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Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 06:30 PM

Mods, feel free to move to religion if necessary. I figured that this shouldn't get too deep into church doctrine, but will focus on interpretation of law and personal rights. If it moves into too much religion talk, I get that it needs to be moved :)

I'm doing a paper on prayer in public school, and wanted some insight. Should it be sponsored? Should it be banned? Should kids be allowed to miss class for prayer? Should schools be able to host clubs like "Fellowship of Christian Athletes"? Do we have a basic freedom FROM religion? Is allowing prayer in school violating freedom from religion? Is not allowing/sanctioning prayer violating freedom of religion?

I'd love to hear everyone's opinion, and I figure this could be a fun debate. Remember, this is for public schools.

59 Replies to Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?

re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 06:32 PM
I think that a 2 minute period of silence, reflection, meditaiton, or prayer would be fine... but having a set prayer that you say would not be ok.

At the beginning of the day it's nice to have a couple of minutes to focus.

I think it's all about how you word it though.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Cienmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 06:46 PM
To me, prayer in public school is a HUGE, flaming no-no. If you want your kid to pray in school, then you take them to a private school. Public schools are just that--public, and the public in our country has the freedom to practice any beliefs they want, including agnosticism and atheism. In order to successfully respect ALL those beliefs, you can't pray in school. It's "respecting all beliefs"...except agnostics and atheists, which means it's not actually respecting all beliefs.

So basically: No, prayer does not belong anywhere in public schools.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Chaconnemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 07:03 PM
I'm with CienPorCento on that...and as of 1962 so is the US Supreme Court.

The court did relent somewhat in allowing bible clubs as an after hours activity...something I would not allow were I on the court.

A public school is not the proper venue for religious activity. For one they are far too diverse (even moreso in recent years) to please every religious faction. Each religion provides ample opportunity outside of school hours for instruction in their own doctrines or they actually provide their own school systems. Parents have that option.

Even in the 1950's when I went to public schools and we did have some quasi-religious events in a system wherein all but a handful were at lest nominally Christian. At the end of each week we broadcast over the Public address system a musical setting of the Aaronic Benediction ("The Lord bless you and keep you....") which did cut across the Christian/Jewish fault lines...we typically had no more that 4-5 Jewish kids in the school at any one time out of 1500. But then we got some Far Eastern exchange students, totally out of that tradition. We otherwise had nothing which would be construed as worship aside from perhaps an invocation by a local clergyman at a graduation ceremony. I would find that objectionable today.

I do subscribe to a Protestant denomination and I supported the religious education of my kids and now my grandkids...and the proper place for that is at our church.

Jon
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By LlamaLlamaDuckmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 07:05 PM
I personally feel religion belongs in 2 places... home and church... plain and simple.

I do think my idea would work though, 2 minutes of silence to do what you please in your own head... if that is prayer so be it.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 07:22 PM
Edited by Heart (21721) on 2010-02-23 19:23:43
No school-led prayers. No designated prayer times. Designated "moments of silence" are okay as long as students are allowed to do whatever they want in that silence (including finish their homework). My middle school had one minute of silence before the start of homeroom briefly, but it quickly resulted in a minute of the atheists finishing all their homework and was soon scrapped.

I do not thing clubs like the "Fellowship of Christian Athletes" should be allowed and it BOGGLES MY MIND that they are.

Individuals can pray in school - students can pray over their food or in between classes (not during classes) or whatever. GROUP LED prayers are what is not allowed, because when a government employee is leading a prayer it means the government is sanctioning/favoring that religion.

I'm too lazy to cite the Constitutional/court doctrine basis for those; let me know if you want it.

