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Return Prayer To The Schools

Updated on January 29, 2015

Praying in School - Let's Bring It Back

I remember a time when we had prayer in school and we saluted the flag (with one Nation under God). It seemed like the right thing to do. We were kids who were raised to respect are parents, our elders, our teachers, our fellow students, our country and our school property. I can't remember questioning it or even being upset because we were asked to do so. I believe we were better students for it. I believe I am a better citizen for it. I ask you, "Is It Time To Return Prayer Back To The schools?"

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Prayer in Public School - Overview of Governing Constitutional Principles

The history of prayer in public school is a story of legal interpretation. The relationship between religion and government in the United States is governed by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which both prevents the government from establishing religion and protects privately initiated religious expression and activities from government interference and discrimination. The First Amendment thus establishes certain limits on the conduct of public school officials as it relates to religious activity, including prayer.

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"School Prayer" (Murray v. Curlett, 1963)

School prayer was the focus of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, a militant left wing atheist with close ties to the American Communist Party, when she filed a lawsuit against the school board of Baltimore. The local court judge, J. Gilbert Pendergast, dismissed the petition stating, "It is abundantly clear that petitioners' real objective is to drive every concept of religion out of the public school system." The case went to the Maryland Court of Appeals, and the court ruled, "Neither the First nor the Fourteenth Amendment was intended to stifle all rapport between religion and government."

The "School Prayer" case then made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Leonard Kerpelman addressed the court saying prayer in the public schools had been tolerated for so long that it had become traditional and that anything that is unconstitutional does not become constitutional through tradition. He went on to say the Constitution had erected a "wall of separation" between church and state, at which point Justice Potter Steward interrupted, asking where this wording appears. Kerpelman was stumped and an embarrassing silence followed. When he regained his composure, he stated that the text was not explicit on the point but that it had been interpreted to mean so.

Remarkably, the National Council of Churches and several Jewish organizations favored Madalyn O'Hair's case! Not a single Christian organization filed a brief in support of school prayer. The Supreme Court ruled 8 to 1 in favor of abolishing school prayer and Bible reading in the public schools. Justice Tom Clark wrote, "Religious freedom, it has long been recognized that government must be neutral and, while protecting all, must prefer none and disparage none." The federal government considers atheism to be a religion, and this Supreme Court ruling favored atheism, at the expense of the Christian majority.

Read more about school prayer

Prayer in School

Do You Think We Should Return School Prayer to The Classroom?

Yes, Few Minutes For Silent Prayer.

Yes, Few Minutes For Silent Prayer.

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    • anonymous 4 years ago

      YES !!!

    • Cara 4 years ago

      Yes.

    • radasum 4 years ago

      Yes.

    • CraftaholicVete 5 years ago

      Absolutely, I think it is important, our kids shouldn't have to hide like we did in high school just to give time to God before the day starts with others.

    • blue22d 5 years ago

      Thanks "favored1" for your response. Yes, I agree with the difference. A few minutes of silent prayer does not indicate any particular religious group that is the whole point of silent prayer. Each can use the time for whatever he chooses. I thank our God that others cannot read our minds - but God knows what is in our hearts!

    • Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      As a teacher that has worked in both private and publice schools, I can tell you there is a difference.

    • Sunflower Susan 5 years ago

      I would say yes, but only if those participating believed in the God of our founding fathers. It would be a little silly for atheists and agnostics to lead prayer with a bunch of kids who don't even know Him. I think the problem might be better addressed in other ways. But I don't think that's going to happen. We've gone too far down this path as a nation.

    • blue22d 6 years ago

      Thanks so much for the blessing and stopping by to give your opinions. I love hearing from you. Silent prayer obviously allows all to give their own acknowledgment to their creator and doesn't focus on any particular religious group.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Have you ever noticed those who ask the most frequently for Americans to become more tolerant of other religions will become enraged when you suggest THEY should be tolerant of CHRISTIANITY? We are expected to bend over backwards to give anyone but Christians a right to be heard and accepted. Schools are a place to gain wisdom; let them pray hard to find in throughout their school days.

