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Is government sponsored prayer needed?

Research by Susan Batte and Tom Peters

There is a secret about prayer in the public schools that the religious right doesn't want you to know: school prayer, like most religious activity, is legal. Completely, thoroughly, and absolutely legal. It was not outlawed in the 1960's; it has never been outlawed. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, the Supreme Court has not made schools a "religion free zone," has not "kicked God out of the public schools," has not "made it illegal to speak about God," and has not "made it illegal to pray in school." These claims are false, and the religious right knows this. Rather, the religious right popularizes these claims to make religious persons believe that their rights are being suppressed in the public schools, thereby gaining support for their political program.

How do we know this? Because when the religious right organizations go to court to argue in favor of the rights of students they quote the law correctly. In court they will argue that there is nothing in the school prayer decisions of the 1960s that prevents students from praying. We completely agree. In this section we look more carefully at the evidence that there is no problem with school prayer in America, and that a constitutional amendment to protect the rights of students to pray is simply not needed.

  • What do the school prayer decisions actually say?
  • Is prayer being suppressed in the public schools?
  • Were prayer and Bible reading widespread before 1962?
  • What about prayer during graduation ceremonies and official school activities?

    Addtionally, check out the definitive document explaining what is and is not legal with respect to religion in the public schools:

    Religion in the Public Schools: A Joint Statement of Current Law.

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