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The Associated Press asked the Year 2000 Democratic and Republican presidential candidates for their position on school prayer.  On 2000-OCT-9, they published the responses from Texas Governor George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. Their beliefs are believed to reflect their parties' positions.

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George W. Bush (Republican):

"I support voluntary, student-led prayer and am committed to the First Amendment principles of religious freedom, tolerance, and diversity. Whether Mormon, Methodist, or Muslim, students in America should be able to participate in their constitutional free exercise of religion. I believe it is wrong to forcefully expunge any mention of religion, or dilute its impact and importance, when discussing world affairs. Religion is a personal, private matter and parents, not public school officials, should decide their children's religious training. We should not have teacher-led prayers in public schools, and school officials should never favor one religion over another, or favor religion over no religion (or vice versa). I also believe that schools should not restrict students' religious liberties. The free exercise of faith is the fundamental right of every American, and that right doesn't stop at the schoolhouse door.''

Comment: He supports "voluntary, student-led prayer" but not "teacher-led prayers." This is ambiguous. 

bullet He may mean that he supports setting class time aside each morning so that public school students could lead their fellow students in prayer. 
bullet Or, it might mean that he supports student's existing rights to pray on the school bus, at the flagpole, in the corridors, in the cafeteria and in student-led religious clubs. 

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Al Gore (Democrat):

"Faith is not something that can be left at the schoolhouse door, and indeed the Constitution does not attempt to impose such an unreasonable standard. I support protecting religious freedom for all faiths. However, I oppose and I believe the Constitution prohibits mandated school prayer in public schools. My reason for opposing school prayer rests upon the idea that defending the separation between church and state is neither a Democratic nor a Republican idea, but an American idea. I do support a student's right to voluntarily pray in school or practice a moment of silence. I voted in favor of an amendment that gave individuals in public school the opportunity for silent prayer with appropriate constitutional safeguards. I believe that we must remain vigilant to ensure that no student is forced to pray and that the contents of any prayer are not dictated by school officials.''

Comment: He feels that no student should be forced to pray. But, strictly speaking, students are never forced to pray, even in those public schools which violate the U.S. Constitution by having the teacher lead morning prayers in the classroom. Objecting students can always excuse themselves and stand out in the hall. They expose themselves to ridicule and possible assault by fellow students. But they are never forced to pray. 

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Related essays on this web site:

bullet School prayer: introductory essay
bullet Praying in public schools -- legally
bullet Moment of silence in public schools
bullet Teaching about religion and the Bible
bullet Prayers at sports events
bullet Prayers at graduation ceremonies
bullet Recent developments
bullet Renting school facilities to community groups
bullet Students' religious jewelry and clothing
bullet Equal Access Act regarding student clubs
bullet What the Bible says about public prayer
bullet Separation of church and state issues

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  1. AANEWS mailing list, 2000-OCT-9

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Site navigation:

Home page > Christianity > Christian history > Prayer > Schools > here

or: Home page > Law menu > Schools > here

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File created: 2000-OCT-11
Latest update: 2000-OCT-11
Editor: B.A. Robinson

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