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Prayer in School Debate

QUESTION: When did the prayer in school debate begin?


The prayer in school debate began in 1960. When a case was brought before the courts in Baltimore Maryland, a case that centered on the son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair was forced to take part in school prayer. The prayer in school debate centers on the principle that is the separation of church and state. Her lawsuit, combined with the actions of the American Atheist Organization, removed prayer from schools in the sense that it could not be led by any member of the faculty.

Along very similar lines, prayer has been removed in many instances from convocations in public schools. If prayer in school is going to happen, it must be led by students and generally must be silent. The prayer in school debate has grown and the most recent case barred clergy led prayer - invocations and benedictions - at public graduation ceremonies.

Although the prayer in school debate continues to be an issue and has led to the questions on the use of "under God" in the pledge, prayer in schools has continued. It generally must be student led and not faculty led. Some schools have chosen to "ignore" the laws and still have a prayer before sporting events, but that is rare. For the most part, the prayer in school debate is no longer a debate. If a student wants to pray in school, it must be silent and personal.

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