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This paper uses the ideas of William James and John Dewey to buttresses an opposition to any effort to amend the United States Constitution to encourage or compel elementary and secondary school students to recite daily an oral prayer. The first section is a selection of the views of Dewey and James. The second section utilizes these ideas to respond to five questions: (1) Could we not experiment with different kinds of prayers, or perhaps alternate the prayers of one group with another?; (2) Couldn't a teacher who wishes to model good behavior before his or her students demonstrate this by leading a class in prayer?; (3) Isn't there a prayer that would please most people, like the Lord's Prayer?; (4) What is wrong with letting local and state authorities make the decision about how to handle the school prayer question?; and (5) Isn't the religious liberty of those who want to pray in the public schools being violated today? The paper emphatically responds in the negative to questions 1-3 and 5. Allowing state and local authorities to make decisions regarding school prayer issues (question 4) is rejected because the Bill of Rights applies to all states. To argue otherwise is to misunderstand the fundamental character of the U.S. federal system. Contains 13 notes. (LH)

Descriptors: Elementary Secondary Education, Religion, School Prayer, State Church Separation

Autor: Bauer, Norman J.


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