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School Prayer This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Now that the Republican Party has seized control of Congress, several prominent figures, including House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have made known their desire for a "moment of silence" to be set aside each school day. The moment is clearly and admittedly intended for prayer by students, which violates the First Amendment, which assures separation of church and state.

In a quick history lesson, the Supreme Court decided in Engel vs. Vitale that a non-denominational prayer in New York schools was unconstitutional. A "moment of silence" is a step away from instituted school prayer. While impossible to argue that the moment is offensive, it is simply unnecessary. If a student wishes to pray silently, s/he may do so at any time privately. A time set aside for all students to do so is not needed and does not allow for students of no religion.

Religious students have already made concessions in order to attend school. Consider individuals who are Muslim. Though their faith requires they pray at five particular times daily, students of this faith make up for these prayers they miss while in school once they get home.

Prayer is a very personal and sacred act that has no place in school. President Bill Clinton, under Republican pressure, has said that he will consider instituting a "moment of silence," compromising his previous position. While some concession to Congress will be necessary, this is not one of them. A "moment of silence" is both unnecessary and, more important, a dangerous step toward violating the separation of church and state. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Um Nice Try said...
Dec. 7, 2010 at 10:24 am
Well written for the age group, however, it does not address the fact that a moment of silence can be anything and therefore not "dangerous" - Students can use it for prayer, meditation, a really fast nap :) or to send out positive vibes about his/her upcoming day at school. With the bullies, pressures and other negatives surrounding a child's day in school, this would probably be very helpful. Those who say this intimidates them should not advertise their weakness but rather their tolerance and... (more »)
 
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