Constitutionally we have freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion. (Unfortunately, sigh, I wish the Framers had more foresight.) France, for example, has constitutional freedom FROM religion (this is why they can forbid headscarves in public schools). We Americans cannot restrict religious expression, but the government (and by extension, schools) cannot favor one over the other (or having one over having none).
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 09:09 PM
Ok, so here's my issue. Maybe one of you can help me. We're doing this essay as an example of Toulmin Argumentation. This means that my thesis statement, which I want to essentially say "Religion has no place in public schools," needs to have a qualifier in it. For those of you who aren't currently suffering through English 102 and learning this crap, a qualifier is used to make you sound more trust worthy, and includes words like "but, except, usually, sometimes,etc." I have no idea how to do this...any thoughts on how to combine the two? For the rough draft, which is due tomorrow for review, I'm just kind of BSing it :?
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Cienmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 09:22 PM
If you HAVE to have a qualifier, I'd go with the moment of silence idea: something like "Religion has no place in public schools except when that place is manifested by a moment of silence that can be observed or not observed in any way the students wish."

If you really don't believe in that, though, and you can get away with saying you DON'T think religion in public schools should be allowed, no exceptions, I'd do that.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 09:50 PM
Religion has no place in public schools except when used in an educational tool?

For example, try teaching the Puritans and origin of the American colonies, or the Thirty Years War, sans religion. You need to talk about religion to explain a lot of things in history. You can even study other religions to gain a cultural perspective, and so on. Understanding religion is important, practicing it (within the bounds of a public school) isn't.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By AlwaysOnStagePremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 10:14 PM
My school had a Fellowship of Christian Athletes with the stipulation that while it was held on school grounds, it would be during 'non-school hours' meaning usually before morning workouts for those athletes or way before school. They usually got done 30-20 minutes before school really started. I felt this was an acceptable compromise, because it was completely extra curricular and really had nothing to do with the school except the community that prayed before the day happened to be on a school team.

However, anything where students are forced to attend is a no-no. IE: Between the beginning and ending bells. That's a non-religious zone. If students want to group before or after on their own and do their religious things, then have at it.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:18 PM
Why should a public school sanction a religious group though? In the issue of fairness, they would then have to support any religious student group. Wouldn't it make more sense to make sure that there was no religion outside of the academic(history class, social studies, etc. where it is necessary to at least mention the roles of religion), leaving all religion to be practiced privately and off school grounds?
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By GypsieFreemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:20 PM
Edited by GypsieFree (152616) on 2010-02-23 23:22:26
NO NO NO NO NO.
Just no... 100% no. This is NOT a christian country. This is NOT a catholic country. This is NOT a jewish country. This is a country with FREEDOM of religion... Having a period of time dedicated to prayer is only going to shove it in kids faces even more.

Just no. hands down.
If you want your kids to be surrounded by religion all day at school, send them to private school. Thats really all I have to say
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By panicmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:40 AM
When a school allows a group like Christian Athletes, the school does usually pay a stipend to the club's sponsor. It's not much (prolly like $500/year), but it's a consideration. Anyway, athletics has NOTHING to do with Christianity, so I find the entire concept absolutely stoopid and also a tad isolationist. What if a jew wanted to join the club? Or an atheist?


I have no problem with religious studies in public schools. It's impossible to study history, politics, arts, etc without discussing religion. But I think proselytization should be off limits, and that would exclude the Christian Athletes Club.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By moara
On Wed Feb 24, 2010 02:20 AM
I was part of a prayer group in high school, that met before homeroom for 15 min or so. I fail to see how we were harming anyone. Most people didn't even know we existed.

I was also attended a christian fellowship that met during lunch once a week. Outside of letting us use a classroom, and approval for posters announcing events, the school itself had nothing to do with it. I fail to see a significant difference between a bunch of students who love chess meeting, and a bunch of students who love Jesus.
It was mostly christian students who met to have discussions about the bible, but anyone was welcome. We had a debate once on creationism, and a bunch of our more scientific atheist friends came out. It got quite heated, and was a lot of fun, and really helped me to form my own thoughts on the topic outside of the dry facts we learned in class (I went on to become an evolutionary biologist).

students can pray over their food or in between classes (not during classes)

I pray during exams like crazy ;)

I don't think you can really stop individuals from praying ever. That goes way beyond restricting freedom of speech, and gets into Thought Police.

