Many schools across the country are currently battling over whether or not prayer and religious symbols should be allowed in schools. Is it a clear-cut case of separation between church and state, or is it a cloudy matter of personal expression?
In schools all over the US the question is being raised as to whether students should be allowed to pray and wear religious symbols on school property. This issue is getting a lot of people up in arms. Some say there should not be the slightest hint of religion within the public school system, while others feel that not allowing it is stifling the freedom of the students.
There have been news reports of schools that allow Christian prayer and symbols, but no others. This certainly seems wrong. It is my belief that religion in schools should be an all or nothing deal. Either all students should have the same freedoms of prayer and to wear symbols of their religion, or it should not be allowed for anyone. In all honesty, I feel that religion has no place in the public school system.
Why do I think that religion has no place in school? It’s simple, kids have enough things to deal with in school. They have their studies, difficulty with teachers, bullying due to race, gender, size, age, intellect, clothing choices, economic background… and the list goes on. Bringing religion into school is only going to create another thing for children to be bullied and abused for.
A time of prayer in school might be acceptable if, and only if, that prayer time was silent, and no symbols of any religion were present. Children could pray in their seat, but would not be allowed any physical displays that might give away their faith. However, since this might be difficult to enforce, it is likely best that prayer not be allowed at all.
As to the issue of stifling personal expression, this is something that children are going to have to learn sooner or later anyway. As we grow up we find that there are times and places in which certain things are appropriate or inappropriate. A school is much like a workplace, and workplaces often disallow anything that might detract an employee from work or cause them strife with other workers. Children will have plenty of times and places to express themselves outside of school grounds.
It seems that supporters of prayer and religious symbols in schools might have another agenda. If students were allowed to openly display their faith, it might become an issue of “there are more of us than there are of you”, and troubles could arise from bullying and superiority. In the end it would likely be as dangerous as allowing gang colors in school.
It also seems that there is a simple solution for those who feel it is an absolute necessity for their children to be able to display their faith in school: send them to a faith oriented school. If there is no school available for that religion, perhaps they should make one.