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Since I grew up in Texas, every morning was a moment of silence for prayer. Everyone had to stand up and close their eyes to pray. Whether or not you were actually religious everyone had to participate. Of course, I wasn’t forced to actually pray but everyone had to be respectful of the religious observance. Living in a state dominated by Republicans and Christians, Christianity was pushed on me by friends and family. Even though people have the right to exercise whatever religion they want, they also have the right to not follow any religion.
The Congress does support the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. it does not necessarily allow the right to practice the religion or belief openly and outwardly in a public manner. But it is respectful to let the religious people have their time for morning prayer.
However, why should schools take time out of the day for this private time? Religious freedom is protected under the Establishment Clause And the free exercise clause.
The Establishment clause declares that the government cannot enforce or favor a specific religion and the Free Exercise Clause allows people to exercise whichever religion they want or no religion at all. Since a public school is a government facility, government employees: teachers, principles, counselors, janitors, anyone working in the school, cannot promote any type of religion. Barbara Bernstein, executive director of the Nassau Chapter of the Civil Liberties Union stated that ”The school doesn’t need to get involved.
Children can pray by themselves,” when addressing moments of silence in schools. The supreme court has pursued the challenge to keep young impressionable students from being exposed to religious indoctrination.(Gruson, Lindsey).
Religious indoctrination is when anyone coercively influences a specific religious ideology onto someone that forcibly persuades them to follow that certain religion. This is much like religious extremism like how cults gather followers. In 2009 District Judge Robert Gettleman stated that this form of action “suggests an intent to force the introduction of the concept of prayer into the schools. (Fasciano, Marisa) Schools should not allow a morning prayer time whether it is for prayer, meditation, or a moment of silence, it can make other students feel uncomfortable like myself when I lived in Texas. Although Congress protects the freedom of religion they also protect the facts that you don’t have to belong to any religion. As an example in the Jaffree v. Wallace case, Jafrees sons went to a school where there was a morning prayer time where teachers led “willing” students in a prayer. Even though this moment does not enforce a specific religion, it still enforces people to observe a silence for others to pray. Although the school said that the time could be used for anything jafrees sins felt pressured into the morning prayer because the surrounding students were participating in the act. Also, there were 3 statues that “permitted” this praying time. One statue stated that its purpose was for prayer and meditation, another one had a prayer written on it, and the other was purely a statue.(Oyez)
Sen. Donald Holmes made a statement indicating that the measure was a step in an “effort to return voluntary prayer” to the public schools.(Schultz, David) Many people were upset because they believed that this was “taking God out of the schools,” “hostility to religion”, “the cause of the undermining of school discipline, or the loss of morality in society”.(Schultz, David) People are trying to enforce a religion on to young impressionable students. This enforcement, trickery, chicanery is not protected by the 1st amendment because these students do not have to follow any religion. In an article by Austin Cline, he addresses that the voluntary prayer “exposed them to religious indoctrination”(Cline, Austin) and Supreme judge baker wrote that “the individual freedom of conscience protected by the First Amendment embraces the right to select any religious faith or none at all.”( Baker in Cline, Austi)
So even though the children are welcomed to participate in the moment of silence for voluntary prayer led by a teacher or meditation, they don’t have to participate in anything if they don’t want to. After the debate, the Court decided 6-3 that the Alabama law providing for a moment of silence was unconstitutional. The court decides that ”prayer activities at the beginning of each school day is not consistent with the established principle that the government must pursue a course of complete neutrality toward religion”(Oyez) Another thing that taken into account was the Lemon test of the statues purposes that permitted the prayer activity.
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