Prayer At Athletic Events

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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PRAYER AT ATHLETIC EVENTS "Dear God, please pass everybody on the math test, or please let there be a snow day, amen." Even though this is a common prayer recited by students, many people believe that prayer is not allowed in the public schools. Prayer is only not allowed, but it is a protected form of speech. The commonly asked question about public prayer is, "What's wrong with students praying at athletic events?" Nothing is wrong with someone praying at a school event, and no one is trying to take away an individual's right to pray before, during, or after school events like an athletic game. Praying is up to them. But the argument is not whether students can pray before the game; it's about the school getting involved with this religious message by letting students use the school's public address system. Praying over a loudspeaker forces everyone to listen.

This is the issue in the Santa Fe Independent School District case. Publicly praying is becoming a conflict for many schools.

School sponsorship of a religious message is questionable. It sends a message to members of the audience who are not of that particular religion, that they are "outsiders", and an inviting message to those members of the audience who are part of that religion, that they are "insiders". People believe ""¦if the prayers serve 'to remind religious minorities that they're in the minority,' then they're a form of bullying"”'which doesn't seem very Christian.'" (The Christian Century, 893) The delivery of such a message over the school's public address system by a speaker representing the student body and under supervision of school faculty is not characterized as private speech. Even though these public prayers may be a community tradition, this religious activity in public schools must follow the First Amendment...

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