The proposed prayer amendment to our Constitution will do nothing for our problems. On the contrary, it will simply create unneeded controversy. Today, in a public school, a student can pray when he or she feels it necessary, as long as it does not interfere with the academic day. The praying student will not be breaking any laws if he or she wishes to pray before lunch or before a test. The lack of a prayer amendment is not a loss of religious freedom for the religious, but a loss of an unjust right for the religious to push their prayers on everyone else.
First of all, the amendment is supposed to be a "voluntary" prayer so everyone does not have to participate in it. But how voluntary will the school prayer be, say in an elementary school or even in a high school, when there will be peer pressure, teacher and administrative pressure, and pressure from the parents to participate in the prayers with the other kids? Not to mention the pressure the non-praying student will feel if he or she knows the Constitution of the United States sanctions such an amendment. Also, how do you think a religious teacher, who is excited about the new prayer amendment, will look at or even grade a non-praying student? Will the non-praying student be treated fairly or will there be some prejudice aimed at a non-praying student? Pushing a prayer on school children at their ages, that is of course coercive because of the pressures, will not help alleviate any of our school problems. Our real problems in our public schools are the young pregnancies, guns and crime among other things. Our problems can be attacked better by emphasizing responsibility at the home where the child can be taught the difference between right and wrong. Then, the school can exemplify the home morality teachings with their secular teachings, and help rear the children toward the right direction.
Second of all, if the Congressmen who want to push this prayer amendment want to truly help our country, they will do so by taking decisive action in the interest of the people. If those Congressmen think that the young school children can pray us out of our school plight, well, to sum it up, they are terribly mistaken. What can help us out are beneficial reforms and policy-making on their part. Of course, parents, teachers, etc. need to do their share of instilling good morals in the children. Only by the devoted efforts of all can we rise from our current plight in our schools.
Lastly, what about the rights of the non-Christians? Who do you think will be leading the prayers, and to whose god? Of course, it will be the Christians who will be leading the prayers directed to their god. Hypothetically speaking, how do you think a Christian will feel if a Muslim leads the prayers, facing toward Mecca, five times a day to their god Allah? Well, most likely, that would not happen because in our country the dominant religion is Christianity. Many religious people, whether they are Christians, Muslims or Hindus, have different reasons for praying, pray differently and pray to different gods. We do not need to coerce all our religious to pray a certain way. Furthermore, what about the people who are free from religion and its doctrines? What about the rights of those people? How do you think an atheist or agnostic will feel being coerced to pray to a god? A proposed prayer amendment will not help our problems but simply move our attention from our real problems. We live in a multi-cultural, multi-faith society, and because of this not everyone prays the Christian way or even prays at all. We do not need to alienate the non-Christians and the nonreligious by coercing their kids to pray in our public schools.
Harold M. Manriquez Jr.
History and Classics Junior
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