Effect of Prayer in School on Students

“Something’s wrong when kids can get birth control in school but can’t say a prayer in school,” said George H. W. Bush. In making this comment, former President Bush urged American’s to think about how little school boards care about prayer in school, showing priorities are sadly backwards. Walsh, an author that specializes in prayer right’s, insists that prayer should be allowed in school because it is an important part of people’s rights and culture. Many people believe student-led prayer could positively benefit students and faculty in the public school settings.

Unfortunately, many American’s in today’s world believe prayer has a bad effect on everyday life. Many controversial writers have stated that prayer not only affects school hours but also after-school activities. Prayer in school has been defined as many different things. “Prayer is simply a two-way conversation between you and God,” said Rev. Billy Graham Rev. Billy Graham further defines what prayer is in this quote. People believe that prayer in school means that you stop class to pray. However, prayer in school means to have a prayer when students have the pledge or even at lunch before the students eat.

The prayer could either be student-led or a teacher could simply just say the prayer. It also can be as simple as saying the pledge, or they can put their heart and soul into it. Prayer can mean something different to each person but it is better to give the students the option to find out what prayer means to them. Prayer, in high school sports, has raised concerns from those wishing to ban all forms of religion in our schools. “Pre-game prayers at private school sports events have consistently been held by courts not to violate the Establishment Clause because private schools are not “state actors”.”(Green, Lee, 2016, p.1)

Lee Green, J.D. tell us in his article that one of his coaches refused to comply with a request from district officials to discontinue participating in pre-game locker room prayers and on-field, post-game prayers with players. These kinds of prayers are usually student-led. Lee Green, J.D. describes on the NFHS website that in 2015, the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) denied a request for Cambridge Christian School and University Christian School to offer a pre-game prayer, through the use of the intercom, before the Florida 2A state Championship football game. An interesting observation, with this example, was that the schools were both religious schools. One of the reasons the schools were not allowed to pray was because they were playing at a state owned facility. Typically, the majority of the attendees at the games, where both teams are religious, have religious backgrounds. The top issue in the debate about prayer in school is allowing prayer in the classroom. “Classroom prayers have been off limits since the U.S Supreme Court’s school-prayer rulings of 1962 and 1963.”(Walsh, Mark, 1966, p.1)

“Congress has tried to protect the issue of student-led prayer by amending the Constitution.”(FIND AUTHOR) Currently there has been no further advancements on this topic. Congress proves, time and time again, that they struggled to get anything accomplished on this delicate topic. Prayer can teach students new skills in and out of the classroom. The NYLN website believes that students will be able to learn humility and discipline, in the classroom or anywhere, by saying a prayer. “Law is all about reading and writing.”(Imperatore, Paul, 2013, p.1) If law is taught in schools why is the Bible, or Quran, not considered to be appropriate for school settings as each religion has their own “law”. Different religions believe that their book of “rules” they follow and their followers think of it as their god’s law. In situations like these faculty and students benefit from being allowed to pray. The students have always had the right to prayer but the teachers need their opportunity to share their faith.

Prayer in the classroom is a huge topic of interest but there are many benefits that effect the students and faculty. As research came up on this topic, the findings were very interesting to the side of the argument that the thesis above proves. “It is said that prayer in public schools can provide societal benefits. According to those who support the policy, the increasing rate of abuse and violence in schools can be curbed.”(NYNL, 2016, p.1) Religious rights are important to students all across the globe. In a report done by KNOE 8 News, students at West Monroe High School were given two options: ‘Yes, I would like a student-led prayer at graduation’ and ‘No, I do not want a prayer at graduation.’ The big controversy about this report was when the effects of the survey would take place. They never switched their student-led prayer rule and the students just assumed the answer came out as a no.

The students felt as though there rights were being violated when they had to choose if they wanted prayer most assumed it was just part of their graduation. Later the same school was issued with a lawsuit about religious rights being violated. This lawsuit was a huge wakeup call for many other schools. Students feel as though they are being neglected and forgotten if you do not ask for their opinions. Faculty and students are learning together what it means to allow religion into our school systems. Students and faculty should be given the choice to conduct prayer in their schools because they are the main people being affected.

