Prayer In School

Prayer in school is a hot topic. It is a hot button issue that is regularly covered within and without the blogosphere. I have a number of posts that touch upon or discuss it. I'll provide links to some of those posts at the end of this one.

On a side note I have noticed that virtually every time I have run something about this subject my blog has been dropped from blog rolls. I don't expect everyone to agree with me. I don't need everyone to either. I find it somewhat telling and sad that some people find my position to be so offensive that they no longer want to visit. Mostly it is because they claim to be quite tolerant, but such is life.

The following are just some thoughts from the top of my head. This is not an attempt to prove the intent of the framers as being for or against, although if you want my opinion I think that they were at best neutral about it, if not downright against it. If they wanted the government to sanction prayer in school they would have specifically included it within the Constitution.

I am against organized prayer within public schools. Note that I said organized prayer. In concept, I am not against a moment of silence but I tend to be skeptical about whether people will truly be silent.

My concern about prayer in school is that it can be divisive, exclusionary and that some students may be ostracized because of their beliefs. Our schools should be havens of learning in which no one is targeted because their beliefs do not adhere to those of others. Organized prayer that is sanctioned by the school places these havens in jeopardy and infringes upon parental rights to instill values within our children.

In a Utopian society different views and philosophies are celebrated. However we know from painful experience that this is not the world that we live in. School children are subjected to tremendous social pressure to fit in and while it is noble and worthwhile to teach them to stand up for their beliefs this is not the situation in which to try and do so.

A belief in a particular religion is always rooted in faith that its tenets are true. Faith is the key word in that sentence. You cannot rely upon logic and reason to take you to the place in which an a consensus is reached about faith. This is a big hurdle.

If you note how many denominations of particular religions exist you can see how this exacerbates the situation. I know of Orthodox Jews who see the non Orthodox as apostates, evangelicals who consider Catholics to be idol worshippers etc. If you cannot find consensus among the believers of the same faith you are walking on thin ice.

Earlier I mentioned how organized prayer interferes with parental rights. It is something that I feel strongly about. My biggest job in life is to teach my children how to be menschen. It is a parent's obligation to instill values within our children. It is not the school or societies responsibility to teach them how to become good people. It is mine. This is a large part of why I make time for my kids.

I love my children and want them to be happy. So I provide them with structure, with guidance and with a framework that they can apply to life. The primary set of values is what they receive at home. It is nice for that to be supplemented by the school, but a public school shouldn't touch upon religion for all the reasons I mentioned above. There is strength in plurality.

Posts regarding Prayer in School and similar issues

You Live In A Christian Country- Deal With It
Stop The ACLU Coalition Nonsense
Religion In Schools
Prayer In School- Kentucky High School Shenanigan
Interfaith Relationships- Jews and Christians Misunderstood Again
Southern Baptist Bunk
Air Force Sued Over Religious Intolerance
Appeals court broadens prayer ban in Arkansas school district


Kol Ra'ash Gadol said...

hear, hear.

Stacey said...

My daughter just started public kindergarten here in TX. I think they do have the moment of silence. I think that's ridiculous and unnecessary. They also say The Pledge and the TX state pledge each morning -- and apparently the words "under God" have just been added to the Texas state pledge. Again, unnecessary.

The Babka Nosher said...

Amen! (or you may insert some other non-religious affirmation!)

Alice said...

I'm a religous person and I agree with you. I'll pray anywhere I like. I don't need time put aside.

Anonymous said...

Schools in Canada dropped Prayer in schools when I was a kid. I said the lords prayer every morning until grade 7. I remember one child that refused to say it and was told he could stand out in the hall until it was over. The school thought this was a good way to respect his right not to pray. The next morning he refused to leave the room. When the teacher insisted he leave, another student said "I don't think that is a good idea" Facing general revolt the teacher left the class only to return a few minutes later red in the face. The next day our class was told we would not be saying the lords prayer again. It wasn't until years later I learned that the teacher had gone to the principals office hoping to bring back some authority to insist the child leave. It seems the principal was as much impressed with prayer in schools as you are, this just gave him the justification to stop it. Religion is personal not state sponsored, if this sort of prctice continues then the U.S. has no reason to criticise theocracies like Iran.

