General Question

MattxAmber's avatar

Do you feel religious practices should be allowed in school?

Asked by MattxAmber (110points) August 26th, 2008

What I mean by that is, do you think its ok for students to pray during lunch, and other times of the day?

I think its ok to do so, but many people feel its hitting them in a mean way, and I don’t see how that could hurt someone. Its not like the person who is practicing their religion is forcing it on to you, if someone was forcing their religion on to you, yes, then you could feel uncomfortable.

But if they are sitting there, at a table, desk, whatever, minding their own business and you yell at them for doing that.
Should that be fair?

Just, I didn’t phrase that the way I’d like to, but it’s just how it came out.
What I guess I want to know is, how do you feel about students, teachers, anyone practicing their religion around you?

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74 Answers

Magnus's avatar

It would be nazi to refuse them!

lefteh's avatar

I have no problem with students privately praying during the school day.
There should not, however, be any school-organized prayer in public schools. Optional or not. That would qualify as government endorsement of religion, which, of course, is unconstitutional.

Same reason there is no reference to God on our money, right? And why Congress does not start with a prayer? Wait….

augustlan's avatar

Silent prayer is fine. If everyone else can hear it, and 300 kids join in, and you’re the only one who doesn’t, that’s a problem.

augustlan's avatar

@lefteh: “one nation, under God”, too

buster's avatar

No because sooner or later some kid is going to say he is Satanic and its his right to sacrifice a goat before school at the flagpole.

marinelife's avatar

I feel very strongly about the separation of church and state. I think organized prayer is a problem.

I think someone practicing their faith during a free period is fine.

I think an organized group using school property is ifier unless the school system normally allows all sorts of groups to use school property.

Scrumpulator's avatar

Yes people should be able to practice their religious beliefs in school, after all this is what America was founded on. This is why we live in such a great country. All religions, after all there is a chess club, a debate club, they all sit together and do things, so why can’t Muslims and Christians and Harri Krishnas. The diversity that makes up America is present in our society, and that society makes babies that need to go to school. Most schools are public schools, and in the public we have the right to free speech, so why not free prayer?

nocountry2's avatar

School is a place to study religions, not practice them.

marinelife's avatar

@Scrumpulator Our country was founded on separating church and state to ensure religious freedom.

tinyfaery's avatar

Practice religions in a place of worship. Learn about religions in a school.

I have no problem with a kid saying grace before she eats her PB&J and potato chips in the cafeteria. I have no problem with a Muslim facing east and saying daily prayers. But I do have a problem with federal and state money, earmarked for extracurricular activities, being spent on religious groups. Chess, Debate Club, Amnesty International, are all extracurricular activities that talk about non-religious related stuff (unless of course golf becomes their religion). They receive $ to fund programs, programs that do not have an underlying religious agenda. But if you have a Christian club, the $ tax money they use has a religious connotation, something that creates a blurry line between church and state.

Most places of worship have youth classes/ministries, why not practice religion in these designated areas? Shit, I had Tuesday night teen bible study, Wednesday night choir practice, Saturday community service, and Sunday services, plus more teen bible study. That was more that enough. I liked school because of the new things I learned, not reinforcement for everything anybody ever told me was right.

All that, and the propaganda didn’t even stick. Now I am a vile lesbian on her way to hell. Well, at least that’s what my mom tells me.

augustlan's avatar

@tiny: Does your mom really feel that way? If so, I’m sorry to hear it.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

I think we are a multi-religious conglomerate of states—in these United States of America. Many religions.

I don’t think one religion should be part of the public school….there could just be a 2 minute quiet time to pray to whoever you want—and if you don’t want, that’s fine too—just be quiet.

As for someone saying grace before meals, if they want to fine. Just don’t take my hand and insist I do it also.

Public school would be a good place to learn tolerance of difference.

nayeight's avatar

School is for learning. Period. If you can’t handle it or need pray every 15 minutes, save yourself the trouble and get home schooled.

gooch's avatar

Yes prayer should be allowed in school. Prayer should be allowed anyplace you choose. What’s the difference between free public speech and right to pray publicly.

SuperMouse's avatar

Prayer should not be allowed in public schools. Quiet time for private meditation – yes. But more for older students, my first grader wouldn’t really understand the concept. Group prayers led by an administrator or teacher – no.

