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Legalize Moral Values Essay, Research Paper

Many children in today’s society grow up with little or no more values at all, these children are the sons and daughters of the so called, “Generation X.” This maybe the root of America’s problems with our youth. In the mid sixties religion was taken out of our school systems, and in 1962, the Supreme Court decided that public schools did not have the power to authorize school prayer (Marks 26). This decision made our public schools in the U.S. more atheistic than schools in many European nations. For example crosses still hang on the classroom walls in Poland, and the Ten Commandments are displayed in Hungary schools (School 458). The government holds prayers at the beginning of legislative and judicial sessions and every President has mentioned a divine power in his inaugural speech. In keeping with a spirit of religious freedom as stated in the First Amendment, there is no reason why students should not be allowed to have a moment of silence during the school day when they can pray or do as they choose.

A moment of silence wouldn’t be enough time allowed for certain religions though. In many religions worshipers pray three and four times during the day for long a duration of time. These followers may have to worship with religious rugs or candles, and that may cause controversy in a classroom between other religious backgrounds. Yet, freedom of religion is still what America stands for. To take away our Constitutional right would be depleting the very essence of what makes America, by not allowing a moment of silence in schools America would not be known as a democracy, but a hypocrisy.

The case Engel vs Vitale in 1962 decided that school prayer was unconstitutional. With this case, it was pointed out that the students were to “voluntarily” recite the following prayer: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessing upon us,

our parents, our teachers, and our country.” The court ruled that this rule was unconstitutional according to the First Amendment’s “establishment clause,” which states “Congress shall make

no law respecting an establishment of religion.” In response to the Engel vs Vitale case, some schools adopted a “moment of silence” (Marks 27).

Religion in schools is a touchy subject, because there is a diverse ethnic background. Obviously, every religion cannot practice in its own way. So, there must be a compensation for saving time for school and also not offending others’ beliefs. Allowing a few moments of silent prayer is more than fair to everyone, although, many people may not pray the same way as they do in private. This allows enough time and does not stir emotions, because it is silence. To incorporate religion back in school it would have a dramatic affect on the students. In the sixties when religion was banned from the school system it began a decline in student academics and an incline in absences and overall misbehavior.

In 1963, another case was brought before the court dealing with school prayer: Abington School District vs Schempp. The Schempp family challenged a law in Pennsylvania requiring the students to say ten verses of the Bible before school (School 458). These readings from the Bible were declared unconstitutional. Members of the board felt reading the Bible would give the children more moral values. The Schempp family strongly disagreed. Members of Congress attempted to find a compromise. From this effort came the adoption of the moment of silence, which is guaranteed by the First Amendment’s “Free Exercise” clause (School 459).

Silent prayer was ruled constitutional in 1985 as long as it had no religious intent or purpose. Prayer has been banned in schools for thirty-three years (Marks 29). The moment of

silence has been ruled constitutional, but it can’t have any religious intent. Although, every student fills the moment of silence in a different way through song, a prayer, or a memory.


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