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Social & Moral Issues


29 Apr 2003
Education Crisis Petition and Information www.education.ChristianView.org


What happens if prayer is banned at school assemblies? (by Rob McCafferty)

The Department of Education wants to implement the Religion in Education policy document which will lead to the banning of prayer and Bible reading at all public school assemblies.

Education Minister Kader Asmal has chosen to ignore public opinion and scrap the process conducted by previous education minister Prof Bengu, which allowed parents to choose the religious ethos and religious instruction of the school. In its place, all public schools will have to teach the state approved "Religion Education". As part of this new Religion in Education policy, prayer will be banned in assemblies for the first time in South Africa's history. What are the possible consequences of such a momentous decision? The evidence is conclusive that such a decision bears catastrophic consequences for a nation, as demonstrated in the USA.

In 1962 and 1963, prayer in assemblies was banned in all American public schools. It was the singular most important event affecting the American nation at that time. Prior to 1963, American schools and school children enjoyed great stability. It all dramatically changed with the banning of prayer from school assemblies. Although other events could have impacted on American school children, such as the increasing levels of violence and sex on television and the media, the banning of prayer remains the most significant event affecting American scholars in the years of 1962 and 1963. Graphs and statistics show a marked deviation from these specific dates.

These prayers were non-denominational and learners were allowed the right to be excused from them. A typical example was:

Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessing upon us (morals and academic performance), our parents (family), our teachers (respect for authority) and our Country (social and economic).

The statistics given go up to the year 1988.

The banning of prayer in assemblies affected students:

Since 1963:

  • Premarital sexual activity increased over 200 percent (for girls alone, premarital sexual activity increased over 500 percent);

  • Pregnancies to unwed mothers went up almost 400 percent;
  • Gonorrhoea (Sexually Transmitted Disease) went up over 200 percent;
  • Number of suicides increased over 400 percent.

These give rise to secondary consequences, such as:

  • Only half of those who give birth before age 18 complete high school (as compared with 96 percent of those who postpone childbearing);

  • On average they earn half as much money and are far more likely to be dependent on welfare. A negative cycle is created, with daughters falling pregnant during teenage years, thus leading to generations of unskilled peoples being dependent and trapped on welfare;

  • Of those families headed by a mother age 14-25, two-thirds live below the poverty level.

  • The cost to the public of teenage pregnancies in 1985 alone was 16,65 billion.

The banning of prayer in assemblies affected academic achievement:

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is an academic test measuring the developed verbal and mathematical reasoning skills of a student preparing to enter college. The three areas of SAT testing with individual documentation are SAT mathematics scores, SAT verbal scores, and SAT total scores (the combination of the mathematics and verbal scores).

SAT Total Scores have declined steadily, dropping over 90 points from 1963 to 1980, to the lowest in the industrialised world. Although actual grades have risen, their SATS were decreasing. Hence academic standards have dropped to accommodate mediocrity.

In 1950, 84 percent of college students knew that Manilla was the capital of the Philippines. In 1984 it had dropped to only 27 percent. We cannot expect to be a world leader if our populace doesn't even know who the rest of the world is.

SAT scores only began to improve after 1980 (after 17 years of continual decline). However this increase was attributed to the increase in private Christian schooling and homeschooling. Although in 1986, private schooling only made up 12,4% of the school going population, their academic performance was 3 to 5 times greater than their size (i.e. the number of top academic achievers came disproportionately from these private Christian schools). Some have argued that their greater academic performance is due to greater family affluence. However, studies confirm that parents who send their children to private schools have an income only marginally greater than the national average. Furthermore, in 1986 the average private school spent $1,100 per student annually as compared to the average public school's annual expenditure of $3,752 per student. Yet private Christian schools produce three times more academic achievers at a third of the price. A very plausible answer is that prayer is not banned in private Christian schools.

The banning of prayer in assemblies affected moral standards:

Before prayer was removed from schools, polls among educators listed the top offences in public schools as:

  • Talking; Chewing gum; Making noise; Running in the halls; Getting out of turn in line; Wearing improper clothing; Not putting paper in wastebaskets.

After prayer was removed from schools, polls among educators listed the top offences in public schools as:

  • Rape; Robbery; Assault; Burglary; Arson; Bombings; Murder; Suicide; Absenteeism; Vandalism; Extortion; Drug abuse; Alcohol abuse; Gang warfare; Pregnancies; Abortions; Venereal disease;
    (None of the previous top seven problems even make the list).

The banning of prayer in assemblies affected families:

Stability existed in the family during the years that students prayed daily for their families, however, since praying for families was banned:

  • Divorce went up almost 120 percent;

  • Single parent families went up 140 percent;
  • Unmarried couples living together increased over 350 percent;
  • Adultery increased nearly 300 percent.

These give rise to secondary consequences, such as:

  • A dramatic increase in youth running away from home. All research points to basic family instability, such as divorce, single parent families, unmarried couples living together and adultery, as being the primary cause.

  • Family breakdown is also associated with increase in physical and sexual abuse.

The banning of prayer in assemblies affected school violence:

In 1985, on average, 24 teachers and 215 students were assaulted every day in California schools.

Furthermore a 1978 study revealed:

  • Risk of violence to teenagers is greater in public schools than anywhere else.

  • Nearly 2,5 million of the nation's secondary school students had something worth more than a dollar stolen from them in a month.

  • An estimated 282,000 secondary school students reported that they were attacked at school in a typical one-month period.

The high levels of violence in public schools equally affect teachers:

  • 5,200 were physically attacked in the period of one month.

  • Nearly one-fifth of the attacks required medical treatment.

  • Attacks on teachers were almost five times as likely to result in serious injury as attacks on students.

The banning of prayer in assemblies affected the state of the nation:

Since 1962:

  • The rate of violent crime has risen over 500 percent;

  • National productivity has dropped over 80 percent;
  • The per capita alcohol consumption has increased by 35 percent.


How can the simple eradication of prayer lead to so much damage?

It removes God's blessing. "Whoever honours Me, I will honour. And whoever disregards Me, I will disregard" (1 Samuel 2:30). Prior to the expulsion of God from American public schools, America was elevated among the nations of the world in achievement, morality, productivity, stability, and reputation.

Post 1962-63, America leads the western world in teenage pregnancies and highest illiteracy rates and are world leaders in violent crime, divorce, and illegal drug use.

And by removing any reference to God, you remove references to respect for authority (including teachers); absolute values used to condemn disrespect, adultery, covetousness, theft, murder, etc. replacing them with relativism and secular humanism - hence the resultant moral mess of removing prayer from school assemblies.

"In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:6).

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports - And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion - reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." George Washington.

Hopefully South Africa will not be so arrogant as to push God out of public schools.

(All information is taken from the book: America: to pray or not to pray? By David Barton, 1988).

Rob McCafferty
Communications Director
United Christian Action
P O Box 23632, Claremont, 7735, Cape Town, South Africa
Tel (021) 689 4480, Fax (021) 685 5884
e-mail: uca+AEA-global.co.za
Website: http://www.christianaction.org.za


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