@Augustian, “under God” was not added to the Pledge until 1954.

augustlan's avatar

@Super: I know, which is why I don’t understand A) why it’s there in the first place and B) why people get so upset over talk of removing it.

SuperMouse's avatar

Gotcha! I wonder the same things! I found this quote from Eisenhower after he signed the bill adding those words: “From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural schoolhouse, the dedication of our Nation and our people to the Almighty.” If there ever was a blurring of the lines between church and state – that quote is it!

TheHaight's avatar

I agree with Lefteh and the majority. It should be seperate, and it’s better that way. That’s why once you start highschool or college there are a variety of religious clubs you can have the choice to join.

Bri_L's avatar

I always thought about it this way, and I may change my mind as my kids get older. In school our kids will be exposed to drugs, alcohol and peer pressure for sex etc. If the worst thing they run into is a group of kids make them curious about another religion, I am doing ok as a parent.

AND, as most religions practiced are based on peace and love and treating people nice and not cultish castration or satan I am ok with them being curious.

Besides, if they are that easily swayed by a group of kids about religion or any of the other stuff without talking to me or me knowing about it, I am not doing my job as a parent.

rob's avatar

This country was founded based on religious principles. Individuals should have the opportunity to practice their religious beliefs. I don’t think it should be forced on anyone, and I don’t think it should be interrupting anything, but to deny a kid a private moment to bless his food or say a prayer before a test is not only wrong but against the basis that this country was founded on.

delirium's avatar

This country was not founded on religious principals. Not in the least. Most of the great founding fathers weren’t what you could describe as the most christian of men.
Here’s the 1796 treaty with Tripoli which puts on paper that the United States was “in no sense founded on the Christian religion.

That being said, i’m fine with someone saying a silent prayer and having their own private religious moment. What I am NOT okay with is teacher participation and group prayer. Tax money should not be paying for church in school. That’s not what school is for. The word ‘faith’ doesn’t even belong in a classroom, as school is somewhere where one should learn things you don’t have to take in faith.

You can get together with your religious peers in church and have ‘clubs’ there… But don’t have one in a public school. Not only is it inappropriate on the most basic of levels, it also creates favoritism with the teacher who is seeing over the club. I’ve seen it happen before. We got a specific one shut down at my old school because the grades of all the kids in the ‘club’ where suspiciously higher than the grades of the people who were open atheists/jews/etc.

Darknymph's avatar

The constitution says freedom of religion. right? so….

cyndyh's avatar

Freedom from the “establishment” of religion, Darknymph.

Darknymph's avatar

I could agree with you Delirium on some things, but to me it seems like you’re against religion in school, are you a god-fearing person?

delirium's avatar

I am VERY against religion in school. I don’t fear any god. I fear the people, however, who try to assert their religion upon public secular institutions in the absurd deluded notion that they’re ‘rescuing’ something or someone.

As ghandi said: I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Delirium: I agree, and love Ghandi’s quote.

Bri_L's avatar

God, or whomever you follow, is cool.

Those who kill in their name are not. Those who ridicule gays in their name are not. Those who use them as an excuse for anything they do are not.

delirium's avatar

I love it too. I use it way too much.

I’d like to second what bri said.

I’d also like to add that I wouldn’t believe in a god that I had to fear anyways. As Epicurus said.. (I know, more quotes) “Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able, and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him god.”

Darknymph's avatar

So you are an atheist? okay. And i believe religion should be accepted in schools.

Darknymph's avatar

Greetings Don Corleone.

delirium's avatar

I really don’t care what you believe if you’re not prepared to back it up…

Mythology is fine to teach in schools. Religion is Not.

(And I’m an atheist and a secular humanist. Look it up.)

Darknymph's avatar

hey! who says that I have to back anything up, I don’t need to listen to you, and you know I guess wrestle was right about you. and also am i forcing you to follow my wiccan belief? no! And if schools want to teach about religion so be it. it’s nothing wrong with that.

thegodfather's avatar

You’re asking a question that has been debated ad nauseum since the Enlightenment period (1700s) in an internet forum. I don’t think you’re going to get a satisfactory answer. I’m a graduate student of religion and I don’t expect to be able to fully do this question justice in my lifetime. It will be my life’s work to better understand the implications of limiting freedom of religion in the name of separation of church and state and the implications of limiting the separation of church and state for freedom of religion.

delirium's avatar

There is something wrong with it. It’s against the law for a reason. No teacher has any right to press their faith upon any student, no matter how nice they think they’re being.

