Prayer in public schools has always been a “hot” and controversial topic. It is very emotional, and that makes people passionate about this subject. Prayer should never be included in public schools; prayer in the classroom deviates from the Founding Father’s vision, excludes other religious activities/rituals and ostracizes individuals who do not participate in prayer in the classroom. For generations, children have said the Pledge of Allegiance in school, but many people might not know that the words “under God” were added to this declaration (Gaylor), in 1954. Many consider Atheism as unpatriotic and ‘un-American’ as is communism” (Robinson). This simplistic mind set must have the Founding Fathers spinning in their graves; they saw the danger of a theocracy and created a government specifically devoid of religion, and gave it a mechanism to keep religious motives out of public life: the “wall of separation” between church and state. Forcing children to pray in school knocks a hole in that wall. The purpose of public schools is to “educate, not to proselytize” (Gaylor). Advocates of prayers in public schools say that such prayers are “voluntary,” but Gaylor asks what “5, 8, or 10-year-old could view prayers recited as part of class routine as ‘voluntary’?” They would be embarrassed, teased and possibly persecuted as being “different” if they didn’t go along with the prayer everyone else was saying. Religious observance should be private and personal, while the schools are public, and “it is appropriate that the two should not mix.” (Gaylor). Schools should remain neutral so that all children feel welcome (Gaylor). “The schools are supported by all taxpayers, and therefore should be free of religious observances and coercion” (Gaylor). It is the duty of parents and churches to instruct children in religious matters; that duty does not fall to the public schools in any form, and encouraging prayer in schools “usurps the rights of parents” (Gaylor).
Cited: “Anti-School Prayer Position.” ITVS. Retrieved March 13, 2009, from
Gaylor, Annie Laurie. “The Case Against School Prayer.” Freedom from Religion Foundation.
1995. Madison, Wisconsin. Retrieved March 13, 2009, from
Robinson, B.A. “The U.S. Pledge of Allegiance.” Religious Tolerance. Retrieved March 13,
2009, from http://www.religioustolerance.org/nat_pled1.htm