Group led prayer, though, I think is different. I wouldn't want anyone representing the school leading the students in prayer because I don't assume the school is Christian. I wouldn't want to participate in a Muslim or Hindi or Baha'i etc. prayer, so I can definitely empathise with someone who wouldn't want to participate in a Christian one.

I do think it is appropriate to have (for example during our Remembrance Day ceremonies) a moment of silence to give the opportunity to pray for those who would, and a moment of solemn remembrance for those who wouldn't.

Why should a public school sanction a religious group though? In the issue of fairness, they would then have to support any religious student group.


That's the option I support. I think that if a group of student's of any religion wants to get together, the school should support it as much as it would any student club.
When you're a student, so much of your life revolves around school, and most of your forms of expression a routed through that location. I think that meeting with a group of like-minded people is an important part of finding out for yourself what you beleive, outside of your parents influence. That's a large part of growing up, outside of just learning the facts.

I don't like the arguement of "if you don't like it, don't go to public school" because public schools are paid by my taxes. Sending your kids to a private school essentially amounts to paying tuition twice, which the vast majority of people can't afford.

BTW, I'm Canadian, so take my opinions come from a slightly different political and cultural background than most on this thread.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By RileyA
On Wed Feb 24, 2010 04:04 AM
I am from Australia and religion is a part of public schools. All schools offer christian education but kids are not required to take it. Parents can write a note to exempt their child.

No one complains, it works well.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Wed Feb 24, 2010 04:10 AM
My (public, supposedly non-demoninational) primary school not only had a Christian school prayer spoken aloud every week, but we also had a set Religion period (also Christian - Anglican?) every Wednesday morning. I remember the Catholic students, the minority at the time, always being herded off to a separate room.

My (also public) high school had set Religion time. For the first three years it was 'straight' Christian which didn't go down so well for some of the Jewish girls, who weren't allowed to get out of it. The fourth year we finally got a teacher who believed that 'Studies in Religion' should really be about religion in general rather than trying to follow any specific religious doctorine, which was much more interesting and bearable. The final two years of high school, 'Studies in Religion' actually became an optional academic subject which I elected not to study (not that it was offered at my school anyway!). There were also some religious clubs at high school who met up in lunchtimes etc, but since they didn't bother me in any way I wasn't bothered by them.

In retrospect, I wish everything had been like my last two years of high school. In a public school, I feel religion is an OPTIONAL, INDIVIDUAL choice and shouldn't be enforced on anyone, particularly not impressionable young people.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By dancemomtoo
On Wed Feb 24, 2010 04:59 PM
The Department of Education (DOE) guidelines specifically address the Equal Access Act, which established the right of secondary school students to have Bible Clubs on their campus. Here is how the guidelines interpret the Equal Access Act:

"Student religious groups at public secondary schools have the same right of access to school facilities as is enjoyed by other comparable student groups.1 This applies to all schools that meet the requirements of the Equal Access Act: namely, any school "receiving Federal funds that allows one or more student noncurriculum-related clubs to meet on its premises during noninstructional time." Such schools "may not refuse access to student religious groups."
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school? (karma: 4)
By Incarnadinemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 10:21 AM
Edited by Incarnadine (15186) on 2010-02-27 10:29:05
Edited by Incarnadine (15186) on 2010-02-27 11:00:20
Edited by Incarnadine (15186) on 2010-02-27 11:02:17
NOTE: “You” is used in the broad, general sense.

Wow, some of you are a bunch of freakin’ fascists.
I actually left this thread and decided it would be best not to participate- but I had to come back because I can’t control myself. Lucky you.

No, people shouldn’t be forced to pray or participate in religious/spiritual activities.
No, religious/spiritual activities shouldn’t be a part of curriculum- UNLESS there is an academic/culturally significant relevance (as Panic pointed out). For example, History or Humanities would certainly discuss religious influences; and would be remiss if it didn't.
NO public schools shouldn’t FUND any religious/spiritual program or club.

But beyond that…people can and should do whatever they want. If you don’t like it… go home and cry yourself to sleep about it [you big, ignorant close-minded, fascist cry baby].

