Carol McCracken
Dr. Pettipiece

English 102, 35646

February 7, 2002

Prayer In School

Prayer in school, necessary or not…No doubt about it, prayer in schools is a controversial issue, an issue that has been debated a long time and probably a long time to come.Gary Bergel, writes in an article titled “Banning Prayer in Public Schools Has Led to America’s Demise” that“On June 25, 1962, 39 million students were forbidden to do what they and their predecessors had been doing since the founding of our nation – publicly calling upon the name of the Lord at the beginning of each school day.”In the Supreme Court Cast Engel v. Vitale, p 422-436 the “’act of leading students in prayer was ruled unconstitutional, even if the prayer was denominationally neutral and pupils who wish to do so may remain silent or be excused from the room while the prayer is being recited’” (Miller, para. 4).Madalyn Murry was one of the main people who did indeed help to end prayer recitation in schools.Twenty-eight years later there was a group of teens who gathered for a retreat.During the retreat they felt burdened to pray for their fellow students.They gathered around the flagpoles of three separate schools to pray.The teens prayed for their friends, the school, and school leaders.God birthed from this the idea of “See You At the Pole.”On September 12, 1990, 45,000 teenagers gathered at the flagpole in four different states to pray before school started that morning.One year later one million students from Boston to Californiagathered at 7:00 a.m. to pray prior to the start of school.This ministry has continued to grow over the last 10 years.Now more than three million students from coast-to-coast and around the world gather to pray one day a year, including some students at Arizona State University.Students not only meet once a year at the flagpoles of their schools but there are more and more school football teams that will gather for student-led and student-initiated prayer at high school football games.This shows that there is a desire to be able to pray at school.The Congress may have removed the time of prayer that was observed during the school day but students have found other ways to include prayer and God in their school day.

Harland W. Miller writesthe three cases in 1962 and 1963 that removed school prayer and Bible reading from our public schools cited no legal or historical basis for their decisions.Without legal precedent or Godly reason, they turned from the accepted Godly norm.This led to the rapid removal of all Christianity from public schools.

Through our actions, our nation began saying, ‘we don’t want any association with the righteous heritage of the United States.’Instead, we have chosen to build our nation upon decadence, deception and violence—we are reaping the things we’ve sown.The only way to see a change in our schools is to welcome God back into the educational system.When prayer is welcomed and God’s commands are placed back on the wall, God will return (Miller, para. 7, 13).

We as Americans and Christians are allowed to pray as much as wewant as long as we do it in church.We can also pray in public places as long as there are no complaints.If there are complaints we can still pray but not out loud.For instance, an opinion article in the State Press spoke of the Virginia Military Institute which had been praying before meals for more than 40 years.Because of the complaints of two cadets the American Civil Liberties Union got involved and now the school is being ordered to discontinue the reading of a pre-meal, non-denominational prayer.Rosie McSweeney, the columnist, writes: “I don’t know if I’d want to be those cadets who complained.Think about it:They’re responsible for taking God off of a 40-year-long invitation list.”According to McSweeney “God has grown accustomed to getting the shaft” (McSweeney, Pg5).

There are people who feel that Christian prayers in the public schools is a way to expose minor children to religion behind their parents’ back and without permission.They feel that it drives a wedge between children and parents, using religion as the driving force.The group that I am speaking of is atheists.They feel that prayer in public schools is an attempt to prey on the immature minds of young children.As far as the problems with violence at schools since prayer was removed American Atheists feel: 

“Prayer is being promoted as a ‘feel good’ quickie-fix to complex problems. The answer to problems might well involve doing other things—emphasize science and math to prepare kids for the next century, smaller class sizes, perhaps even better pay for over-worked teachers.”Often, these programs cost money and take time.They are not the ‘instant solution’ which the prayer-in-school boosters offer. (American Atheists, para. 26).

Yet in a recent news report there was an announcement that a detective of one police force in New York City said the murder rate dropped from 2600 to 600 in the last 10 years due to round the clock prayer and a mayor that God placed there (“News Report”).Therefore, the American Atheists stance that prayer is futile is erroneous.

We ask where God is when tragic things happen in our lives like September 11, 2001.If we as a country do not allow God to be in our lives on a daily basis it will seem as if He is not there when we need Him the most.My God is an all-loving, all-forgiving entity that only wants the best for us.

This issue is something that will be debated until the end of time.There will always be two sides to whether prayer is beneficial in our schools or if it is a waste of time and a “quick fix” to problems that can be repairs in other ways.Although this is not a complete draft of both sides of the debate I do try to give a few points from each side.So until the next person decides to tackle on this issue for a paper, the debate continues…

Works Cited

American Atheists.“FAQ’s About Prayer In Schools.”

<http://www.atheists.org/schoolhouse/faqs.prayer.html>.Jan. 28, 2002

Bergel, Gary.“Banning Prayer in Public Schools Has Led to American’s Demise.”

<http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/X0098_Ban_on_school_prayer.html>

May 1988. 

McSweeney, Rosie. “ACLU bands God, the devil, and fun.”State PressMonday, 

Jan. 28, 2002: page 5.

Miller, Harland.“The Writing is Not on the Wall.”

<http://www.ehope.com/writing.html>.LaVale Christian Center.Feb. 5, 2002

“News Report.” KLOVE, Prescott.2 Feb. 2002.