Were you required to participate in school prayers? If you’re old enough, and lived in certain areas of the country, you might have. It used to be standard practice.
Public school administrators nationwide know that officially sponsored prayers (or other officially organized religious practices) are considered unconstitutional. The U.S. Department of Education maintains an online overview of the rules, which haven’t changed in decades. The current web version of the rules was posted in 2003, back when George W. Bush was president.
Still, a new Gallup poll is sparking fresh debate nationwide, raising the question: Could a case be made for prayer in schools? In recent days, commentators in conservative publications like the Washington Times have cited the Gallup report as fresh food for thought.
WHAT GALLUP FOUND: About six of ten Americans (61%) support allowing daily prayers to be spoken aloud in the classroom, according to the new poll. This actually represents a gradual decline in support for school prayer. In 1999, 70% of Americans supported the practice. Support was 68% in 2000, and 66% in early 2001.
Protestants are much more likely than Catholics to support daily prayer in the classroom, according to Gallup. Today, more than three of four Protestants (77%) favor the practice, compared to 57% of Catholics. Only a third (35%) of Americans with no religious preference support daily prayers in the classroom.
Not surprisingly, Americans who attend church every week are much more likely to support daily prayers in school. Over eight of ten (82%) frequent church goers support school prayer. Among those who seldom go to church, 49% are in favor of daily prayers at school.
Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to support the practice of daily school prayers. Eight of ten (80%) Republicans would allow it, compared to 45% of Democrats.
While officially sanctioned prayers are banned, students can still pray if they want to. The prayers just can’t be officially authorized or sponsored, and the practice cannot disrupt other students from doing their work.
Did you participate in officially sponsored prayers at school?
Would it be beneficial to reinstate school prayers?
Are there certain circumstances in which you would allow prayers at school?
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