Why do some CHRISTIANS want to mandate prayer in public schools?

Doing so would force my child to adhere to the behavioral standards of the Christian faith (i.e. personally addressing the Abrahamic "deity" and the "messiah" Jesus with reverence).

Why is it acceptable, according to those who want "prayer back in school", for a secular insitution like the public education system to require children to participate in such a religious observance? How is it not a violation of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom, if/when the government sanctions a practice which requires ALL students to recognize and "communicate with" a religious concept, namely Yahweh?

After all, government mandated prayer in public schools fails the Lemon test, so what possible valid arguments might there be to require children to pray to God during their public schooling? Isn't it my right as a parent to choose NOT to raise my child as a Christian? Why should the public schools be able to interfere with that?



And who didn't expect a few people to turn this into some sort of partisan bickering? This isn't about "liberals", folks... and it's not about "but there'd been prayer in schools for sooo long!". Just look up "religious freedom" and "Lemon test". Go ahead. I'll wait.

Update 2:

User "odds10to1", just because you think it'd be "good for kids" doesn't mean it would be CONSTITUTIONAL.

Update 3:

Get a Grip, it doesn't "inhibit" religion. It's an individual's right to observe certain religious rituals and obey certain standards, but it's not the government's right to enact laws that would require EVERYONE to worship in the same way (or to worship at all). By mandating school prayer, the government would INHIBIT my child's right to have the government keep it's nose completely out of his religious preferences and observances.

And by the way, kids can still pray or "do what they need to do" to stay "true" to their faith so long as it doesn't significantly deter from the educational atmosphere. Again, individuals enjoy that freedom. It's just not constitutional for the government to require my child to pray to any god.

Update 4:

P.S. When I say "it doesn't inhibit religion", what I mean by "it" is "not allowing the government to sanction prayer in public schools". Thought I should clarify to avoid confusion.

Update 5:

Get a Grip said: "It seems evident to me you are forcing your belief, or lack of onto a child that may well have their own thoughts."

I don't know why you'd come to that conclusion. What I've said is that I'm not raising him to be a Christian and that I want the government to keep it's nose out of my child's religious preferences and observances.

Not once did I indicate or intend to indicate an intention to "force" my child to "not believe" like me. I'm not going to raise him as a Christian... I'm also not going to raise him as an Asatruar, a Hindu, a Muslim, an atheist, a Wiccan, a Satanist, a Buddhist, etc. I've answered this kind of question several times: "Atheists, how will you raise your children?"

Basically, when he asks questions, I'll help him answer them as objectively as possible and if he asks MY opinion, I'll give it to him as rationally as possible.

Update 6:

P.S. I shouldn't be put in the position to feel that home schooling is my only viable option; if the public education system ever does completely disregard the First Amendment and institutes mandated prayer, it shouldn't be "allowed" or "ignored". It DOES matter that religious freedom is disregarded and no one should have to either "live with" such an injustice or remove their children from the corrupt system completely.

46 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favourite answer

    I cannot really speak to other people's motivations. I can only speak to how it looks to me.

    Considering that public school kids can already:

    * pray when not engaged in school activities or instruction, subject to the same rules designed to prevent material disruption of the educational program that are applied to other privately initiated expressive activities. Among other things, students may read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, and pray or study religious materials with fellow students during recess, the lunch hour, or other noninstructional time to the same extent that they may engage in nonreligious activities.

    * organize prayer groups, religious clubs, and "see you at the pole" gatherings before school to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities groups. Such groups must be given the same access to school facilities for assembling as is given to other non-curricular groups, without discrimination because of the religious content of their expression.

    * express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. ***

    it seems a bit much to me to also insist on prayer time in class.

    If a child cannot pray without all the other kids in class praying with him or her, there's a problem, and it isn't with the schools.

    If a child needs the whole classroom to be silent in order to pray, there's a problem, and it isn't with the schools.

    If, out of all the waking hours of the day, kids need to have *instructional time at school* as their time to pray, there's a problem, and it isn't with the school.

    IMO, this simply makes parents who want to mandate prayer in schools look like very ineffective parents, or slack in their religious instruction for their kids.

    It shows, IMO, a lack of confidence on the part of the parents involved in their ability to raise their children to pray.

    And I laugh out loud at that. I really do. And I'll continue to point a mocking finger at their ineffectual parenting as long as they try to get mandated prayer back into schools.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Well see I think everyone should have the right to believe and follow what they please, but if a person is really invested in wanting their child to be able to pray in school, they can simply send them to a private school. where its more than likely required anyway.

    Here is how I like to explain it to those who think prayer should be required in schools. What if a school required your child to pray to another deity besides what your beliefs held (such as satan, buddah, or any other in which you didn't believe or approve of). How would that make you feel? This lets people see how it feels from the other side, besides their own. Of course they wouldn't like it and probably would do anything in their part to stop it. I think a child has the right if they wish to pray before a meal or anything, but to be a requirement is another thing.

    See the bad thing about this, is prayer still happens even though it has been removed from schools. I've only been out of high school a few years and I remember having to attend an assembly where the lady actually asked all those that were christian to stand up. Then she got them to sit down and did a prayer, telling everyone to bow their heads. I think this is the type of prayer that shouldn't be allowed, not each individual wanting to pray for themselves or even a group of people who get together to pray. It's is when it is 'mandatory' or forced upon everyone when it should be disallowed.

