Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Is school prayer permitted?

Yes. What is prohibited is state-sponsored school prayer. But would you want the state to sponsor a teacher in leading her class, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, in the Hail Mary?

Of course, there could be a rule that would make sure that school sponsored prayers be generic prayers. I don't pray generic prayers. Do you?


Peter Sean Bradley said...

On the other hand, according to, I think, William F. Buckley, Jr., there was not much of an outcry when teachers led students in the Protestant version of the Lord's prayer. There seemed to have been the sense that default position should be with the majority, and that the majority should not press too hard.

That isn't argument for school prayer, but it is recognition that there once was a tolerance in the true meaning of the world that doesn't seem possible in our too easily injured culture.

B. Prokop said...

I personally can't recall ever praying in school - not once. And I entered the First Grade in 1957. So even before it was "banned", it apparently was never a universal practice. (I do remember a moment of silence following the news of JFK's assassination.)

How about other people of my age? Did any of you ever have school prayer?

mattghg said...

No, I don't pray generic prayers.

toddes said...

I don't remember class prayers but I do remember event prayers, i.e. Pep rallies, footbal games, band and choir performances, graduations, etc.

But I do not remember there ever being a generic prayer. There was always an invocation of the Father or of Christ.

finney said...

how do you sponsor a prayer?

Victor Reppert said...

From the Wikipedia entry on Engel v. Vitale:

The case was brought by the families of public school students in New Hyde Park, New York who complained that the voluntary prayer to "Almighty God" contradicted their religious beliefs. They were supported by groups opposed to the school prayer including rabbinical organizations, Ethical Culture, and Judaic organizations. The prayer in question was:
Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.
The plaintiffs argued that opening the school day with such a prayer violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (as applied to the states through the Fourteenth), which says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." The governments of twenty-two states signed on to an amicus curiae brief urging affirmation of the New York Court of Appeals decision that upheld the constitutionality of the prayer.[1] The American Ethical Union, the American Jewish Committee, and the Synagogue Council of America each submitted briefs urging the Court to instead reverse and rule that the prayer was unconstitutional.


Anonymous said...

This is what has always puzzled me. If you are interested in free religious expression, nothing keeps you from praying in school. I cringe when I hear Christians talk of God being "banned" from school or whatever. The issue is and always has been state sponsorship of religion.

If you believe such official prayers are harmless or unoffensive, consider how you (if you are christian) might feel if it was a druid priest giving the prayer (personally, I would be curious to see what such druid prayer would consist in, but it would be odd to have it before the football game or at commencement at a public school.

But does anyone still agitate for bringing back school prayer--I may be out of the loop