Religion and School Prayer in Public Schools Essays

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America's founders envisioned a nation whose government would allow for freedoms and rights to be guaranteed to its citizens. The desire for religious freedom was prominent, sine it was not a right granted to the early colonists living under Briti sh rule. Because England's government forced all of its citizens to learn and practice the same religion, America's first legislators made certain that government intervention in religious matters was prohibited. Therefore, religious freedom was ensured in the First Amendment to the Constitution, as it states, "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . ." (Whitehead, Rights 49). This statement allowed …show more content…
Numerous state governments displayed favoritism and partiality towards different religions in the form of lonas and support. Therefore to further ensure that religion was independent of the government, a more precise interpretation of the first amendment was enacted. By completely making religion and the state unconnected, the new understanding became known as the separation of church and state.

Secularism, the term used to define the separation of church and state, has become an increasingly debatable issue, especially when dealing with the role of prayer in public schools. The antagonists argue that the total separation of church and st ate is extreme and that the writers of the Constitution would have allowed for more religious involvement in the schools (Whitehead, Freedom 5). Not only is the antagonist group comprised of common citizens, but government officials as well. For example, former Chief Justice Warren Burger explained in 1984, "The constitution does not require complete separation of church and state; it affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance of all religions, and forbids hostility toward an y" (Whitehead, Rights 49). On the same note, the Northwest ordinance, passed by the same congress that ratified the Consitution, stated that "religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to
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