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Volume 70, Issue 77, Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Opinion

Religion better off outside classroom

Nick Somarakis
Opinion Columnist

"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof ..." 

The Supreme Court stopped a New York school district from requiring students to say school prayers in 1962. Since that decision, schools all across the country have stopped teaching any beliefs in God and any beliefs from a particular religion.

Did the Court overstep its boundaries or did it make the right decision? Should the Court have outlawed prayers in public schools and the teaching of religious beliefs in public schools? The answer, itself, lies in a prayer: the Hail Mary.

The Hail Mary is a very important prayer in Roman Catholicism and is used in many of the rituals of the Catholic Church. For instance, the rosary -- a set of beads used to aid prayer -- encompasses saying the Hail Mary more than 50 times.

The Hail Mary, however, is not said in any of the Protestant religions. In fact, some Protestant religions consider the Hail Mary as worshipping the mother of Christ, which Catholics deny.

If schools in the United States were solely utilized to teach the Bible, they would completely ignore the Hail Mary, forcing Catholics to surrender one of their most closely held traditions and beliefs. Teaching the Hail Mary in public schools would force non-Catholic children to learn something that their religion does not ascribe to.

The Hail Mary dilemma is not the only difference between Christian religions: Are we allowed to imbibe alcohol, to dance, to listen to non-Christian music? Can people be saved? Are we allowed to kiss statues and pictures of Christ as in Greek Orthodox Christianity or is that considered idol worship? Do saints, purgatory or original sin exist? Will we teach the sign of the cross? The differences are far too numerous to list.

These, sadly, are only discrepancies in Christianity. We have not even begun to talk about Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Baha'i, Confucianism, Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Sikhism, Shinto, etc.

The point is that no matter what religion is taught in public schools, even if it is just the Bible itself, someone's religious belief will be cast aside and their freedom to religion would be trampled on.

The decision by the court has ensured that no religion will be cast aside or promoted. It ensured every American's freedom to pursue the religion of their choice, without fear of government interference or religious oppression.

The court's decision has allowed parents to raise their children with their own religious beliefs and to teach their own children about their beliefs about God.

It can be summarized like this: To ensure the religious beliefs of all, we will teach the religious beliefs of none.

Somarakis, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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