Prayer is a medium of communication with God. It is based on the acknowledgement of the existence of a Supreme Being and faith in the same. Different faiths and religions have their distinct prayers. This paper looks into the issue of prayers in schools. The issue of prayer in school has been controversial with countries like France and turkey having laws that prohibit any form of religion in public schools.
In France it is unlawful for students to wear clothing or garments that categorize them religiously.Due to the secular culture, even in public servants are expected to keep their religious affiliations private. In the United States, prayers in schools have been outlawed by decisions arrived at in two cases ruled by the Supreme Court (Sikorski, Robert).
This issue of prayer has been a contentious one because while some courts allow for prayers at graduation ceremonies, one appellate court once termed the exercise unconditional when it was done at athletic events.The supreme court makes it clear that activities in public schools should not promote or hinder religion, must not link religion to government and finally, the activities must be secular in purpose (Sikorski, Robert, 111-124). What has replaced the oral prayer in schools is a moment of silence or reflection. However in a number of places prayer is still allowed in schools. In England for instance there is statutory requirement that all state schools conduct prayers daily. However not all schools adhere to this.There are exceptions to this rule one of them being that schools belonging to different religious groups can conduct worship according to their respective inclinations.
Another exception is that prayer in schools can be done away with when found inappropriate by the standing Advisory council for part or the entire school. According to Alley, Robert, 75, there also exists strong opposition to prayers with opponents arguing that prayers are private while schools are public and this breeds conflict of interest. They emphasize that religion and state should remain separate.It is said that pupils start noticing the differences that exist among different religions and have divisive effects. This is especially true where there are minority groups. A religion that has few members or is not well represented belongs to the minority group.
For example Buddhists in a Christian state. Their voice is not heard nor is their interest represented. Moreover opponents add that there should be freedom of conscience where no one is coerced to be involved in any religious activity. A prayer session in schools is mostly conducted while students and teachers are in assembly.In Christian schools, prayers may precede or follow a religious song or a reading from the Bible.
One person leads the prayers while the others participate quietly. At such times there is a sense of unity because the prayers tend to create a bond that unifies those involved. They consider themselves as one body. Prayers can also act as a deterrent to some vices that are common in schools like bullying, cheating in exams, lack of respect or ill feelings between pupils and teachers (Evans, Bette Novit, 27).
This is because some words spoken in a prayer like the Lords prayer (a very common prayer in schools) include parts that say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Another part says “lead us not into temptation”. These words when constantly repeated are recorded in the subconscious and make a person keen on what he or she does (Murray, William J, 43). The words awaken the conscience of those who pray. Students have different talents and different degrees of intelligence.Those that are challenged in terms of intelligent can tend to be low because of not measuring up to the other bright students. Prayers give those students a hope of improving and can also speak out and seek help. Prayer has a psychological effect.
Conclusion My opinion is that prayers in schools should be embraced because they help in behavior modeling especially for adolescent ho have potential to be rebellious. Different religions could have their meetings separately to reduce the feeling of compulsion to conform to any one religion. Care should be exercised to avoid controversies and misunderstandings.