Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Role of Religion in the Public Sphere

The debate comes down to one major question: “what is the role of religion in the public sphere?” A couple of decades ago and even further back, the issue of prayer in schools came up quite a bit. I have never heard any debate in this area of the country on the issue of school prayer. I think the issue is far more prevalent in the south where there is a more homogenous mixture of Christians. In Wakefield High School, for instance, there is a hodge-podge of religious views ranging from atheist to Christian to Jewish to Hindu to Buddhist. The school as a whole, at least as far as I have noticed, has tried to distance itself from any attachment to a particular religion. During times of community shock, the administration has preferred to use “moment of silence” in place of “prayer” or “meditation.” The phrase “moment of silence” is non-denominational and actually works very well because kids can use the time to do whatever they want, whether it’s think about nothing, say a prayer, or meditate on the situation. And it seems like the nation as a whole has come to the conclusion that in certain areas of public life religion must be preserved like keeping the ten commandments outside of a government building or making people swear an oath upon entering a court room. The issue is really between people who favor a separation of church and state and those who wish to preserve America’s history as a Christian nation. With the growing diversity of religion in America, it’s becoming increasingly harder to preserve prior values. As a whole, I do think the role of religion in the public sphere is still up for debate, but as for prayer in school, I think the issue has already seen its time.

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