Rogerian Style Paper About Religion in School/Pulbic Places
These articles have shed some new light on this question for me. My understanding of the separation of church and state is this; it was started to keep the government from forcing one religion on everyone. The United States of America wanted people to worship freely. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…. ” (Legal Information Institute). The U. S. Supreme Court has interpreted this clause to mean that religion and government must stay separate for the benefit of both.
The government holds no religious viewpoint and leaves all decisions about faith and religious practice to its citizens. I also understand that what Americans United for the Separation of Church and state stand for. The group was formed to insure that church and state stay separate. In the case of LaClair I understand why you would want to sue the school and the teacher. Mr. Paszkiewicz was way out of line for stating things like “If you reject his gift of salvation, then you know where you belong,” (There Should Not Be Prayer and Bible Study in Public Schools) he makes it hard for other teachers or coach who are religious.
On your website in the Why We Care section it states” AU believes your right to religious liberty is not secure when the government presumes to promote religion over non-religion or favors one faith over another. We believe your rights are not secure when the government uses public services intended for everyone, such as the public schools, to indoctrinate or coerce participation in worship” (Why We Care). This is very true, you guys hold up to that very statement but that’s the problem.
AU stands up for everyone who is against religion being in public school but what about the people who want to bow their head and get on one knee when others are praying? Take the case of Marcus Borden, he was told to stop praying with his football team and he did but the student kept praying. Borden was spotted in the prayer circle still and everyone believed he was still leading praying. Borden told the school that all he wanted to do was bow his head and go down on one knee while the students prayed (Faith and Freedom).
The AU sided with the school officials when Borden sued; AU stands up for the non-religious people but never for the religious people. Borden had done nothing wrong and was still in hot water with the school. If I’m not mistaken students are allowed to have small prayer groups in public school as long as they don’t bother others or others are not forced to join. So I feel like as if AU should have stood up for what Borden was doing, he was no longer leading praying so he was not going against separation of church and state, he was stayed in the guidelines.
In another one of your cases that did not have to go to court you again sided with the non-religious person. In this case a public-school principal was hosting prayer-breakfasts for staff and including religious messages in emails to staff (AU Out-of-Court Victories). One of the staff felt this was wrong and instead of simply asking to be taking off the invite list they ran to AU and you found some way to make this a violation of separate of church and state. Separation of Church and State was started to keep everyone’s right to worship the way they wanted and to do so freely.
AU is said to stand behind this law, but from my point of view all the AU is trying to do is keep religion out of any public place. So my question is how can we the people who are religious worship freely if everywhere we go we can’t worship? Let’s narrow it down to just public schools, public schools teach about 90% of all American students (There should Not be Prayer and bible Study in Public Schools). Among the 90% more students are religious then non-religious, so I feel that High school students should be teach the basics of the major religions.
In an interview Stephen Prothero says “The question isn’t what religion is true or most valuable. The question is, what religious traditions do you need to know something about in order to be an effective citizen? If you look at the congressional record, you’re not going to see a lot of references to the Buddha and to the Bhagavad-Gita. But you’re going to see tons of references to the Bible, to Armageddon, to apocalypse, to the Promised Land, to the Good Samaritan” (There Should Be Prayer and Bible Study in Public Schools).
Prothero make a valid point, the United States was founded on Protestant religion and the Declaration of Intendances even quotes the bible. High school students should have to learn about religion in school and in doing so I feel that students will learn to respect other people’s faith or non-faith. In closing there has to be a middle ground. Public school should be that middle ground, it should be a place where religion is welcomed and understood, not disregarded and tossed aside.
Religious and non-religious people have to learn to work together and if our students are teach to respect each other in what they believe then this could work. Public school cannot keep being a place where students are forced to watch a one-hour pro-homosexual video, to censor any mention of intelligent design, to use classroom materials that parents consider pornographic, to force students to answer nosy questionnaires with suggestive questions about sex and suicide, and to prohibit antigay T-shirts but welcome anti-Bush T-shirts( Phyllis Schlafly).