Michael said...

It's cliche, but topical:
As long as they have math tests, they'll have prayer in schools.

jill b said...

I guess I think prayer in schools should be a non-issue. If you want a moment of silence, sure whatever - the school district I teach in happens to have one and it honestly reminds me some days to say a little prayer about my day. I love praying as much as the next little Christian gal BUT no one really neeeeeeeeds someone to tell them when to pray or not pray.

We have seperation of church and state - deal with it (not addressed to you, but everyone in general)... It's as good for the church/synagogue/mosque/etc as it is for the state.

As a side note, I wish more parents felt the way you do about instilling morals and values into their children.

Jack Steiner said...


I usually do not hear much opposition to my POV from fellow MOTs.


Texas is a funny place.


I hear you.


That is how I feel.


You make sense.


Quite true. ;)


I have never understood why more parents don't. That is not to say that I am perfect, but...

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store said...

Over here in Germany, religious education / ethics is a mandatory school subject. Education is generally public, private schools often are run by either the Catholic or the Protestant Church and lately there also have opened more and more Jewish schools (those 'religious' schools are free of charge, too; generally they keep a better eye on their staff and on their students though); those "private" schools receive sponsoring from the state (as otherwise the state would have to fully pay for those schools as per German law). At public schools, there usually isn't any form of prayer or morning assembly; religious schools (that have to stick to the mandatory curricula as well) may have religious services on special occasions. Catholic RE is open to students of any faith and degree of observance and the Catholic Church here clearly states that any child must be able to earn a good degree regardless of its beliefs; therefore the Catholic Church bans prayers during RE (they co-operate with the state on the curriculum) and leave those to congregational youth work. Protestant RE is officially not allowed (by the Protestant Church) to admit students of other faiths (their focus is on the gospels), but I've still seen this done a lot at schools as most Protestant RE teachers are ok with it. (Protestants here don't usually discriminate against and differentiate between all kinds of Protestant denominations. We don't have Evangelicals here though.)
Cities with larger Jewish populations (Germany's got the fastest-growing Jewish community these days) usually co-operate with their respective Jewish congregation on Jewish RE at public schools; Muslim communities have claimed the same rights, but often won't guarantee that classes are taught in German and the contents will be within the framework of the German constitution.
As for my stance, I wouldn't subject any child to school prayer as that might make them feel uncomfortable and rather aleniate them from a willingness to express their spiriual needs in a way they enjoy. I'd consider it more important that teachers in their own way of conduct and during class put some emphasis on values that help a society to function well such as honesty, politeness, reliability, responsibility, respect etc.

fashionista cat in a zero gravity shoe-store said...

Oh, BTW, Jack, I can tell you put a lot of thought on and spend a lot of time with your kids; on average though, parents interact with their children for eight minutes a day (no kidding).

Jack Steiner said...

Hi F.C.,

Thank you for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I for one am convinced that government-ordained religious "moments," whether silent or otherwise, in public schools are not merely "unnecessary," but pose a serious danger to our democracy.

The practical results that ensue from endulging the spirit that guides those who defend school prayers, are illustrated in the current, and inappropriate, involvement of Christian evangelists in setting the agenda of a major traveling exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls, with the concomitant belittling of Jewish culture that might one have expected.

For a rather thorough investigation of this scandal, see the articles by Charles Gadda on the Nowpublic site, especially the one entitled "Christian Fundamentalism and the Dead Sea Scrolls in San Diego," to which the link is

Jack Steiner said...

Hi David,

Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

well, i don't really have much to say, but i felt i needed to say something. i like having time to pray, i pray lots of other times anyway, but i still like being with other ppl, telling them my concerns, and knowing they're praying 4 me! when i was in elementary, we would have to get forms signed to say the lords prayer, if some didn't have a form THEY'D stay in the classroom while everyone else went out into the hallway 2 pray. it was a very moving experience to see so many kids all bowing their heads together in prayer.

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