A contemporary educational issue in which biblical principles conflict with legal and societal expectations is prayer and the use of bibles in public schools across the United States of America. Biblical insights have suggested that King Solomon is the wisest human ever lived on this earth. He advocated that children should be trained in their youth so they can have a long range impact on society in the future. “Train up a child in the way he should grow and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Currently, this concept seemed irrelevant to the education of students in public schools across America. Legal ramifications have dictated that prayer and reference to the word of God is prohibited in the United States curriculum. However, God is the creator of the universe. He is the beginning and the end, The God of wisdom. Legal and societal expectations should not conflict with His words. He is the truest source of education. Therefore, prayer and the words of God should be re-enacted into the United States curriculum.
“The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting a creation of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. ” The first clause, referred to as the “establishment clause”, limits the role of religion in public schools” (Schwadel, 2013). After Congress made this decision, several cases were presented against the role of religion in public schools and the “Abington Township School District v. Schempp, decided on June 17, 1963, was the second so-called “school prayer” decision (the first came a year earlier in Engel v. Vitale)” (First Amendment Center, 2003).
“It was the most far-reaching, prohibiting school officials from organizing or leading prayers and devotional Bible reading in public schools (First Amendment Center, 2003)”. Following this decision from Congress, schools in the United States have been operating without referring to biblical concepts in their classrooms. Students should know that with God’s help they can be successful in their learning. They should be reminded of His constant love and His plans for their lives.
Schools should be an environment where God is invited and His wisdom should dictate how instructions are carried out. Bibles and schools were the identical foundations of an evangelical spiritual values in the United States (Dorsey, 2008). However, rivalry between Catholics and Protestants was one of the reasons for the arguments against bible readings in the public schools ( Dorsey, 2008). This selfish prompting has deter from the true meaning of exposing students to God’s will in their lives. Furthermore, students should develop, physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually.
Since school is a place that promotes development, all aspects of development should be perused. Spiritual development is a necessary component in human lives. In reading God’s words, admonishment is provided to lead a moral lifestyle. For example, the commandments of God is a guideline that will instruct students of how to treat each other. Bible readings also serve as a constant reminder of how to be kind and compassion in relationships in the school community. In the bible, Jesus shared several parables that are applicable to human’s lifestyles in this age.
With this understanding, students would have the opportunity to incorporate real life experience with their instructions. Spiritual development does not stand alone. It is intertwined with social, mental, and physical development. In reading God’s words, students will understand the importance of socializing appropriately with their peers. Jesus shared several examples in the bible of being a friend to man. He participated in wedding ceremonies, he visited the homes of sick, he instructed his disciples of how to carry out their duties and he was a lover of children. Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 19:14).
Jesus knew that humans need each other so he emphasized peaceful living. “If it be possible, as much as dependence in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Students should be able to make this reference point when socializing in the classroom. The bible also enhance physical development. In the books of Leviticus and Numbers, God shared some food items that will aid the human body’s to grow and some which could lead to diseases in the bodies.
By eating healthy, students physical growth is further enhanced. On the other hand mental development can also be found in total dependence on God. “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all things will be added unto you (Matthew 6: 33-34). By seeking God, students have the ability to learn all concepts for their academic success. He is the source of inspirations and inspires and brings back to students’ remembrance the things they have studied for test taking. Alongside the need for spiritual development is the increase of religious affiliations in America.
America has become a diverse religious nation. Students from different cultures and backgrounds uphold different beliefs of God. No student should be forced to remain silent on how they value God. God should take precedence in the curriculum and students should acknowledge Him openly. Emphasis is not being placed on highlighting any specific religion in the classrooms; however, Christian principles should be referenced. Including biblical concepts in public should not be used as a means of proselytizing any religious preference.
In the book, Curriculum and the Culture Wars, the author proposed that that public schools have an obligation to help democratic societies to overcome religious illiteracy so that antagonisms and discrimination rooted in ignorance about religion might be diminished. Thus, she advocates for a curriculum that teaches about the Bible from an objective historical and literary perspective ( Bindewald, 2015). The curriculum across the nation needs to return to basics.
According to Chancey (2015), the bible was the foundation and blueprint for our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, our educational system and our history until the last twenty to thirty years. Before we cross that ancient bridge, it is compulsory to look further back in time and briefly trace the doctrinal path that led to the founding of our nation, especially the path that contains the relationship of church and state. There is a tenacious human propensity to blur the distinction between church and state, which at times has resulted in a oppression of the state, at other times in a oppression of the church (Walters, 2009).
The centuries-long debate over religion in the public schools is framed by the most sacred principles upon which America is based: majority rule and individual rights. The courts have had to grapple with the difficulty of balancing these competing principles, with each subsequent court case moving incrementally from majority rule to the rights of the individuals” (Walters, 2009). This notion signifies we need to repair the broken bridge and examine our historical roots and the impact they have on education.
The need for prayer is also utterly important in schools. An educational leader should demonstrate wisdom by tapping in to the source of wisdom. God is the source of wisdom. He had maintained in His words, the vitality of making moral decisions as well as building reputable characters for a long range impact on society. One major difference in Christian schools and public schools is the emphasis placed on prayer. In the Christian schools, students are aware that they can pray to God for guidance when completing their instructional activities.
They understand that using that corrupt communication is not of God and furthermore, they are reminded constantly that God takes first place in their lives. In the public settings, Christianity is more evident through the dispositions of the teacher. In some cultures, devotion is allowed in the public school. Growing up in the islands, I attended a public that supported having devotion as the first activity of the day. Students would assembly under one setting and an inspirational reading and prayer would be offered.
Throughout the day, that inspirational thought in some cases because a reference point for students. Students would be empowered by the thought during difficult situations. Prayer is Divine intervention that supersedes all human interventions. Prayer includes faith and trust in a super natural being. Prayer has been noted to change many situations. Students who are Christians have testimonies of how prayer has change acts of bullying, prayer has helped them to be successful on examinations, prayer has healed their peers and prayer has made them into change agents.
Students should not be barred from publicly exercising Christian beliefs in God. Prayer is a daily necessary component of survival. When students understand that prayer is a solution to their challenges they will not only seek to pray at school but will lead a consistent prayerful life in all areas of their lives. This is one way of training students to enter society and become problem solvers. Against this background, there is a need for teachers to train proficiently to teach bible courses in public schools.
Researchers and leaders in Christian higher education must stimulate its future public school teachers to study to be prepared to be the instructors in these classes. In addition, it is not only vital that Christian colleges and universities provide these teachers, but that they also fully equip them to perform skillfully” (William, 2012). Teachers should be able to efficiently deviate from personal religious beliefs and be objective in presently biblical concepts in a professional manner to educate students for future success.
Prohibiting prayer and bible readings appears to be unethical. Even though the constitution supports freedom of speech, this notion seems to be hypocritical by not allowing students the freedom to express their Christian beliefs in a public setting. Ethics in the educational environment should be consistent and reliable. While one student is allowed to express his concerns regarding the preparation of a state assessment another student should be allowed to express the power of prayer in preparing for a state assessment.