Prayers banned at high school
How much religion should be allowed in public schools?
My early memories of my school days are of standing at assembly line and parroting the "Our father" prayer, together with the hundreds of other students. Even though I attended a public school, non- Christian students had no choice but to join the rest of us in prayer.

Later, in my teens, the school I attended allowed students to hold religious meetings in their free time. However, things got a bit out of hand when some overzealous students started practising faith healing sessions within school grounds.

How much religion should be allowed in public schools? This is a question that has caused debates in some countries around the world.

Some parents argue that when they send their children to school they do not want them to be indoctrinated. Most religious parents want to teach their own children about religion.

Yet some parents strongly feel that their children should be allowed to practice their religious freedom at school. They do not want authorities to strip our children of their religious right.

In the US, “Under the Constitution, government is prohibited from promoting religion or favouring one faith over another,” reports USA Today. The same report goes on to state that “An increasing number of schools are being challenged for conducting prayers before football games.”

A case which gained a lot of coverage is that of 15 Kountze High School cheerleaders in Texas. In her article “What if Texas cheerleaders wave banners with Koran verses?Washington Post writer,  Valerie Strauss commented on Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s words that  the court decision was “a victory for all who cherish our inalienable right to freedom of speech and religious expression” by asking: “One wonders what Perry would have thought if the banners that the cheerleaders were displaying at school football games came from the Koran, Islam’s holy book. Or from the Yasna, the holy book of Zoroastrianism. Or from the Book of Shadows from the Neopagan religion of Wicca?

In South Africa the constitution in part states at Section 31 that “Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community to enjoy their culture, practice their religion and use their language; and to form, join and maintain cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other organs of civil society.”

Independent Online
quotes one South African Politician  is quoted as saying : “We need to teach our people to fear God… How do you teach society to fear God? Is it not by making children pray before school - as it was in the past?”

USA Today
offers a solution: “The safest course for all public schools is to simply call for a moment of silence before a game. Players, coaches and fans alike can then pray silently in the tradition of their own faiths or simply sit in reflection.”

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

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