How Thin is the Line Between Church, State?


Photo Credit Kitana Ford

Kitana Ford, Proofreader

She closes her eyes as she kneels by the side of her bed and clasps her hands in prayer.  After she closes her prayer, she rises and makes her way to school. As she enters the school gates, she tucks her cross into her shirt out of fear that she will be met with hostility for expressing her religion.

The principle of the separation of church and state was founded when the court interpreted the First Amendment with regards to the U.S. Constitution. The ruling required government agencies to separate themselves from religion and remain neutral. However, the First Amendment also guarantees the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of press, the right to peacefully assemble and the right to petition. Such circumstances have left individuals with this question: is religion allowed in schools, and if not should religion be allowed in schools?

Actually, expressing one’s religion is allowed under the First Amendment as long as the individual doesn’t create a disturbance or make an effort to convert another to their religion. Additionally, a student-organized religious group can be authorized if the school approves it and receives funding. As for teachers, they are legally allowed to teach about religion as long as they do so in an academic manner and objectively.

Henceforth, choir teacher Carmen Domek holds the same belief that religion should only be taught in an academic manner. “Contemporary religion should only be taught in schools when it’s relevant to the content in the class and not as a teacher’s personal preference.”

On the other hand, some individuals feel as though religion should remain separate from schools out of precaution. Junior Riley Perry recalls the historic conflict between religious and non-religious people. “I believe religion should only be allowed in certain areas because it can start various fights between other people who do not believe,” he said.

Conversely, others view their right to exercise their religion as one that should not be taken from them or restricted. Junior Sean Miles believes that people should be allowed to practice their religion freely without others denying them their right to. “You should be allowed to show what you believe in without facing consequences in return,” he said.

To conclude, although religion is allowed in schools due to the First Amendment, it is limited. Students and teachers alike can express their religion as long as they do so in a way that doesn’t influence or disrupt others.

Photo Credit Kitana Ford
A bible lays open to Psalms on the altar, with a cross placed on top of it.