Was Prayer In School Ever A Subculture?

“Was it ever cool to pray in school?”

When we think of prayer in school, I think people probably think of a long gone tradition that existed just before the brink of America’s so-called enlightenment of separation of church and state.  Was prayer in school ever a subculture of school or was school a subculture of prayer in school?  That last statement was just a play on words to get you to think about it.  But in all due seriousness, whatever happened to that part of our school culture and what role did it ever play in the development of our current train of thought for education.

A really good article or web page briefly titled “School Prayer In America” at http://www.schoolprayerinamerica.info/ states a brief but concise role of the church and prayer in school.  Who the author is, is unclear, but the facts makes you wonder about our past history of school and prayer in it.  In fact church and prayer in school were a main part of our American school’s culture years ago.  It eventually dwindled down into a subculture, and then finally it seems like it has gone underground.  According to the article, “The schools continued to be run mostly by Christian Churches until the 1890’s at which point States started to take control of the exising schools.”  The article further goes on to denote how the serperation of  church and state finally reached its penacle in 1962 when the Supreme Court again declared that prayer in  school was unconstitutional.  Evolution was then taught and prayer in school was lost.

So back to the original question, was prayer school ever a subculture?  At first it was the culture and then it became a subculture.  Today I believe that subculture still exists, but on the “down low” in schools.  People still discuss prayer and religion at school functions and  meetings.  At our school alone there are several religious based groups sanctioned by the school officially or unoffically.  I am still not quite sure how to state that fact.  I am sure that they pray in school, maybe not during class but on school grounds.  Thus the subculture in school is again reborn.

Prayer in school is an old issue but an important one.  I know many would disagree with me, but that is their right as an American.  The subculture that prayer in school has become has fallen into the backround but still exists.  Will it ever become a main part of our culture ever again?  We do most of our learning at school, so why not learn how to pray and to have morals at school?  It would not hurt, or at least it might even help.  I know not all people believe in the same thing religiously, but neither do they politically, but back to my main point.  This is why prayer in school was and still is a subculture.  It is a spinoff of what once was.  It is still cool to pray in  school, just do not let anyone in charge see you.  They might think you are being unconstitutional.


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6 responses to “Was Prayer In School Ever A Subculture?

  1. I really enjoyed this article. I have been in Christian schools my whole life and I can definitely tell you, the aspect of prayer in schools is dwindling or is “on the down low”, as you stated. Your question “Will prayer ever be part of our main culture again?”– my answer would be it’s possible but not probable. With how our society is becoming more and more secular and diverse, fully bringing back prayer to where everyone’s happy seems now almost far fetch (which is sad). Many schools now don’t even have moral concepts anymore. Perhaps if things get too out of hand people will start implementing prayer and moral teachings back in school. However because of how our world works today, I wouldn’t be surprised if what they taught was more or less “wishy-washy” to appeal to everyone.

  2. Judy Le

    A few things:

    When you say prayer, are you specially referring to Christian prayer or any kind of prayer? The way you focus how we view ‘prayer’ would bring different counter-arguments. Some people would argue that prayer (of the Christian variety) should be allowed in schools while other forms should not be acknowledge, but then there are people who would be more pleased with a complete separation of church and state/school/anything.

    Also, I would like for you to expand on your argument on how morality and prayer relate to each other. Do they have to go hand-in-hand or are there ways to teach morality in a secular school setting?

    Would you consider this a regional issue? I went to a school where public prayer was not something people were shy about (and I attended a public school), and the way Christianity is incorporated into our larger structural institution tells me that, perhaps, this is may be not a subcultural issue but expressional one. Evangelicals and atheists all feel attacked, but why? How can both groups be marginalized when they’re working against each other?

    So, in answer to your question, I think it might be inaccurate to say that prayer is a subculture, but there is a subculture of people who pray in schools (Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc), but the assumption that prayer-folk are marginalized seems a bit over-reaching.

  3. Zach Miller

    I went to a public school in rural Alabama (aka The Bible Belt). Nonetheless, it is a public school. When I was younger, we had a “moment of prayer”, which then changed to “Moment of silence” and/or “Moment of Meditation”. As you mentioned your school had religious organizations, mine did too. Since they were student-ran, they were unofficial school organizations and able to remain, as you kind of mentioned.

    I say this in response to your question “Will prayer become part of our culture again” and Kati’s answer:
    I believe in areas where I live, the rural areas, it will remain part of the culture. As far as urban areas, perhaps complete chaos will one day bring another Great Awakening.

  4. Maria

    As touchy as this subject is it still need to be answered but by who. The mixture between church and state is definitely misconstrud. Prayer has its place just like everything else but we only vote on things that we want control over.Those who did not want their children to pray could of easily instructed them not to do so and vice versa. To me to vote on whether or not to have it was irrelevent. My answer is yes it has become a subculture. The government gives rights to age groups: when to vote, to marry, to get birth control, drink, drive etc., but on other things they give demands and then convince society that they have a vote. I know Im just a little off but who cares about the vote those who want to pray will pray not to mention in times of turmoil and disaster the first thing you hear is prayer. The real question is does a person have to believe in God to believe in prayer? Our country has chose evolution so why pray nature will soon takes its course.(Thats my sarcasm)

  5. christiwilson19

    I could not agree more. Prayer has become a subculture within schools. No longer do schools practice the “moment of silence” (as Zach stated) after we say The Pledge of Allegiance. Children are now forced to pray on their own time, or simply not at all. We are becoming a very modest and “approval seeking” generation. We want other people to accept what we do, and if they don’t, then we decide to alter how we act. I’m not saying everyone does this all the time, but there is still that pressure to fit in. I think prayer has been beaten down because of this pressure. No longer is it considered “cool” to pray by some standards. We like to pray in our house, where no one can see or judge. Our generation has lost sight of the power and greatness of prayer, and sadly young children are too because of schools as well as their parents. If a parent is not practicing prayer, then how will a child know to? I agree with Kati about how diverse we are becoming and honestly don’t believe prayer will fully be restored in schools for that exact reason. We must fight against the crowd and influence each other to pray before we are influenced in the opposite direction.

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