If students want to start a club- which THEY FUND in its entirety- who freakin’ cares? If other students feel; “leeeeft ooooout” they can start their own club which represents their beliefs. Because- give me a freakin’ break- an atheist is going to go home and cry to his mommy because he feels left out of the Christian Club??? That’s such a ridiculous argument; it's actually laughable.

I’m not big on public prayer or joining religious groups myself, but more power to anyone who’s into that sort of thing. Let’s forget Christians for a second (since we all know it’s perfectly acceptable to bash Christians ad nauseum). You do realize, for example, Muslims pray 5 times a day as one of the basic tenants of their belief system? So what? They should have to leave school midday to find a place off campus to hide for prayer so you’re not offended? Or if someone Hindu wanted to do a quick silent prayer before eating in the cafeteria they can’t- because YOU said so? Or if a Buddhist wanted to meditate on campus under a nice shade tree- they can’t because it’s a “public school” and you might walk by and see?

So what!?!? You’re seriously going to pout your lip and stomp your feet about it? Or pee your pants in outrage to having been “forced” to witness such atrocities??? Maybe you'll throw yourself on the ground, pounding your fists and kicking your legs? *snort*


Ignorance and intolerance, I say.
Preventing others from practicing their religion is DISCRIMINATION. It’s not affecting you (Oh, I know “It offeeeeends you” and “Makes you uncommmmmfortable.” Pfffft.) If a religious person is not causing harm or the threat of harm to others in their public practices- then get over it and quite being a tool about it.

“Waaaaah… people are doing religious things within my vicinity and I can see/hear them!!! And even when they’re not doing it in front of me- it bothers me that I’m in the building with them when they’re doing it!!! Wahhhhh Wahhhhh… I’m so offeeeeenddded!!! I’m so uncommmmmmfortable!!!”

Uh, wow- really? Get over yourself.

Congratulations, you sound like a totally neurotic, egocentric douche bag.

P.S.
Yes, yes. I know... this post offffended you. *rolls eyes*
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By panicmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:29 PM
OK but in my school district, it is impossible for students to fund their own clubs. Clubs must have a sponsor, and sponsors must be paid by the school district. Don't know if this works differently in other school systems. And that doesn't count electricity, cleaning, insurance, and other services that are paid by the school for each club.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Incarnadinemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 01:14 PM
Edited by Incarnadine (15186) on 2010-02-27 13:26:49
Ok, so as for funding, I think that would be a matter for simply changing a policy to be more inclusive (allowing for religious groups) while maintaining the policy that a school doesn’t directly fund said club. It’s been a long time since I was in high school but way back then the clubs at our school had students pay dues and/or they funded their clubs via fundraisers (car washes, etc). I guess it all depends on where you live though.

As for the other things… electricity, cleaning, insurance, etc… The school pays those things regardless; and it’s hardly the same thing as a school saying “Hey- Christians are awesome- here’s $500 to start your special little club!” I think the electricity the school pays for an hour to light a room while any club meets is trivial at best and by no means FUNDS the club.

Essentially a club or extracurricular group is meant to enrich a student’s personal growth and social interaction; be it the Chess Club, Softball, Ecology Club or Bible Thumpers United. A school can certainly support personal growth and social interaction via clubs, sports, etc… without directly funding or endorsing the group itself. Supporting the existence and function of a club is not the same as literally sponsoring its existence or sharing the club’s mission/goal.

Personally, I don’t give a crap about chess, softball or even a Christian based club- but I’m not going to throw up my arms because my tax dollars are going to the school keeping the lights on for the Softball team a few hours each week.

For someone to get their panties bunched over the school keeping the lights on for an extra hour each week for a religious group to meet (while being completely ok with the school doing the same for the Chess Club) is merely proof of one’s own pettiness- which is directly fueled by prejudice, intolerance and ignorance.

For what it’s worth, I’d also be open to a school directly providing funds for religious groups- if they allow all groups to exist; with equal funding. So, if the school provided $500 for ANY club to start (including all types of religions and beliefs) that’s totally cool with me too… yes even if Atheists wanted a club of their own. And since someone will say “What about if students wanted to start a club for SATANISTS- would you be cool with that, too?!?!”