    • blue22d 6 years ago

      James, thank you for your comments. I am not sure how much the American public knows about the tax dollars that goes toward the "appease" certain groups for political reasons. I am with you on this one.

    • James43302 6 years ago

      If muslims are allowed to have thse washing centers that the gov. paid out a lot of money for so that they can wash and pray five times a day why not a christian pray for five minutes. Bring prayer back, show the importance in prayer.

    • Senora M 6 years ago

      We had a moment of silence when I was teaching middle school a few years ago. No telling what everyone used it for. It wasn't long, but long enough to say a quick prayer if one is so inclined.

    • blue22d 6 years ago

      Thanks for visiting Spritequeen. I agree with you 100%. We need prayer in school, even if it is a five minute silent prayer. Silent prayer cannot hurt anyone and can only provide a positive atmosphere and set a tone for the day.

    • spritequeen lm 6 years ago

      Absolutely!! If you force God out of our public places, don't be wondering where He went if something bad happens. Can't have it both ways!

    • blue22d 7 years ago

      "underneath prayer"?

      There may be a large percentage in prison who believe in God - but when did they start believing? I would say a large portion didn't believe until after they entered prison and had the Word shared with them. There are several programs they take the Word of God into the prisons. Doesn't surprise me.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      Prayer is always important everywhere. Our government has fallen apart religously. Prayer should be allowed in all schools. Any person who does not want to listen does not have to. I have not experienced this because I go to a Catholic school, but I know it happens. Separation of church and state means the government does not tell you what to do religously, not that there should be a barrier between them.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      yes i think its important to pray

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks Kat, I also am very tired of political correctness. The indoctrination that is going on in schools, especially lower level grades, is having a worst impact they any prayer ever had.

    • Tarra99 8 years ago

      I remember morning prayers and I don't see anything wrong with returning it to the classrooms. Frankly, I'm getting tired of having to constantly adjust things like prayers, anthums (sp?), and holidays eg: Christmas in order to be "politically correct".

    • blue22d 8 years ago

      I especially appreciate the civil tone of your response. We can both agree that there have been tremendous changes in the cultural norms of both the U.S. and the U.K., during the last couple of decades. Public and private behavior is a direct reflection of the underlying attitudes of individuals. The sum of that behavior is reflected in observable statistical categories such as teen pregnancies and the tremendous growth in the number of teenagers who experience STDs. Whether a moment of silence or a silent prayer time would improve general morality is not an easily ascertainable correlation. However, if one doesn't give it a chance how would one know? The fact that we in America have already undermined the basic moral inclination that existed in 60s and 70s, leaves us without a reasonable test of the proposition that unsupervised prayer encourages morality.

      To pray or not to pray is something learned by being part of a family. The parental supervision of American children has apparently deteriorated markedly in the last 40 years. While I can't speak for the U.K., you probably can. What's your take on this aspect? Thanks again for your interest.

    No, Not In School.

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      • alienbritt 3 years ago

        It's perfectly fine if you ALLOW praying in school, but it should NOT be a part of school. Children who do not believe in the same god should not be forced to pray. FREEDOM of religion means that we are not allowed to make any one religion determine our society. I feel like everyone should know this, it's common sense. It is not right to force your belief on anyone. What if we decide to make prayer to the Islamic God the way to go? hmmm people of other religions would be upset about that, now wouldn't they. This nation was not built on Christianity. The founding fathers did not believe in the Christian god. Therefore, we have no official religion, meaning it should not be forced upon anyone. It's time to mature and realize this.

      • cmadden 4 years ago

        Teacher led prayer tends to promote one organized religion over another, and promotes religious strife.

      • Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

        I remember the teacher leading prayers in school, the switch to a minute of silence and the elimination of prayer all together. Change is difficult. Bringing prayer back into schools might seem like a good idea to some but could easily bring a bias for one religion over the other back in as well.

