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Pro and Con Arguments about Prayers in Public Schools 
 
by Laura Evans May 20, 2005

Arguments Against Allowing Prayers in Public Schools

  • Separation of Church and State

    The Founding Fathers were not as supportive of religion as those who favor prayer in schools would like to believe. In fact, many of the Founding Fathers strongly questioned not only religion, but in some cases, the nature and existence of God. In a letter to John Adams on August 15, 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote that, "To talk of immaterial existences is to talk of nothings. To say that the human soul, angels, God, are immaterial is to say they are nothings, or that there is no God, no angels, no soul. I cannot reason otherwise." James Madison wrote, "That diabolical, hell-conceived principle of persecution rages among some; and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of impas for such business..." in a letter to William Bradford, Jr. in 1774. In 1758, Benjamin Franklin wrote in Poor Richard's Almanac: "Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.”

    The Founding Fathers were very concerned about the separation between church and state. "I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises," wrote Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Miller. In 1808, James Madison wrote to William Bradford, Jr, "Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other sects?" And, in 1797, President John Adams and the entire Senate of the United States acknowledged that Christianity was not the foundation of the United States government when it ratified "the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary." This treaty, commonly referred to as the "Treaty of Tripoli," included the statement that "…the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion…" The Founding Fathers would have applauded the Supreme Court’s removal of prayer from public schools.

  • The "Moral Decline" Issue is Vastly Overstated

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