Prayer and Religion in Schools

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It was due to the lack of justification to unexplainable questions, that people all over the world relied on religion. Since the dawn of history, humans have shown a natural tendency towards faith and worship of anything they considered superior or as mentioned, complex to understand. As a result, the performance of rituals and keeping traditions or laws emerged, to earn goodness and/or everlasting life. Religion therefore can be defined as a fundamental set of beliefs and practices that concern the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, generally agreed upon by a group of people.

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Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jewish, and Muslim are the world’s major religions. These are all practices around the world in different locations, some in more than others. In fact, according to the article “Big Think” published in the World Economic Forum in March, Christianity, for an instant, dominates in the Americas, Europe, and the southern half of Africa. Whereas Islam is the top religion in a string of countries from Northern Africa through the Middle East to Indonesia. India stands out as a huge Hindu bloc and Buddhism is the majority religion in South East Asia and Japan. Lastly, there is China, which is the country with the world’s largest atheist population as well as worshippers of other religions, along with other countries like Canada, Argentina, Czech Republic, Sweden, and overall countries in Western Europe, that have also shown a high record of atheists.

Day by day, more adults, teenagers, and children are becoming less and lesser attached to religions, and even though most all of us have the choice to decide whether we want to follow a specific religion, there are countries where if you do not pursue that creed, there will be a punishment. Take for example Muslims, where for some, leaving the faith is a religious crime. In fact, it has been found thought a 2016 report that atheists can be sentenced to death in 13 Muslim-majority countries. Families have also broken apart, as some shun their relatives, or ex-believers fear physical abuse or retribution. Nonetheless, those who leave their hometown are adults who can make that decision as they aren’t under their parents’ obligations anymore. Although, what happens to the minors who either have a different faith or don’t have one at all?

Schools, mainly public, are where most controversies show. Parents, students, administrators, and teachers have collided for many centuries because of religious interests. It dates back to the 19th century, where students disputed which prayers were more suitable to use in the classroom. While Protestants supported the schools as they included the King James Version of the Bible, Catholics had a rough time agreeing with it, fighting for what they believed was more proper to practice. It all ended up in death and violence, as several people died and Catholic churches were burned. Despite the different clauses made to prevent this from happening ever again anywhere, such as by letting students be excused during the school day so they could attend religious classes away from school property, there was and still are issues as to whether what’s more appropriate to rehearse in schools, and whether there should be anything to rehearse or teach at all.

High school football games, student clubs, and even graduation ceremonies are where some of these disagreements frequently affect public education as well. Classes such as biology are much debated due to the teaching of the creation of the universe and evolution, which most apply Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, first formulated in Darwin’s book “On the Origin of Species” in 1859. It is incredibly well known and one of the best-supported theories in the history of science, due to the geology, paleontology, genetics, and development biology evidence that support it. To briefly explain the theory, it is based on the idea that all species are related and gradually change over time. However, a portion of the religious students that are taught this hypothesis, may not establish agreement among others who do, feeling offended and angry. Many feel as they are being forced to choose between science and their religious beliefs.

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