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        also unless you tell us what percentage of the people underneath prayed in school then that survey is rubbish you can't link something without evidence hear is a real survey more than 99% of people in prison around the world believe in god less than 1% of people in prison are atheist shocking but true

      • anonymous 7 years ago

        My kids school have prayers in assembly and also when a child's pet or relative dies they tell them they gone to heaven this deeply offends me as I wanted my children to decide for them selfs I am an atheist and I have never mentioned this to my children I have also never told any one else's children that god does not exist. But I will in future as now that the school have told my children that there is a god that is watching them and that jesus is our savior I will now every opportunity I get I will tell people there is now god and that religion is false dangerous and wrong as those are my beliefs and I will promote them in any way I can. Imagine if at the end of every assembly a teacher told the children to say (there is no god religion is wrong) you would probably be as angry as me being a good human being is all about being able to put the shoe on the other foot not praising god. thanks for listening Ben

      • MargoPArrowsmith 8 years ago

        Anyone can pray in a class room. I pray all the time, where ever I am, and kids can certainly pray in class.

        However, it should not be lead by the teacher.

        At NCSU, a state school, the team gets together and prays after games in the middle of the floor, the coach does not lead it.

        So, no, organized prayer should not be brought back to schools.

      • Nan 8 years ago from London, UK

        Having prayer in schools would mean showing preference for one religious belief over another's beliefs or lack of beliefs, unless the school intends that representatives from beliefs other than Christianity be allowed to lead the school in prayer or meditation.

        Sure, have a moment for silent meditation, but don't call it prayer.

        Here in the UK, the Church of England is the official State religion and kids are lead in prayers during some assemblies. I have instructed my chilren to be still and attentive during those times, but do not require that they participate otherwise.

        They also have a Nativity Play each Christmas and I found it a symbol of the multi-culturalism and great tolerance for the school 2 years ago when Joseph was played by a Hindu.

      Impact of Removing School Prayer

      Research and Report by David Barton

      So what has been the impact of removing School Prayer?

      David Barton of Wall Builders has studied the statistical records of history for the past 60 years. In each study you can clearly see a negative impact starting around the year 1962 when School Prayer was removed! Teenage pregnancy rates have gone up 500% since 1962. Unmarried mothers have risen dramatically since 1962. The divorce Rate is so high that many young children don't really understand what a family is. Violent Crimes have risen steadily since the early 60's, and our prison system is bursting at the seams. The SAT scores have steadily declined each year for 18 straight years since 1962 and continue to decline or be low. We once had the best school system in the world, and we are now ranked about 15th among the industrialized nations. This is despite us spending more money then any other nation in the world on our school system. As the poorly educated enter the workforce how can our companies compete with other international industries?

      What Happened When the Praying Stopped

      www.inplainsite.org

      ALEDO, TX (FR) - How did the removal of voluntary prayer from the schools of the United States affect our nation as a whole? That question has been answered in detail by a research company in Texas which has gathered and tabulated statistics from hundreds of sources relating to the rates of moral decline in America.

      Specialty Research Associates, under the direction of David Barton, has released a report entitled America: To Pray or Not to Pray which uses over 100 pages of graphs and statistical analysis to prove that crime, venereal disease, premarital sex, illiteracy, suicide, drug use, public corruption, and other social ills began a dramatic increase after the Engel vs. Vitale Supreme Court decision was made in 1962 which banned school prayer.

      Prayer in schools prior to 1962 was utilized in school districts all over the U.S. in many varieties. Some teachers used extemporaneous prayers, simply expressing their thoughts and desires; others implemented structured prayers, such as the Lord's Prayer or the 23rd Psalm, or others approved by local school boards. New York students prayed each day: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers, and our nation." It was this simple prayer which came under fire and went to the Supreme Court for the landmark decision.

      Says David Barton, "It is impossible to know how many of the 39 million children were involved in daily verbal prayers, but most accounts indicate that a clear majority of the students voluntarily participated in daily school prayer. Is it possible that the prayers that were being offered by these children and their teachers across the nation actually had any measurable, tangible effect?"

      It was this question that led Barton to uncover the statistical proof that the removal of prayer did indeed take its toll on America. Below are just a few of the examples featured in Barton's report:

      A. Young People

      1. For 15 years before 1963 pregnancies in girls ages 15 through 19 years had been no more than 15 per thousand After 1963 pregnancies increased 187% in the next 15 years.