The separation of church and state is a big issue in today’s modern world. Many people, who are not in school, think that the separation of church and state is an important issue to argue. “It uses up time that should be spent on education. Critics say that the time that should be used for something educational is somehow being used up in prayers.”(NYNL, 2016, p.1) Everyone is so diverse in their religious backgrounds that it’s hard to generalize all the religious viewpoints. The statement, separation between church and state, made by Thomas Jefferson in 1802, makes it clear that the separation regarded government which would not allow people how to establish a national religion or how to worship a particular God. In today’s schools we have many rules about who can pray and when.

Faculty and Students are learning more and more each day about the separation of church and state. “The Court’s decisions enforcing a separation between public education and religious observation under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment provide a useful context within which to test the prevailing models’ predictions that the Court will be ineffectual when faced with public and governmental opposition.”(Goldsmith, L. M., & Dillion, J. R., 2015, p.1)

Although some lawmakers still support the ruling of the separation of church and state, there are others that argue that studying prayers in school would allow students to learn a church’s perspective. This can also help them develop their own moral compass in the future. In schools’ there are more than one religion allowed. Public school officials struggle with students violating the Constitution. They have started to allow students to have student-led prayers over the intercom in some schools. This is very much frowned upon by the courts.

The Constitution states that prayer is being ruled as a bad influence in schools. When people hear about the debate, on prayers in school, one religion comes to mind. It’s Christianity! There are many religions and people believe all religions have a fair chance at getting their prayer in classroom. The audience of my topic understands the huge controversy between prayer in school and prayer in school for Christians. The big issue is not just for the Christians to worry about. Shintos, Jains, Confucius, Babis, Jews, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims should all have equal power to convince people that their prayers should be allowed.

Each of the religions above have been fighting for the same thing for many years, we all want equality in schools, at work and even in our own backyards. Most people think that the only religion that matters is Christianity, but this is not the case. My authors believe that the Constitutional rulings apply to every religion. It does not matter if you are a Jew or a Muslim the rules still apply to everyone. Knowing that religion is not subject to only Christianity and can further benefit the students and faculty to exspress their beliefs. We can help prevent pre-teen pregnancy but yet we try to prevent people from praying in our schools. For this and many other reasons, schools should allow student-led prayer. Prayer in schools could make any needed changes to our school system and the students involved in it.

Not having prayer in schools is a big reason why there is violence in the schools. Schools shooting, dropouts, and teen and adolescents sexual activities have been affecting students all across the globe. If the students were able to express their religion they could then feel free to be themselves. We are ensured by the First Amendment, opportunity of religion, in this way we should permitted to utilize it at whatever point and wherever we wish. We should not need to live where we walk around frightened to share faith. Our country was established on the opportunity to openly recognize a god’s presence. Permitting prayer in schools will enhance, not take away from this.

Works Cited

  1. Campbell, K. E. (2003). Senator Sam Ervin and School Prayer: Faith, Politics, and the Constitution. Journal of Church & State, 45(3), 443–455. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere.
  2. Di Masco, A. (2015). Prayers, Petitions, and Protests: The Catholic Church and the Ontario Schools Crisis in the Windsor Border Region, 1910-1928. Catholic Historical Review, 101(2), 393–395. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere.
  3. Goldsmith, L. M., & Dillion, J. R. (2015). The Hallowed Hope: The School Prayer Cases and Social Change. St. Louis University Law Journal, 59(2), 409–459. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere.
  4. Green, L. (2016). Prayer, Religion-related Activities at School Athletics Events. National Federation of State High School Association. Available at: https://www.nfhs.org/articles/prayer-religion-related-activities-at-school-athletics-events/.
  5. Hassanein, R. (2018). Louisiana School District Asks Students If They Want Prayer. Church & State, 71(5), 12. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere.
  6. Imperatore, P. (2013). Solemn School Boards: Limiting Marsh v. Chambers To Make School Board Prayer Unconstitutional. Georgetown Law Journal, 101(3), 839–860. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere.
  7. NYLN.org. (2018). Prayer in Public Schools Pros and Cons List. Available at: https://nyln.org/prayer-in-public-schools-pros-and-cons-list.
  8. Walsh, M. (1996). Without a prayer. Education Week, 16(9), 30. Retrieved from Academic Search Premiere.