Yeah I would; actually.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By kandykanePremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 01:17 PM
My local school has an FCA but I had to look in my daughter's yearbook to make sure it is still active. That's how little it affects me. They used to have an occasional before school prayer time at the flagpole, but beyond that, I don't see them do much.

When I was in school, the FCA led the prayer at football games, but of course there is no longer prayer at games, just the moment of silence that is anything but silent. :?

kk~
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Incarnadinemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 01:18 PM
Edited by Incarnadine (15186) on 2010-02-27 13:19:52
That's weird... it double posted, but with Kandy Kane in between. ha ha.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 01:22 PM
How is a government-run school having a religious club that meets on government-owned grounds and supervised by a government employee not a case of the government sponsoring a religion?

It's not a matter of getting offended; it's the fact that the Constitution, as typically interpreted (or, to rock the legal jargon, correctly interpreted), does not allow it.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Incarnadinemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 01:44 PM
Edited by Incarnadine (15186) on 2010-02-27 13:54:44
Edited by Incarnadine (15186) on 2010-02-27 14:07:49
Right- because your intent and motivation is merely to protect [what you perceive to be] the integrity of the framer’s intentions in the writing of the constitution. Come on Heart- you’re never one to B.S. to make your point- don’t start now! :P

I think you’re hiding behind “interpretation” as a means to push your prejudicial agenda.

I do not think the framers intended to be nit picky and petty; nor did they intend to outright attack religion or one’s right to practice their religion of choice- I think they intended to protect Americans from HAVING to be a certain GOVERNMENT MANDATED religion; or being forced to practice/worship a certain religion or suffer from persecution or punitive damage. It’s a matter of “live and let live.”

But you are essentially saying the opposite- “You can’t infringe on my right to not believe in any religion- But I’m going to go out of my way to be petty about your beliefs regardless of whether it actually affects me or not because I just don’t like it.”

You know damn good and well that’s not what the framers meant.
You’re twisting the intention and using semantics to suit your agenda.

Again, I think that if a person split hairs and invents/exaggerates technicalities simply to prevent a group from doing their thing- it’s proof of one’s prejudice not their ability to interpret the intentions of the constitution.

Edit:
I want to see you state here that you honestly believe when the founders of our country talked about separation of church and state they meant that some teenagers couldn’t start clubs at school for [insert religion here].

I don't think they were as hypersensiteive, politically correct and petty as some Americans have become.
re: Time-sensitive: Prayer in public school?
By Heartmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Sat Feb 27, 2010 03:51 PM
Edited by Heart (21721) on 2010-02-27 15:56:16
Edited by Heart (21721) on 2010-02-27 15:58:56
How am I being prejudiced?

I said in my first comment, Americans have freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. I believe that we should have freedom from religion. So first of all, I disagree with the American doctrine and would preferably like it changed; if not, I obviously prefer the strictest interpretation possible - because I think that that interpretation is the most fair. No religious symbols in school whatsoever, no "under God" in the pledge of allegiance; a purely secular state. There's nothing prejudiced about that. It's not saying "religion is bad!", it's saying "the place for religion is at home." No crosses, stars, crescents, flaming chalices, pentagrams, pentacles or spaghetti monsters.

I also never said I believe in original intent doctrine. I don't, at all. I'm more of a textualist, if anything; I believe in the letter of the law as well as prior judicial interpretations. (But if you would like to argue original intent, I would also argue that the Framers would have favored a stricter separation of church and state than what we have now. They feared religion being involved with government.)

Religious clubs are fine if they take place in a church basement, not on school grounds. There are ample opportunities to participate in religious organizations. Restricting schools from having religious groups is not restricting students from participating in that activity. Having a religious event take place at a school - which is run by the government - is a form of the government mandating said religion. By allowing that religious event to take place at a public school, the school (and therefore the government) automatically favors that religion above all others that are not represented.
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