And if you want to assert your opinion in to a debate setting, you have to be prepared to back it up.

thegodfather's avatar


darknymph actually doesn’t have to back up his/her opinion. That’s why it’s an opinion, it doesn’t need to hold up to any argumentation.

But an argument or conclusion on the other hand does need supporting evidence. Otherwise it’s just an opinion.

Also, your appeal to the law as the ultimate moral authority is fallacious. I’d be interested to see your argument posed in more convincing terms.

Darknymph's avatar

Thank you Don, Respects to you, I rest my case.

Darknymph's avatar

and I’m a she.

gooch's avatar

I might add religion is based on faith. Faith can really be practiced anywhere. No person alive has ever or will ever stop me from praying to God.

Bri_L's avatar

What about speaking to not what “should” be taught but what “can” be. Right now we are having trouble teaching the subjects that are already in school wether its time, money or both.

Bri_L's avatar

I have an interesting side note.

How many people would be a different religion if they were just born in a different part of the world?

delirium's avatar

I don’t care, particularly, if someone wants to pray. I think that’s fine. The problem I have is with the teaching of religion in school.

I don’t consider the common law to be the ultimate moral authority. But I sure consider it to be a better moral authority than the bible.

augustlan's avatar

@Bri: I’ve always wondered the same thing. Most are just born into their religion, and would be a different one with no effort at all, if they’d simply been adopted by parents of another faith.

Darknymph's avatar

Hey what about catholic schools, is that wrong to, princess?

augustlan's avatar

Catholic schools are private schools, paid for by private funds…it makes all the difference.

delirium's avatar

to where?

(and we’re obviously talking about secular public schools.)

Bri_L's avatar

@ darknymph – princess? i don’t understand.

Bri_L's avatar

I know but I still don’t understand.

cyndyh's avatar

I think the point is that you were sounding a bit pissy just because she (I’m assuming delirium is a she. Sorry if not.) was disagreeing with you. There’s just not a need for it, Darknymph.

delirium's avatar

I am a she. Ironically my actual name means Princess!

wrestlemaniac's avatar

You know I had a substitute teacher who tried to force us to be jews, it was funny how he fail, especially when half the class was in our grip. and Delirium, sounds like another word for drunk.

cyndyh's avatar

sally? sarah?

delirium's avatar

I’m not offended, y’know. You’re wasting your time. I don’t drink, anyways.

wrestlemaniac's avatar

ha!! that’s what you say, but we KNOW otherwise.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

I like the way the word, DELIRIUM rolls off the tongue…. I like the word FROLIC for the same reason….

Delirium means==frenzied excitement “he would stride about his room in a delirium of joy”. . . Thomas Wolfe

Darknymph's avatar

Guys, zip it please!

delirium's avatar

:D! Exactly, seeker! Delirium is very much akin to frolic in many ways, actually, imop. I think of it as a playful prancing sprightly thing. Giggling youth. Things of that nature.

Bri_L's avatar

So can we agree at least there is a difference between teaching religion and practicing it in school.

I.e. a teacher leading prayer and a teacher walking through the history of the religion.

If so, could one be allowed?

augustlan's avatar

History of religion is allowed, and I think that’s great. I think a course on comparitive religion helps to broaden one’s mind, and leads to a better understanding of people different than ourselves.

delirium's avatar

Mythology is wonderful to be taught. Its incredibly interesting. It should be in our schools.

Darknymph's avatar

I love mythology.

Poser's avatar

I have a problem with that Epicurus quote. It assumes, first of all, that God’s motivations are similar to ours. Second, it assumes that we can somehow discern God’s motivations. We can’t even really know what motivates those who are closest to us in our lives, and we can sit down and ask them. Often, we don’t even understand our own motivations, and we live inside our own heads. How could Epicurus (and everyone since him who has used this quote) assume to know and understand the motivations of a being which is beyond understanding?

shrubbery's avatar

I think Epicurus is just using the definition of God from a Monotheistic Christian perspective- an all powerful, all knowing and all loving God. He could be saying that to come to terms with the problem of evil then you may have to abandon the traditional idea of God and take away one or more of those three things. But then if you do that, is it a God worthy of worship? That’s how I see it anyway, if that makes sense.

