Classroom prayer

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American high school students praying before an athletic event
Preach to the choir
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Crux of the matter
Speak of the devil
An act of faith
It's another way of making kids different from other kids when they're required by law to be there.
—Toby Ziegler, The West Wing[1]
As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school.
—words of wisdom on a desk

Classroom prayer, also known as school prayer, is, as the name suggests, prayer that takes place in a classroom or school. The nature of the prayer is not specific, but among American conservatives it should be "loud and proud"[note 1] and only directed towards the Christian God and no other. Ideally, prayer should be mandatory and led by an authority figure, such as a teacher, visiting preacher, or nominated student. In public schools in the US, this type of classroom prayer is considered unconstitutional, but there is no restriction on students themselves silently praying or forming prayer groups during recess or outside of school hours.[2] In addition, private schools and homeschools have no restrictions on whatever classroom prayer they wish to enforce.

Self-led, single-person classroom prayer is a phenomenon that is most common just before a test, especially among students who spent their "study time" wasting their time on social media and video games and editing RationalWiki.

God banned from school?[edit]

"Thank the" — "thank the Lord"? That sounded like a prayer. A prayer. A prayer in a public school! God has no place within these walls, just as facts have no place in organized religion!
—Superintendent Chalmers, in regards to new principal Ned Flanders thanking the Lord over the school's PA, "The Simpsons"
"They put the Negroes in the schools and now they've driven God out."
—Alabama Congressman George W. AndrewsWikipedia's reaction to Engel v. VitaleWikipedia, showing the Christian white nationalism foundation sometimes found in those who advocate for school prayer.[3][4]

In the United States, Christian fundamentalists love to claim that God has been banned from public schools. While it is true that in 1963 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a case brought by Madalyn Murray O'Hair that prayer led by state officials is a violation of the Establishment Clause,[5][6] students in public schools are free to pray at any time, whether in the hall, in an empty room, in the cafeteria, or just before a sports match. This may be done to a deity, automobile, or pasta dish of their choice.

Most schools in the more "modern" parts of the United States will go out of their way to allow a student to leave the classroom if their religion requires a moment of prayer. For example, Muslim students are generally allowed to leave the classroom for midday prayers.

Many religious fundamentalists believe the decline of teacher-led prayer has caused an increase in violent crime, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, natural disasters, and pretty much anything else that has gone wrong in the past fifty eighty one hundred and fifty years. Such conjecture ignores the obvious problem that the more religious conservative states have a nasty habit of leading the way in nearly all of these problems, especially teen pregnancy and divorce.[7] (OK, leading in natural disasters are just insult on injuries here…) The claim that secularized schools lead to immorality is a form of moral panic, and suggests that parents are somehow incapable of either spreading the word of the Lawd Almighty their religious views to their children or giving their children a smack with the real Bible Belt moral framework for life without government assistance. Notably, most classroom prayer advocates claim to be against any kind of government assistance in all other areas.

Curiously, enthusiasm for state-mandated prayer fades when the religion in question isn't Christianity.[8][9] The excuse for it is that the U.S. is founded on Judeo-Christian principles, so that's fine and dandy. Except that's not true, and even if it was true, the nation has evolved (pun entirely intended) since then.

Some Canuckistan provinces/territories permit Catholic school systems to levy taxes on home owners to fund Catholic education, where prayer is clearly allowed. However, taxpayers in Ontario only do so on an opt-in basis (unless all schools in town are Catholic and/or French-speaking); by default, they pay the same tax to the secular public-school system instead.[10]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Screw the crap Jesus said in Matthew 6:5.