This essay is all about going against School prayer.

Essay by JenelleCollege, Undergraduate March 2003

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Public schools exist to educate, not to proselytize. Religion is private,

and schools are public, so it is appropriate that the two should not mix.

Our public schools are for all children, whether Catholic, Baptist, Quaker,

atheist, Buddhist, Jewish, agnostic. The schools are supported by all

taxpayers, and therefore should be free of religious observances. When

religion has invaded our public school system, it has singled out the lone

Jewish student, the class Unitarian or agnostic, the children in the minority.

Individual, silent, personal prayer never has and never could be

outlawed in public schools. It is dishonest to call any prayer "voluntary"

that is encouraged or required by a public official or legislature. By

definition, if the government suggests that students pray, whether by

penning the prayer, asking them to vote whether to pray or setting aside

time to pray, it is endorsing and promoting that prayer. It doesn't seem

right for schools to schedule worship as an official part of the school day,

school sports or activities, or to use prayer to formalize graduation

ceremonies. Such prayers are more "mandatory" than "voluntary."

At the time the U.S. Supreme Court issued its 1962 and 1963 decrees

against school-sponsored prayers and bible-reading, it is estimated

religious observances were unknown in about half of the nation's public

schools. For nearly half a century, the United States Supreme Court,

consistent with this nation's history of secular schools, has ruled against

religious indoctrination through schools (McCollum v. Board of Education,

1948), prayers and devotionals in public schools (Engel v. Vitale, 1962) and

prayers and bible-reading (Abington School District v. Schempp, 1963),

right up through the 1992 Weisman decision against prayers at public

school commencements and Santa Fe v. Doe (2000) barring student-led

prayers at public school events .

Our political...