Supreme Court Prohibits Student-Led Prayer in School

Public favors prayer as part of school events


PRINCETON, NJ -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Jane Doe that prayer does not belong in schools, regardless of who initiates and leads it. The case involved the constitutionality of student-led prayer broadcast over the public address system before high school football games. In general, the public disagrees with the court regarding this issue. When asked about allowing students to say prayers as part of the official program at graduation ceremonies, 83% of Americans favor the idea and just 17% are opposed.

Survey Methods
The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,016 adults, 18 years and older, conducted June 25-27, 1999. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Next I'm going to read a variety of proposals concerning religion and public schools. For each one, please tell me whether you would generally favor or oppose it. First, ... . Next, ... . [RANDOM ORDER]

A. Making public school facilities available after school hours for use by student religious groups
Favor 78%
Oppose 21
No opinion 1
B. Allowing public schools to display the Ten Commandments
Favor 74%
Oppose 24
No opinion 2
C. Allowing students to say prayers at graduation ceremonies as part of the official program
Favor 83%
Oppose 17
No opinion *
D. Using the Bible in literature, history, and social studies classes
Favor 71%
Oppose 28
No opinion 1
E. Allowing daily prayer to be spoken in the classroom
Favor 70%
Oppose 28
No opinion 2
F. Teaching creationism ALONG WITH evolution in public schools
Favor 68%
Oppose 29
No opinion 3
G. Teaching creationism INSTEAD OF evolution in public schools
Favor 40%
Oppose 55
No opinion 5
*Less than 0.5%

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