Religion in Public Schools

Essay by David GlasmanHigh School, 10th gradeA+, September 1996

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Religion in Public Schools

" Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof......" according to the First Amendment of the Constitution. This idea of freedom of religion has been stated very clearly, but it also raises questions about the meaning of religious freedom . Should religious expression be excluded from all government activities? Has separation of church and state been violated by the U.S.

Treasury? For example, on the back of every U.S. coin are the words, "In God We Trust". And what about when they swear-in

government officials with a Bible? Why not use the Torah or the Koran?

Is it separation of church and state when Congress opens

each session with a Christian prayer? The following prayer was

recited at the start of the November 30, 1994 session:


We pray, O God, for the bread for the sustenance of

our bodies and spiritual food for the nourishment of our souls.

In a world where much seems to be discouraging and where problems appear at every corner, we pray that the human spirit will not be taught by cynicism or despair, but rejoice in the possibilities of every new day and accept all Your blessings with thanksgiving. Amen.

For some people in the Congress this raises serious questions about when prayer is or is not appropriate. One of the Representatives from Oklahoma made this comment in the Congressional Digest on November 30, 1994: " It was fine for Rev. James David Ford to offer this prayer, yet it is a prayer our children our not allowed to say in school".

Since no amendment has been made allowing or prohibiting prayer, many schools have gone ahead and recited verses from the bible and allowed prayer in class. Another area of...