Religious Practice in Schools of Massachusetts
Questions about religion in the classroom no longer make quite as many headlines as they once did, but the issue remains an important battleground in the broader conflict over religion’s role in public life. Some Americans are troubled by what they see as an effort on the part of federal courts and civil liberties advocates to exclude God and religious sentiment from public schools. Such an effort, these Americans believe, infringes on the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. Many civil libertarians and others, meanwhile, voice concern that conservative Christians and others are trying to impose their values on students. Federal courts, they point out, consistently have interpreted the First Amendment’s prohibition on the establishment of religion to forbid state sponsorship of prayer and most other religious activities in public schools. This debate centers on public schools; very few people are arguing that religious doctrine cannot be taught at private schools or that teachers at such schools cannot lead students in prayer. And even in public institutions, there is little debate about the right of individual students, teachers and other school employees to practice their religion – by, say, praying before lunch or wearing religious clothing or symbols.
An individual should not demonstrate his/her religion and force other people to practice it. Having a school prayer is a sign of coercing other individuals to practice a given religion. In addition, those against school prayer assert that schools exist mainly to educate people and not to proselytize. They believe that incorporating prayer in school activities is not just invasive. It is also coercive. Individuals who support school prayer should understand that the decision on whether or not to practice religion is a private affair. Similarly, schools are public institutions and therefore, school should not be mixed together with religion. Introducing religion to schools through prayers is like building walls between people who are not aware of any religious differences (Ezeh 48). Coercing children into school prayer is an unfair treatment which at times may make some of them to grow with an indifferent view about religion. However, individuals who see the sense in having school prayer should also be respected because a school prayer is also helpful in different ways such as reducing cases of increased teenage pregnancies and lowering crime rates.
In conclusion, the best faculty members at Christian colleges are academics who want to invest their lives (or part of their lives) in a Christian intellectual community. They can speak of a sense of "calling" to an academic life. This does not mean that Christian college professors sacrifice their research agenda or pursuit of professional development. Many Christian colleges offer a lot of professional development incentives and opportunities to pursue these kinds of things. (Some do not -- be sure to ask about this!). It does mean, however, that they are willing to think about their academic life as serving a larger purpose grounded in the college's Christian mission. If a candidate is a good scholar, a good teacher (especially), and can articulate this sense of vocation, there is a very good chance he or she will advance to an on-campus interview.
Ezeh, Christopher. Disaster of the Absence of Moral and Religious Education in the American Public Schools: Controversies and Possible Solutions. Bloominton, Indiana: Xlibris Corp, 2010. Print.