Public Schools and Religion

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To pray or not to pray-¬Ěthat is one of the questions. This question arose in communities all over the United States when there was a disagreement concerning the separation of church and state. The new question is whether or not this problem has a solution. Many problems throughout the world have no solutions. Humans know there is nothing they can do to fix these dilemmas, but have learned to somewhat cope with these unsolveable challenges. The controversy involving prayer in public schools should not linger in the company of these unanswerable problems. People of the world have many different beliefs, but that should not mean their beliefs are wrong. Similarly, prayer in public schools is a problem among all kinds of people, those of religious faith and those not associated with a religion; however, this same diverse mass should be able to compromise by allowing equal rights on the issue and by permitting prayer in schools in the form of private, quiet time. In other words, give students of religious faith the chance for a "moment of silence" while students not associated with religion can also have their moment for whatever they choose. Citizens of this country have civil liberties guaranteed to them under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Freedom of religion tops this list as possibly the most controversial liberty. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," (Janda, 496). The First Amendment ensures freedom of religion in two clauses: the establishment clause prohibits laws establishing religion; the free-exercise clause prevents the government from interfering with the exercise of religion. These clauses guarantee that the government can neither promote nor inhibit religious beliefs or practices. In this case, there should be no government intervention with the separation of church and state. However, our society is full of many different religious and non-religious organizations, each having its own beliefs. So, by making people who do not believe in the specified religion involve themselves with prayer in schools we are violating the Bill of Rights. Religion is a key component many people, therefore, should be allowed in public schools. For students that claim religion is a necessary aspect of their life, there may be no other way to deal with life's little speed bumps than with prayer while in school. According to the pro-school prayer students, problems at school, starting an assembly feeling the need for a greater presence, or just making their day easier in their mind are all reasons for school prayer. In a telephone interview, Melissa Nowak, a peer coordinator at the Comeau Catholic Campus Center in Hays, Kansas, she stated, "I believe schools should acknowledge some time for students to express their personal choice of reverence and devotion to their god. In past years, when prayer was included in state public school systems, there seemed to be less conflicts, such as disciplinary problems." However, critics would say if parents want religion intricate with their child's education, they should send him or her to a parochial school or teach it a home. Forcing students to participate in prayer or concede their rights is wrong. Students that do not believe in prayer should not have to include themselves in the ritual. There is not a single person that would allow his or her rights, as a citizen of the United States, to get walked on or be questioned vigorously. However, lashing out at the opposition is uncalled for. "This is a very controversial issue and as with any controversy, there will be arguing. The fact of the matter is, people should be able to handle this like mature adults and find some sort of compromise instead of pointing fingers and slinging mud at the opposition," stated Jeff Claycamp, a student at Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, in a recent personal interview. If people on both sides of the situation would just relax and work together, a solution to this problem would not seem so unrealistic. The two sides of this argument are clearly defined. Separationists, those who favor the separation of church and state, and accomodationists, those who favor religion in schools, are the labels for the people on each side of the controversy. Separationists are against "allowing government to organize, encourage, or discourage prayer in public schools, using government funds to aid parochial schools, or religious displays on government property when these displays convey government support of religious beliefs," (Position). On the other hand, accomodationists are in favor of all of these issues. The type of people that are willing to somewhat compromise the problem are classified as non-preferentialists. They believe the Constitution allows the government to support the practice of religious beliefs only so long as the as the

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