Amendment 1
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The Constitutional Defense: Amendment 1

The First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Prayer should be allowed in public schools, but not during class time, and not if public property is used to subject people to prayers they don't want to hear. The First, and arguably most important, Amendment protects the right of free exercise of religion, but certainly does not provide that the government should allow students to use public property to do so. Students cannot use schools to impose religion and prayer on anyone who does not want to be exposed to it. If everyone within hearing range agrees to allow prayer, then they may do so. But if even a single person disagrees, they cannot pray
within hearing range of that person, and they must move to another area. If students want to use the public address system to pray, they must receive permission from the
administration, and from everyone at the school within hearing range. Class time must not be used for prayer, because that it interferes with learning. It steals time from education. Before and after school, between classes, and during lunch are the only acceptable times to pray at school. If a person wishes to pray at school during other times, they must go to a private school that allows it.

Because of the rights granted by the First Amendment, public schools should not be allowed to choose which religious messages and symbols students wear. If students are
allowed to display messages and symbols from one religion, they must be allowed to display messages and symbols from any religion. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many public schools across the country. In fact, in the public high school I attended, religious discrimination was practiced by the faculty and staff. If a student wore a message or symbol related to a religion that the faculty and staff didn't like, that student was forced to remove the symbol. If it was a shirt, they had to turn it inside out. Occasionally students were suspended for wearing messages and symbols of religions that were unpopular amoung the faculty and staff. This violates the First Amendment by selectively restricting the "free exercise" of religion and abridging the "freedom of speech." Not a single Christian was forced to remove religious messages or symbols, even if they were offensive to other students. Yet students of other religions were forced to remove theirs, even if none of the other students found them offensive. No reason was
given by the administration, it was simply policy. This is completely unnacceptable not just because it violates the First Amendment, but because it teaches students that some
religions are "wrong," or some religions are "better" than others.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact Jonathan Clark at
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