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School Prayer - are limits excessive?Are the Supreme Court's limits on prayers in...

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xoxoemma | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:11 AM via web

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School Prayer - are limits excessive?

Are the Supreme Court's limits on prayers in schools excessive? Why or why not?


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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:13 AM (Answer #2)

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Not in my opinion.  Schools, and the government in general, have no business prescribing moral values.  They should not be telling us to pray and they should not be telling us how to pray.  Any student may pray at any time so long as they do it quietly.  I do not want any government official telling my children what prayers they must say or what prayers they must hear said.

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xoxoemma | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:17 AM (Answer #3)

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Thank you! I agree with you, I have this essay question in my test tommorow what's the best way to answer the question? 

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xoxoemma | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 20, 2012 at 4:17 AM (Answer #4)

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Not in my opinion.  Schools, and the government in general, have no business prescribing moral values.  They should not be telling us to pray and they should not be telling us how to pray.  Any student may pray at any time so long as they do it quietly.  I do not want any government official telling my children what prayers they must say or what prayers they must hear said.

Thank you! I agree with you, I have this essay question in my test tommorow what's the best way to answer the question?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 20, 2012 at 5:03 PM (Answer #5)

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Thomas Jefferson once stated that the purpose of the First Amendment was to create a "wall of separation" between Church and State.  In that light, the Supreme Court decisions are frankly well within the purview of the intent of the framers of the Constitution. No person should be compelled to participate in any religious observance with which he does not agree; nor should ones taxes be used to support any form of religion which one does not advocate.  Justice Hugo Black once said that the meaning of the First Amendment was clear: "Congress shall make no law means, Congress shall make no law."  From a strictly legal standpoint, I think it safe to say that the Supreme Courts rulings are not excessive.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 20, 2012 at 10:22 PM (Answer #6)

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I do not think that the rulings on prayer are too excessive. IN fact, prayer (itself) has not been "outlawed" in schools; schools simply cannot force students to pray in any school supported activities. Many schools still have a "meet me at the pole" day where students (willingly) gather to pray together. Essentially, it needs to be a decision made through free will. If a student wants to pray, they should be allowed to. The laws still allow this.

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frizzyperm | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted November 21, 2012 at 10:51 PM (Answer #7)

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Students can pray in school if they want to. The Law bans 'official' prayer. In other words, government schools are not allowed to make all students pray in a school-organised prayer. There two VERY good reasons for this.

1) Not all students are Christian.

2) There is a separation of church and state. History is full of religious wars (and the future may be too). In order to ensure a peaceful coexistence for all believers, the church and the state agreed to be completely separate. The church gets one HUGE benefit from this deal... they don't pay taxes. Not a cent. If the church wants to use government buildings to promote their religion, they would have to start paying tax like the rest of us. Churches have absolutely no part to play in government activities, because they don't pay for it.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 21, 2012 at 11:47 PM (Answer #8)

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There needs to be a separation of church and state, and since public schools are run by the state there should not be forced religion in school.  However, I do think that there should be opportunities for kids to practice their religion.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted November 23, 2012 at 7:21 PM (Answer #9)

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The Supreme Court has indeed held that schools cannot mandate prayer, or even encourage it, during school or at school functions. However, the Court has also ruled, most recently in June, that religious groups may use school facilities to have meetings, including meetings for students. So it is hard to say that schools are trying to eliminate religion or prayer. Rather they have acted to prohibit one religious group or outlook from using school time to proselytize. 

Sources:

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted November 26, 2012 at 8:00 PM (Answer #10)

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The latest ruling does modify the application of the original anti-prayer legislation. When first enacted, religious student groups had to find off-campus locations to hold prayer meetings or other club-type events. Now these groups are once again allowed to meet on campus for prayer. While I agree that with an ever increasing level of cultural and religious diversity in America, school dictated or school prohibited religious practice is inappropriate, I do think school facilities should be available for student use if all conduct themselves in civil and respectful manners.

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