      2. For younger girls, ages 10 to 14 years, pregnancies since 1963 are up 553%.

      3. Before 1963 sexually transmitted diseases among students were 400 per 100,000. Since 1963, they were up 226% in the next 12 years.

      B. The Family

      1. Before 1963 divorce rates had been declining for 15 years. After 1963 divorces increased 300% each year for the next 15 years.

      2. Since 1963 unmarried people living together is up 353%

      3. Since 1963 single parent families are up 140%.

      4. Since 1963 single parent families with children are up 160%.

      C. Education

      1. The educational standard of measure has been the SAT scores. SAT scores had been steady for many years before 1963. From 1963 they rapidly declined for 18 consecutive years, even though the same test has been used since 1941.

      2. In 1974-75 the rate of decline of the SAT scores decreased, even though they continued to decline. That was when there was an explosion of private religious schools. There were only 1000 Christian schools in 1965. Between 1974 to 1984 they increased to 32,000.

      a. That could have an impact if the private schools had higher SAT scores. In checking with the SAT Board it was found that indeed the SAT scores for private schools were nearly 100 points higher than public schools.

      b. In fact the scores were at the point where the public schools had been before their decline started in 1963 when prayer and Bible reading/ instruction was removed from the schools.

      c. The scores in the public schools were still declining.

      3. Of the nation's top academic scholars, three times as many come from private religious schools, which operate on one-third the funds as do the public schools.

      D. The Nation

      1. Since 1963 violent crime has increased 544%.

      3. Illegal drugs have become an enormous & uncontrollable problem.

      2. The nation has been deprived of an estimated 30 million citizens through legal abortions just since 1973.

      Copyright by David Barton:

      If you would like a copy of America: To Pray or Not to Pray?, send $7.95 to Specialty Research Associates, P.O. Box 397, Aledo, TX 76008. All of the figures and statistics compiled in this book are taken from data made available by the Department of Health and Human Services, the Center for Disease Control, Statistical Abstracts of the United States, Vital Statistics of the United States, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other official sources.

      Minnesota's Constitution

      Minnesota's Constitution says no prayer in public schools

      BY Oliver Steinberg

      PUBLISHED: 01/28/2009

      Your Jan. 27 editorial says "Officials are wrongly seeking to regulate prayer in a Minnesota charter school." Are you sure?

      Charter schools receive tax money from the state. The crystal-clear language of Article 13, Section 2 of the Minnesota State Constitution says:

      "In no case shall any public money or property be appropriated or used for the support of schools wherein the distinctive doctrines, creeds or tenets of any particular Christian or other religious sect are promulgated or taught."

      This Constitutional barrier obliged penniless Irish immigrant families to pay the expenses for Catholic parochial schools in the 19th century, and it ought to apply equally to the 21st century's Somali immigrant families if they want Islamic schools. If you don't like it, feel free to begin the process of amending the Constitution. In the meantime, should the law be flouted? If Muslims get exempted from the law, why shouldn't every other sect?

      Your editorial further asserts that "federal guidelines allow for prayer in school." It would be most informative if you were to identify those guidelines, if they exist, and explain how they relate to various United States Supreme Court decisions regarding state-sponsored prayer or other religious exercises in public schools. "Guidelines" are nice, but decisions of the Supreme Court on constitutional disputes, interpreting the Constitution itself, are the law of the land.

      Oliver Steinberg

      St. Paul resident

      Contribution: www.mndaily.com

      We the American People...

      We the American People is a lens that seeks the truth about "Freedom" and the ability to retain that Freedom, the Freedom I feel all Americans seek and want to preserve. I have provided documentation and references and challenge all to join in on this quest toward preserving our freedom.

      How to Return Prayer to the Schools Without a Constitutional Crisis:

      By Bruce Davison

      It has already been decided by the United States Supreme Court

      that student lead and student initiated prayer is allowed on school

      property so long as it is not conducted during school hours or is

      disruptive to the activities in the classroom, etc.

      There are seven simple steps to be accomplished:

      1. Sunday school teachers should thoroughly explain the students'

      right to engage in prayer in public and how to appropriately do

      so. Also, they need to know how to respond appropriately to the

      occasional criticism by uninformed school personnel.

