QUESTION: What are some arguments for prayer in school?
There are many arguments supporting the view of citizens who favor the return of prayer to public schools.
Prayer in school is constitutional and supports the principle of freedom of religion on which the U.S. was founded:
In banning school prayer, the U.S. Supreme Court has misinterpreted the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. A simple and voluntary school prayer does not amount to the government establishing a religion, any more than do other practices common in the U.S. such as the employment of Congressional chaplains, government recognition of holidays with religious significance such as Christmas or the proclamation of National Days of Prayer.
In banning school prayer the U.S. Supreme Court has mistaken the principle of “freedom of religion,” guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, for freedom from religion and any observance of it.
School prayer would allow religious students the freedom to observe their religious beliefs during the school day. The U.S. Supreme Court has urged school cooperation with religious authorities for “it then respects the religious nature of our people and accommodates the public service to their spiritual needs.”
Prayer in school acknowledges our religious heritage.
Our country was founded by people who believed in freedom to practice one’s religion openly and who used their religious beliefs to create the backbone of this nation. Our children should be able to participate openly in this great heritage, seeking help, strength, and endurance from God as did their forefathers.
Our system of education also has a rich spiritual heritage. Of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 were distinctly Christian, including the first, Harvard University, chartered in 1636. In the original Harvard Student Handbook, rule number 1 was that students seeking entrance must know Latin and Greek so that they could study the Scriptures: "Let every student be plainly instructed and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life, (John 17:3); and therefore to lay Jesus Christ as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."
Prayer in school offers many societal benefits.
School prayer would instill moral values. Schools must do more than train children’s minds academically. They must also nurture their souls and reinforce the values taught at home and in the community. Founding father Samuel Adams said, "Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity. . .and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system."
The public school system is tragically disintegrating as evidenced by the rise in school shootings, increasing drug use, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and HIV transmission. School prayer can help combat these issues and is desperately needed to protect our children.
School prayer could lead to increased tolerance and less bullying in school since it can instill a sense of right and wrong and a love for others above oneself.
School prayer will promote good citizenship. Founding father John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." The founding fathers believed this should be taught in school. George Washington stated, "What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ."
School prayer may cause students to acknowledge a power greater than themselves on which they can rely for comfort and help in times of trouble. This will lead to decreased reliance on drugs, alcohol, sex, and dangerous amusements as well as decreased suicides.