Poser's avatar

But my point, shrubbery, is that in order to try and corral God into those neat, easy categories, one must make the assumption that God’s motivations are the same as ours. Just because we can’t think of any reason that you or I would allow evil to continue, even if we had the means to stop it, doesn’t mean that the only conclusion is that God must be malevolent for doing so. You’re assuming that if God doesn’t do something you think he ought to, He either isn’t all loving, or all powerful, or both. All I’m saying is that we can’t apply our finite definitions to something which, by the definition you cite, is infinite.

shrubbery's avatar

I understand, and you make a completely valid point and if I was religious I would probably agree with you whole heartedly. I was just describing a problem that some Christians have if they go by that definition.
And what you describe is one of the theodicies on the ‘problem of evil’. I think it is credited to Leibniz.

galileogirl's avatar

As a teacher, I often pray, “Dear God, give me strength…” But I prayed in other jobs too. The rule in our school is that a group of students can form religious studies clubs. A teacher has to be present in the room just like any other club, but may not participate. So far they have been short lived, it seemed like students want to test the boundaries but when there is no response, they lose interest. That includes our wiccans. The Islam study group had a different outcome. One guy really organized the thing but all he could get to join were girls, the boys spent lunch in the computer lab. Then he was so heavy handed with the girls, refusing discussion and trying to boss them around, they basically forced him out. After that it was a quick prayer and then teen age girls socializing.

With most teenagers it’s all about getting a reaction. Of course we don’t allow snake handling or importuning other students.

GAMBIT's avatar

The only way religion could be taught in public schools would be to have a class called World Religions 101 where the curriculum would give an introduction to the different faiths in the world. The teacher would have to be a nonbiased atheist who would not try to convert his or her students to any type of practice. This class would have to be more of a history and awareness course. There are 19 major world religions in the world and each would have to be talked about fairly and given the same amount of attention. The question is how many parents would want this for their children? Also how would our children benefit from this type of information? I would think that this kind of program should only be offered to seniors (because of maturity levels) whose parents agree in writing that this is a class that they wanted for their child.

galileogirl's avatar

Actually the AP World History curriculum (10th grade) includes an introduction to several religions. It would make any history incomprehensible if religion was not included since religion is the excuse for most historical conflict.

deaddolly's avatar

As long as they don’t try to force their viewpoints on my kids…

I wonder how a school would react if a parent kept his kid home for All Hallow’s on a religious basis? I’ll bet there’d be a big stink!

Sorceren's avatar

Yes. Any and all religious practices should be allowed—just not during the school time that all school district taxpayers pay for; it is not instruction, merely opinion and belief. Anything you can’t back up scientifically should not be allowed to take up school time, yet study of comparative religions is a scientific study and a valuable option.

galileogirl's avatar

@Sorceren There are practicalities to be dealt with. If you mean students should not get religious instruction during class, that is pretty much accepted. If you mean that they SHOULD have student led or nonteacher led instruction there’s a problem. In every public school a teacher must be present when students or volunteers are meeting for safety reasons. The teacher is paid by the govt-taxpater $$$. Using school facilities always means taxpayer $$$. The exception is when community groups rent space outside of school hours.

meiosis's avatar

As a matter of principal, the linking between church and state we have here in the UK, and the state funded religious schools, are an outrageous anachronism. However, in practise, it all seems to work as, by and large, the regulation stipulating that all schools conduct ‘a daily act of broadly Christian worship’ is largely ignored and fudged into a moral homily about being good. My daughter attends a Church of England (CofE) school with a multi-cultural class including muslims, sikhs and hindus, and even there they don’t force the religious angle. I have no need for religion and am wary of those who attempt to force it onto others; despite her school being run by the CofE, I have no qualms about her attending.

It could be that the establishment of the CofE actually reduces the role religion plays in most people’s lives. The devout have no grounds on which to campaign – they’ve got what they want – but know they have to tread very carefully if they don’t want to blow the privileges they’ve got. Somehow, it seems to work.

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