also argue that intolerance is caused by school prayer because religious differences are highlighted and those who do not want to pray may be ostracized. A formal school prayer is coercive and since the public school system is developed for every student, implementing school prayer in a way that is truly voluntary is absolutely wrong. The public school system is developed for every student and all taxpayers support it. Therefore, it should be kept neutral on issues such as prayer over which taxpayers and students can differ. It also argued that the tenets of every religion practiced in the U.S cannot be honored by any formal prayer, so it should be left in the religious institution and home of students. It is believed that the role of parents and religious institutions who want to provide education in accordance with their own beliefs is usurped by school prayer.
But those in favor in school prayer argue that the foundation of the American society is based on the Bible which says that, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). And in 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 people are told to “Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.” (What are the pros and cons of prayer in school?) According to a recent poll, 55% of the people surveyed said that American life is not much influenced by religion. While other polls stated that during the 2004-election year, almost 80% of all American citizens claimed to be religious and prayed. Therefore, prayer cannot be taken out of school. If anyone chooses to pray at one’s own choice, then it should be allowed. Banning school prayers harms the religious freedom of those who want to pray and they are forced to act according to the rules of a non-religious minority.
There are many societal benefits of school prayers as well. It has been noted that the public school system has tragically disintegrated because there has been a rise in school shootings, alcoholism, HIV transmission and teen-pregnancy It was found that a year after prayers were banned in public schools, the pregnancy rate for girls less than fifteen rose to 27, 000 from 5,000 per year and the SAT scores too were affected. Drug use and violence have also become common since then which is not just a coincidence. These problems can be controlled by school prayer which instills a sense of morality which is desperately needed to protect the children of the United States. More should be done by schools than training the minds of children academically. The souls of children should also be nurtured and the values taught at home should also be reinforced. Religious students are given an opportunity to observe their religious beliefs and school cooperation with religious authorities has been urged by the U.S Supreme Court for “it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs.”
Banning prayer in public school is controversial issue in the U.S. The Establishment Clause of the U.S Constitution has been misinterpreted by the Supreme Court which has led to this controversy. Opponents of school prayer argue that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment is violated by school prayer because government is not allowed to make any law respecting the establishment of religion. But it is argued by those in favor of prayer in public school that banning school prayers harms the religious freedom of those who want to pray and they are forced to act according to the rules of a non-religious minority. There has been a rise in school shootings, alcoholism, HIV transmission and teen pregnancy but these problems can be controlled by school prayer which instills a sense of morality which is desperately needed to protect the children of the United States. Banning school prayer is a violation of the democratic choice of students therefore prayer should be allowed in public school so that the souls of children are nurtured and the values taught at home are also reinforced in school.