This paper discusses the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States with regards to prayer in school.
I attended twelve years of Catholic School. My parents consented to the decision of my enrollment and they knew what was involved. They knew that the study of God and prayer was mandatory. Prayer in school in my case produced and environment of discipline and respect for the teachers. The involvement of my parents and the faculty in the use of prayer was in full agreement. However, my view was not even considered important. My rights had been violated. The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States gives every individual the same rights. One right is the constitutional protection for the free exercise of religion. The second right is prohibition of the establishment of religion by the state. The founders of the constitution recognized the freedom of religion as an important factor in establishing a democracy. They also recognized a space of freedom between the government and the people, whereby the government could not force an individual or group to do something they did not want to do. The government is not upholding their part of the constitution. They are trying to tell people that saying prayer in public school is unconstitutional. In fact, prayer in public school is legal, so is prayer in church and prayer in stores etc… . The area which is not legal is when students or teachers pray when engaged in school activities or instruction. This means students or teachers may pray in an informal setting, such as cafeterias and hallways. They may talk about and discuss problems with religion and their beliefs at that time. A person may come to school early and sit quietly and pray. With the permission of the school a group of students could establish a prayer club. All these things are legal, but what the government is trying to avoid is mandatory school prayer. Mandatory school prayer is illegal and violates the constitution. It would contradict all separation between church and state. If prayer in public school was made necessary the country would most likely be divided. You would have the religious leader ecstatic about the freedom of prayer. Then you would have offended non-believers or believer of other denominations or people who find the government too controlling. With legalization of prayer, would come disruption in the way the government is run. Whereby the beliefs of an individual, like the president or a member of congress, would set goals using feelings and not thinking through the problem. For example, a president with strong religious beliefs would be against anything dealing with moral issues. The ideals of an individual would then be imposed on another. Also the government, in giving permission to a prayer in school, would imply that one religion was better than the another. This could be solved by giving each major religion a prayer and read separately by individuals. School prayer should be decided by the parents and the individual. This way giving more control over what happens to where it belongs. The parents who are religious would not mind if their children recited prayers. These people are Christian leaders or participate in church activities, who like my parents, have brought their children up in a Christian manner. The people who would care are the ones who follow no religious faith. They would find an enforced prayer offensive. This debate will never end and the parents and their children have every right to their beliefs. In conclusion, I feel prayer in a public school should be allowed only on the following conditions: 1. The individuals or groups pray away from others who don’t wish to pray. 2. That the individual or group respect the rights of others by not enforcing them to pray. The same goes for the people who don’t wish to pray. They may not enforce their views upon the others. 3. The government shall not enforce any act or show any disrespect towards the rights of each individual. In following these guidelines prayer in school should be allowed and under the First Amendment of the Constitution is allowed. There is no role for the government in the matter of prayer in school other than to provide a safe haven for prayer. This would produce an environment of peace and respect for others. Instead of hearing about gangs, shootings, and delinquency we would have a majority of well-rounded individuals with a respect for life.