In 1980 the Court denied a law in Kentucky that required the posting of the Ten Commandments in all classrooms. Then in 1984 the Equal Access law gave students the right to hold religious meetings in public high schools outside class hours. Following this decision in Wallace v. Jeffries the Engle decision was passed stating that permitting a “moment of silence” for “mediation” or “voluntary prayer” in public schools was unconstitutional.
The Court held that holding this period of silence promoted religious values and therefore violated the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. In no way does this moment of silence create a national church so why interfere in something that is not of their business? I personally disagree with the Wallace v. Jeffries decision. The moment of silence was voluntary and no child/teenager was forced to participate. When I was in school some kids used it to pray while others used it to stretch and prepare for the on coming day.
If we review the Free Exercise Clause that states that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion, then this exercise has been violated. I should be allowed to pray in the morning if I so choose. It is a basic right that is now being denied. A moment of silence has nothing to do with a religious belief. It is simply a few minutes of quite time for students to use. There is nothing that states you must pray at all. I believe that people are crossing the line simple due to the separation of church and state law.
As far as the Ten Commandments being posted in every high school as a matter of law I would too have to say a no. I don’t believe that it should be forced upon a school. However, is a school decided to post them then I don’t see the big deal. A student isn’t forced to read them. Once again it is an individual decision to either read the commandments or lot just like it is a personal decision to either pray in the “moment of silence” or do whatever a student chooses to do. In either case no one is forced to do something religiously against his or her will.
However restricting the Ten Commandments from a high school that wants to place them goes against the free exercise clause in every aspect. The free exercise clause is also violated with the removal of a “moment of silence. ” If I want to pray in the morning I should be allowed that personal opportunity. Also if I am walking in the halls somewhere and see the Ten Commandments it ought to be my decision on whether or not I read them. Under the freedom of religion I have the right to act on my religious beliefs.
Religious Freedom includes the worship, to print instructional material, to train teachers and to organize groups for their employment and schools in which to teach, including religion, but also to not force a religion on people. A moment of silence forces nothing on anyone. Force implies that you must do this. None is being made to pray during he moment of silence and no on is being forced to read the Ten Commandments. However, I do have the right to my religious believes and the law shouldn’t be able to take that from me simple because I am in school.
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