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Pledge of allegiance and prayers in schools - Essay Example

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Pledge of Allegiance and prayers in schools have mostly been touted as activities that violate the rights to religious freedom. It is often argued that when we force our children to say prayers in school, we take away the chance to help them develop their own religious beliefs…
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Pledge of allegiance and prayers in schools
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PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE AND PRAYERS Pledge of Allegiance and prayers in schools have mostly been touted as activities that violate the rights to religious freedom. It is often argued that when we force our children to say prayers in school, we take away the chance to help them develop their own religious beliefs. Many parents feel that since they do not believe in God, their children must not be asked to recite the name of God in schools. For this reason, pledge of allegiance and prayers has largely been removed from many schools. But the question is: Should the name of God removed from schools and if not, then what are the benefits of keeping this tradition

The public education board in the country requires students to recite Pledge of Allegiance under the guidance of a teacher. Following this rule, many public schools would start each school day with the recitation of this Pledge but make it clear that not every student was required to repeat it. The pledge of Allegiance, formulated in 1942, states, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Though the pledge was codified initially to show loyalty to American flag (See Ref # 1) and the values that this country stands for, it was given a religious flavor when in 1954 the words, "Under God" were added to it. It now reads, "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Let us take the example of California Education code of 1989 which requires schools to begin each day with "appropriate patriotic exercises" and clearly states that "the giving of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America shall satisfy". It is important to notice here that nowhere the word religion or religious beliefs was mentioned in the state education statues and education board only wants schools to conduct these exercises in order to give a proof of their loyalty to the country. It means to instill nationalism or nationalistic sentiments in American children. It is important that our children understand the significance of the values of nationalism and patriotism and while I understand that some minorities may have a problem with this, we must not forget that America can serve as a unifying force. When we ask our children from different ethnic backgrounds to pledge allegiance to American flag, we are only instilling in them love for the country and when the words 'under God' are mentioned, we allow our children to look up to a power bigger and greater than themselves.

Every child needs something greater than himself to hold on to. They need to understand that when they are being asked to do something good and avoid evil, there are rewards waiting for them from that highest power. I feel there is nothing wrong with reciting prayers and pledge in schools because it leads to the creation of a better and more responsible society where caste and creed differences can be minimized since everyone is looking up to the same power i.e. God and pledging allegiance to the same country i.e. America. The opponents however feel that the law should be secular in nature, it should not seek to support of 'advance' any one religion and thirdly it must not give evidence of government's intervention in religious matters. They feel that Pledge of Allegiance does not sound secular because of the word God in it; secondly it does seem to promote the belief that God is present and He is one. This means that even if no particular religion is being promoted, the pledge does contain words which make it religious in nature and give everyone an impression that government endorses and agree with Christian religious beliefs of monotheism. The law also violates the establishment clause, which calls for separation of church and state. (Ostling, 2001)

The opponents however fail to foresee the consequences of not having prayers and pledge in schools. Do they even stop to think about the long term negative effects on the society if our kids are stripped of religion and patriotic values The problem is that we have all become shortsighted and can only see what is here and now thus ignoring the possible repercussions of removing prayers and pledge from schools. We must not forget that the law doesn't force anyone to recite the pledge and prayers but encourages having them as part of daily school routine so children can learn positive values. Our children spend most of their active daytime in schools and it is here that they can learn some good values that would lead to development of a better society.

REFERENCES
1) Michael A. Newdow vs. U.S. Congress: Retrieved online March 18th, 2006 from http://www.cfac.org/Attachments/newdow_v_US_Congress.htm
2) Richard N. Ostling. Associated Press, PUBLIC FIGHTS FOR 'UNDER GOD' The Columbian, 7 September 2002 Read More
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