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A Moment of Silence in Illinois Public Schools - Essay Example

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A Moment of Silence in Illinois Public Schools

Firstly, from the legal point of view opponents claim that the mandatory school prayer introduced by the State is unconstitutional. In Illinois, as reported in the Chicago tribunal, Governor Red Blagojevich attempted to veto the bill on the grounds of separation of church and the state but was defeated. It is indeed true that public schools must remain neutral as far as religion is concerned, they may not endorse a particular religion at the demise of another one, may not endorse secularism over religion or endorse secularism over religion (Robinson 2000). The amends in the legislation to the Illinois act makes it flexible by accommodating diverse religious belief and introducing freedom and choice of observing ones belief according to many legal experts. Dave Smith a member of Illinois Family Institute [IFI] which has been lobbying for the bill in an interview said that it is good to see that the state is finally recognizing that citizens have freedom of religion and not freedom from religion. (Haynes, 2007) Even so, for the Act to be successful its implementation protocol is vital, according to Haynes and Thomas, parents, religious leaders and the community should be educated on three basic policies, one; The primary responsibility for the education of children still lie with the parents, secondly; schools must protect the religious freedom of students of all faiths and those of no faith and lastly; Public debate must be conducted with respect, civility and indifferent to the diverse religious beliefs of the society. (Loconte, 1996)
Secondly, from the religious point of view, Christians believe that prayers should be subject-driven and not object-driven; thus an individual should instigate prayers from within for the prayers to have value otherwise the value of prayer diminishes if it is mandated hence defeats the purpose, a parent reacting to the act in the Christian website lamented that she wanted her children to want to pray not have to. But religious experts differ and hold the view that introduction of religious practices in schools in the long run help to nurture a moral society, on this grounds, religious lobbyists are in the view that it is possible to administer prayer and statement from variety of religion and secular philosophies without trivializing any religion or violating the constitution by concentrating on fundamental universal values taught by all the religious groups (Robinson, 2000). This can be done through signing up for the "Three R's Project" that is Rights, Responsibility and Respect. This project has been introduced in many states successfully and it basically postulates that the Fist amendment provision was to maintain respect for individual conscience, and that it implies a set of civic principles for affirming religion in the public all its diversity. Thus multi ethnicity does not have to mute all religious influence. (Loconte, 1996)
Another Christian classical notion is mandatory prayers in public schools will interfere with harmony between different religions ...Show more

Summary

The constitutional principle of separation between church and state took effect in the public school domain in 1962 when all mandatory religious instructions were declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court. (Robinson, 2000) However, in recent times up to nine states have passed the legislation instructing schools to set up aside time for silent meditation or time to pray…
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