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Did you know there are people out there who believe that it is against the law for there to be prayer in public schools? They think that the government has passed some law keeping all of it outside of schools, that you can never pray inside a school. How silly of them! Of course there is prayer in schools, probably every day in just about every school, especially right before a test. Nobody is keeping an eye on the students, watching to see if any of them bow their heads or have their eyes closed and seem to be doing something privately, and punishing and/or suspending them for it. Heck, there are even schools that have religious clubs that meet after school on school grounds!

But I guess maybe that's not what they meant when they talk about school prayer being illegal. Maybe they really mean compulsory prayer, where the teacher, principal, or priest/pastor leads everyone in prayer that best fits the beliefs of the majority. Where public piety in schools is the default, and the student that doesn't want to participate is the one that stands out as different. Hmm, religious indoctrination by peer pressure. It seems awfully odd that they're so upset about each student being able to choose whether or not, and how, they pray.

Has become a big issue again due to the Supreme Court decision in Santa Fe Independent School District v. DOE. Listen to the people complain about the fact that they're not allowed to enforce their tyranny of the majority.

As with a lot of controversial issues, this problem has its root in fundamentalism, and the dangers thereof.

Historical situation: Fundamentalist Christians established the American school system back in colonial days (America was founded by puritans). Prayer was mandatory, and nobody complained, since practically everyone back then was Christian. And those that weren't quickly became human firewood.

Progression: More and more people have come to disown the Christian faith - either as rebellion against their peers/parents, or because it doesn't fit in with their world view.

Current situation: There are now, arguably, more people in American schools who couldn't give a fuck about God, than people that do. These people do not want to pray to God, and certainly do not wish to be forced to.

Reaction by fundamentalist groups: Apply pressure to school boards and legislators to enforce school prayer - and thus a belief system - onto students by having them pray at school.

Problem: Freedom of religion prevents schools from favoring one religious belief system over the other.

Problem with aforementioned problem: Fundamentalist groups are convinced that the other religious belief systems are hoaxes and conjured up by the Devil, and thusly do not give a fuck. There should be no choice in the matter.

Problem with the whole thing: Some people agree with the fundamentalist views.

Possible solution: Free choice. Let the individual choose for him/herself whether they want to participate in organized prayer.

Problem with possible solution: People can't think for themselves.

Situation: Unsolveable.

The facts, as I've read them (Research done from the Washington Post):

Virginia, of course, tried a high-profile measure several months ago to take a minute of silence each day in schools for "prayer or silent meditation." This was struck down by the Supreme Court as un-Constitutional. However, the brief that they submitted indicated that "a less clumsy effort to disguise the intent of prayer" would win their approval.

There has been, as of yet, no follow-up by Virginia's state legislature to draft a new bill.

It seems that the Supreme Court will strike down any bill requiring enforced silence for a reason that is obviously prayer. Tihs would probably include most bills pushed hard by lobbyists for school prayer, or drafted by legislators who openly support prayer.

However, keep in mind that there has not yet been a wide-ranging ruling by the Court yet. Each case involving school prayer has been taken and ruled on in an individual manner, with the decision not having any wider effect. This would indicate that the official stance of the Court is that if any student objects to a prayer in school enough to file a lawsuit, that the prayer must be stopped; but prayers in school are otherwise acceptable.

This leaves wide leeway open for both sides of the debate. The most likely outcome is that the Court will continue to rule individual cases. The one chance that this could change will come in a large case where one side risks losing the case to challenge/uphold the very Constitutionality of officially sanctioned prayer in school.

I think the problem here is that unless there is religious framework in place you are always going to get people in the assembly who would rather not be there and praying. I must say that I attended a school where Prayer was compulsory at least twice a day, once in morning assembly, and once at grace at lunch. I didn't mind either, even though I was (heck, still am) Muslim.

I was lucky, in our school the emphasis was on genuine thanks and respect for what we had received (it was quite a posh school, but full of nice people) , and there was nothing at all sectarian, or holier than thou about it. I usually participated in the prayer, modifying the solely Christian bits cos they aren't particularly Islamic, and prayed to God anyway. I didn't mind. I was the only Muslim there. Still, that being said I would have liked the option of praying privately when my prayer times came around, which wasn't available then.

I think schools should make provision for people to pray if they so wish, and they should be given the privacy and respect to do so. I also think that religious practices should be protected, no one should ridicule another's way of practicing faith. I also believe that schools themselves should be free from the sort of religious fundamentalism that eats the hearts out of many teenagers and disillusions them to their society.

Religion is a very positive thing, especially when given room to grow peacefully. It is only when they feel under attack do religious people become belligerent. Lets make sure that doesn't happen.

One of the smartest things I have ever read on usenet:
(another poster had just said 'jesus forbid public prayer')

"Very little is forbidden to Christians
we are given choices(free will)

Pray in private and you are praying to be holy -
your reward is in heaven

Pray in public and you are praying to appear holy -
your reward is on earth

jesus was talking about people with a holier than thou attitude,
and clergy who aligned themselves with civil authorities for political power

the more things change...

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