America’s Decline: Banning Prayer in Public Schools
Instructor: Michelle Loudermilk
America’s Decline: Banning Prayer in Public Schools A very controversial widespread issue today is the right to have volunteer prayer in public schools. This issue has been constantly debated for years whether prayer in public schools should be permitted. For more than 200 years, public schools were allowed voluntary prayer. Our forefathers built our nation on Christian values. The first English settlers came to America for the right to freedom and to worship God in their own way. In Colonial America, most schools were run by the churches. The first settlers in America felt that it was important that children learned
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They are forcing society to stop praying in public schools and that is unconstitutional. The First Amendment declares that Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof... (Congressional Digest, 1964). The problem of whether or not public schools may have prayer in schools depends almost completely on two clauses of the First Amendment, often referred to as the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. Even though these two clauses were written into the Bill of rights, there would be no challenge to school sponsored prayer until the mid-twentieth century. The main reason for school prayer wasn’t challenged was that the First Amendment does not actually restrict individual states from making laws regarding religion. After the Civil War and the introduction of the Fourteenth Amendment, it eliminated the ability of the states to, “abridge the privileges or immunities of its citizens” that we were guaranteed in the Constitution (Greenawalt, 2005). It was not until 1962, in the case of Engel v. Vitale, that the Supreme Court ruled that the voluntary prayer to begin the school day was unconstitutional (Congressional Digest, 1964). The decision to ban school prayer became very unpopular in many school districts that they simply disregarded it.
The issue of prayer in public schools is one of the most debated topics in our school system today. There are many arguments against school