Prayer in Public Schools

An important practice in the lives of many people is prayer. According to a Pew Research survey, more than half (55%) of Americans say they pray every day, with 78% endorsing its importance (2014). Mary, Queen of Scotland believed that the prayers of just one man (John Knox) were a threat to her throne more than all the combined armies in Europe. Just recently, a federal court ruled that Congress could continue to open its sessions each day with prayer. Even Judge Cavanaugh, newly appointed Justice to the Supreme Court gave his opinion concerning prayer in government, “we likewise cannot dismiss the desire of others in America to publically ask for God’s blessing on certain government activities and to publically seek God’s guidance for certain government officials.

Yet, within the classrooms of academia, the right to pray remains a hotly contested debate. While Opponents view prayer in schools as a separation of church and state issue, there are examples that support public prayer; considered a right of free speech guaranteed by the first amendment of the U.

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S. Constitution, embraced at venues like weddings and funerals, and used historically as part of the American landscape. Separation of Church and State According to Bruce Dierenfield, Author of the Battle over School Prayer, The decision in Engel v. Vitale forced the courts to take a closer look at the “wall of separation” between church and state. In this landmark ruling, the majority of the Justices concluded that an Invocation, written for recitation at the beginning of each school day by the board of Regents in New York State’s public School system, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

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Justice Hugo Black wrote for the majority

We think that the constitutional prohibition against laws respecting an establishment of religion must at least mean that in this country it is not part of the business of government to compose official prayers for any part of a religious program carried on by government… The New York laws officially prescribing the Regent’s prayer are inconsistent both with the purposes of the Establishment Clause and with the Establishment Clause itself. The Establishment Clause of the first Amendment to the United Sates Constitution prohibits Congress from passing legislation, respecting an establishment of religion, or what Opponents in Engle vs. Vitale contend was school-sponsored religious indoctrination as a result of the recitation of prayers(Regent) in a New York city school.

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Prayer in Public Schools. (2021, Dec 31). Retrieved from

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