Do you think that there should be religion in public schools?
My friend sent me an interesting link about the guidance regarding prayer in public schools. I just wanted to share some interesting facts (with my own opinions of course) regarding religion in schools that I found in the guidance.
Prayer in schools is Constitutionally protected
If a kid wants to pray in school, the kid can. However, teachers are not allowed to initiate or join the prayer as that would be seen as endorsing a religion.
If I had a child, I would see nothing wrong with my child praying in school. There are so many religions though, so I can imagine the difficulty when trying to accommodate every religion in an institution such as a school.
School officials must be neutral
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the First Amendment requires public school officials to be neutral in their treatment of religion, showing neither favoritism toward nor hostility against religious expression such as prayer.
Does the above quote mean that a student can just start praying in the middle of class? Probably not seeing as that would be disrupting the classroom.
Teachers are encouraged to dismiss the student temporarily from class if the child has religious obligations.
I imagine it is very tough for a teacher to remain neutral if a child needs to be dismissed because of religion.
Private initiated religious expression is okay.
If I were a teacher and I initiated a Bible study with my students after school, I would be endorsing a religion. Now if a group of kids wanted to use my classroom after school for a Bible study, they would be allowed to do so, but I would be forbidden from participating.
Since the kid is a private individual (whereas I would be a public official), the kid could initiate religious expression on school grounds. As a teacher, I would be forbidden from initiating any kind of religious expression whatsoever (including prayer, Biblical studies, religious encouragement, etc).
Public school officials cannot decide if prayer is present
One example in the guidance was that of prayer at graduation. A school could be seen as endorsing a religion by allowing somebody to pray at graduation. An exception to this would be if a disclaimer was made before the prayer saying that the speaker’s remarks have no affiliation with the school.
I have rather mixed feelings about religion in schools. On one side, I think the kids should do all their religious stuff at home. On the other, I want kids to be able to express themselves freely at school and not have to walk on eggshells. If I were still in school, I wouldn’t want somebody else telling me I couldn’t pray before my meal or join an after school Bible study. I also wouldn’t want somebody forcing a prayer down my throat from a religion I don’t believe in.
So where is the line? Is the line religious neutrality in schools? Is the line no religion in schools? Or is it somewhere else? Please weigh in.