Prayer In Public Schools

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Prayer in public schools has been a highly controversial issue since the 1960s. Prior to 1962 it was common for a public school to begin its day with a prayer. After the case of Engle v. Vitale in 1962 this began to change. In this milestone case it was decided by the Supreme Court that even "voluntary" prayer in school was unconstitutional. I believe that the Supreme Court was correct in its judgment and prayer should not be allowed in public schools - neither when required nor when "voluntary." Voluntary prayer in school is never really voluntary. Some argue that you don't have to participate in the prayers if you do not want to. But this is never really true. Take a young child who chooses to not join in a morning prayer at the beginning of the school day. Granted, that child will not be punished for participating because the morning group prayer is "voluntary."

But if that child doesn't participate, then he or she has just singled themselves out from their classmates. The other students will first be inquisitive. "Why didn't John pray with us?" they'll ask. "Is something wrong with him?" Then the teacher will explain that John has different beliefs than the others. For some children, that would be enough. But not for all. Unfortunately it has become common for people to fear that which they don't understand. Some kids will act out negatively towards John. They think that he believes that he is better than everyone else. They might push the kid around or tease him for being different. Luckily for me, I was never chastised because I didn't participate in group prayer sessions (my experiences were limited to before football games). But I feel the reason that I wasn't was because I was too...