  • 1 decade ago

    I am school teacher and a devout Buddhist and believe that mandating prayers in schools is a violation of every persons religous rights including the mandaters. People will hate religous beliefs if it is forced on them hence being bad for the purporters of mandatory prayer. Then theyre are those who do not share the same religion and lets face it, history shows us that they would feel pressured and even might be coerced to participate in prayers. Also different people have different ideas of spirituality and a one size fits all approach is totaly unrealistic and not proper. If one wants to pray privately and or in the company of like minded people that is fine so long as it is not forced on others and not sanctioned by the schools or its staff. Let there be freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

    Source(s): Observation, thought and experience
  • 1 decade ago

    "Why is it acceptable, according to those who want "prayer back in school", for a secular insitution like the public education system to require children to participate in such a religious observance?"

    It isn't. A secular, government institution like the public school system, has no right to require religious observance.

    "How is it not a violation of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees religious freedom...?"

    IMO, it IS a violation of the U.S. Constitution.

    "Isn't it my right as a parent to choose NOT to raise my child as a Christian?"

    Yes, it is.

    Those who want prayer back in the schools are free to take their kids out of the public school system and enroll them in private religious schools where their children can pray and be indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents feel is appropriate. But the public school system -- paid for by taxpayer dollars -- has no business requiring prayer in school or teaching any one religious doctrine to the exclusion of any others.

    Just because prayer used to be a part of the public school curriculum until the 1960's doesn't mean that it belonged there -- just that it wasn't until then that non-Christians were finally able to bring their case to the Supreme Court and convince the Court that forced prayer was unconstitutional.

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  • 1 decade ago

    People try to look for simple ways of solving complicated problems but sometimes just create more problems.

    Some people think that school prayer will make children better or nicer or more Godly.

    Most people think school prayer will infringe on the students' freedom of religion. What kind of prayer is prayed when you have Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Agnostics, and Atheists in the same classroom?

    It is unreasonable to compromise everyone's values to come up with some bland prayer that will be acceptable to everyone.

    The Catholic Church agrees with the U.S. Constitution as currently interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court and does not support "structured" prayer in public schools.

    In the Vatican II document, Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae (Human Dignity), the Church states:

    The human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.

    Children will continue to privately pray before tests just like they always have.


    With love in Christ.

  • Ramjet
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    As a Christian, I actually DO NOT support mandated prayer within the public school system. Our societies (yours: US, mine: Canadian) are far too diverse now and becoming more so every day.

    I DO believe, however that different religious groups should be allowed to have gatherings or meetings / clubs within the schools - without fear of persecution or censorship. I also believe that teachers should be allowed to freely express their faith(s) by being able to enjoy being a part of these clubs or meetings - even chairing them if they so wish. I also think that anyone should be allowed to join the gatherings. How else is education suppose to happen if dialogue does not take place.

    In my daughters' high school, there is the widest range of ethnic groups represented in the entire region. Their cafeteria displays every flag of every nation that is represented within the school. To date, there are well over 100 flags dispayed. My daughters are really enjoying their experience at the school, and are happy to have a Christian club to which they belong. The club is chaired by a teacher at this point. This is a very fortunate occuance in our area. There are other clubs within the school as well.

    Here is a different perspective however: my older daughter is taking a "world religions" course and has recently had a yoga instructor come into the class to talk about her craft/routine.

    The instructor told the students that basically members of EVERY religion in the world practiced yoga. I have to say that this alarmed me. I understand that she was trying to point out that many people practice yoga, however she appeared to make it very clear that within these religions IT WAS OK to do this basically "because everyone does it". Is what she said true?

    She also gave the kids as demonstration and had them participate - and later asked them if they "felt the heat energy eminating from atop their head" or something like that.

    Here's where the issue comes in. I understand that there should be instruction in the various religions, but here we have a demonstration taking place in which the students participated. What if a Christian Pastor to come in and demonstrate the last supper? or a Islamic cleric come in and had the students participate in kneeling and bowing in prayer to Mecca? This, of course, would be very unacceptable to many families.

    Teaching world religions should involve instruction / history only. I believe most parents of ANY religion would agree with me that paricipating in the ritual should not happen within the classroom under any circumstance.

    blessings (((((zero)))))

  • 1 decade ago

    It's just yet another way of proselytizing, and yet another way to show their intolerance of other peoples' beliefs.

    Also, they don't seem to understand, or in some cases, choose to blatantly ignore the First Amendment and the Separation of Church and State. The government has no right to require religious participation. Many schools do offer clubs for Christian children, and I think that is ok, as long as the religion is kept within the confines of the club.

  • Truth
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Because they don't understand Jesus' words in Matt 6

    5"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    They also don't trust that God is big enough to touch people's hearts without their interference. They haven't read the history books to see that countries with a state sponsored religion (England, Spain, Scotland, Germany) are terribly secular while countries where religion is a personal right and a personal responsibility are maintaining. Where the church is growing is in places like China where persecution removes the dead wood.

    Source(s): Matthew 6 New International Version
  • I know Christians at the helm of these attempts on your first amendment, are desperate, they will not be in charge when their Deity returns to take his rightful place amongst the living such as you and me. They are his servants, and are not considered worthy and high enough to receive his second coming in the flesh. They are only slaves and property. As you and me are not. We constitute the Flock to Evil.

    When a Public School is ready to betray IT Constitution it is time to pack up your kids and get the hell out of there. For A Time I committed myself to Neutral studies into Nature studies and Natural Phenomenon

    The only reasonable answer to your Why, that I can logically come up with, is that we no longer are familiar with our Planet and Universe as a Natural Habitat for People with common sense

  • I am a Christian, and I don't think that prayer should be forced in schools. I think prayer, religion classes, and other non-secular activities should be OFFERED, so that we have the choice of whether or not we want to participate. Besides, shoving religion down someone's throat is only going to push them away.

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