Monday, December 24, 2012

School Prayer

School Prayer
Prayer is currently permitted in U.S. public schools, so long as it is not officially sponsored by the school and does not interfere with others doing their work.

The current state of the law is the result of numerous court cases dealing with the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…" If you insist on public school sponsored prayer then your beef is with the Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court, not with 'godless' liberal politicians. Indeed, conservative Christian politicians are the ones proposing legislation regarding school prayer. They have repeatedly attempted to require school sponsored prayer.

According to the Establishment Clause, officially sponsored school prayer is tantamount to religious coercion. It forces on students and teachers a particular religious dogma that may well be at odds with their own religious views and social values. Panderbear seriously doubts that many advocates of school prayer have in mind Muslim teachers and students bringing in their prayer rugs and disrupting classes by kneeling and praying at the times required by Islam. That being the case and peer pressure among children being what it is, open school prayer clearly favors Christianity over less followed religions and thus constitutes an obvious violation of the Establishment Clause.

Christians who want their children to practice religious observance in school have several options: they can encourage their children to pray silently in a public school; they can send their children to a parochial or private school with an overtly religious curriculum; or they can homeschool their children. Panderbear suspects that, for those in the Religious Right who reject all of these options, the real agenda is to proselytize Christianity in publicly supported institutions. That's contrary to the Founding Fathers' intentions as expressed in the First Amendment.

Panderbear thinks Christian parents have ample opportunity to religiously indoctrinate their children at home and in church without attempting to circumvent the constitution. Never in her 84 years did Panderbear's mother advocate prayer in school. She was a devout fundamentalist Christian, but understood well the dangers to both religion and public institutions of entangling the two in a religiously diverse democracy. She supported strict separation of church and state. Panderbear does too.

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  1. MY concern is government's role in church schools and church hospitals. I think government needs to take a step back here.

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