      2. Use Sunday schools and/or Christian churches to teach students

      who attend grades 1 thru 12 at public schools several simple 60

      second prayers. These prayers would be part of the memorization

      process taught in all Sunday schools.

      3. Explain to the students when (what times of day and what

      settings) it is appropriate and when it is not appropriate to pray

      while they are in school.

      4. Encourage the students with the most leadership skills to start

      engaging in these one minute prayers (aloud) just before school

      starts, at anytime during the lunch hour, and anytime after school

      but before boarding a bus.

      5. Encourage leadership type students to, by example, encourage

      others to also engage in these one minute prayers.

      6. Thoroughly explain to the students that any interference with

      their legal prayer efforts needs to be reported to their parents

      and to any other adult who is sympathetic to their efforts to

      indulge in prayer while at school.

      7. The parents of all the involved students need to be supplied

      with contact information for such organizations as ACLJ, ADF,

      Focus on the Family ........, etc.

      Sample Prayers are included to get you started but let your own

      spirit by guided by God to compose other prayers of equal or

      shorter duration.

      Dear Heavenly Father, we ask your blessings on each of us as we

      begin our day of learning. Help us to concentrate on the lessons

      and may our teachers be inspired in teaching us the truth in each

      of our subjects. Be with our leaders in Congress and especially

      our President as this day unfolds. May these leaders use all of

      their wisdom in guiding our country in safety, security and

      prosperity. We ask these things in Jesus' name, Amen.

      And, We Enjoyed The Pledge of Allegiance?

      Link Along for Knowledge

      Interesting and helpful facts.

      Argument for Prayer in School

      What are some arguments for prayer in school?

      There are many arguments supporting the view of citizens who favor the return of prayer to public schools.

      Prayer in school is constitutional and supports the principle of freedom of religion on which the U.S. was founded:

      In banning school prayer, the U.S. Supreme Court has misinterpreted the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. A simple and voluntary school prayer does not amount to the government establishing a religion, any more than do other practices common in the U.S. such as the employment of Congressional chaplains, government recognition of holidays with religious significance such as Christmas or the proclamation of National Days of Prayer.

      Continue Argument for Prayer in School

      II Corinthians 7:14

      If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

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        • CraftaholicVete profile image

          CraftaholicVete 5 years ago

          I am glad you did this lens as well. I can understand Ben's point of view in the debate up there and I agree that at some point when a child really understands that they should be given the choice neither influenced by the schools or their families to go either way. Then, when they choose not to hassle , torture, or beat them for choosing the way they do. Christianity is a way of life, not a religion. As Christians, our job is to love others not to judge them. If we judge others (we've all done it) I am sure when each of us has our life played back to us, everything we have said and done will be there and we will have to answer for those things. Great lens.

        • favored profile image

          Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

          I'm so pleased you did this lens. My "prayer" is that prayer would be allowed in schools once again. I believe it makes a difference.

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          jEsChrDs82 5 years ago

          Praying is part of my daily life so I'm all for this but I'm also for freedom of choice so regardless it is allowed to return it must not be impose.

          econstitutionforkids.com

        • evelynsaenz1 profile image

          Evelyn Saenz 6 years ago from Royalton

          I think that there was a lot more going on in our culture than just eliminating school prayer. A movement of sexual freedom probably had more to do with pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and divorce rates than eliminating school prayer did. During this time people also brought TV's into their homes with programs promoting divorce and sex. Travel became more affordable and families began to move away from their parents breaking up families and communities. I think that school prayer had very little to do with the statistics that you mention. On the other hand, I believe that a moment of silence should not offend anyone and could help children pause and prepare for a day of learning. Those who choose could use that time for a prayer in whatever religion they believe in.

          Wonderful thought-provoking lens. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          Praying is good, school prayers were so inspiring. It is an important part of curriculum.

        • ZenandChic profile image

          Patricia 6 years ago

          I went to a Lutheran school and so we always prayed and so to this day I always pray. I do think it should be allowed in schools. Our nation was built under God. I do think it is good that so many want to pull away from God. God is what made us a strong country. That is my thought on it anyway.

        • blue22d profile image
          Author

          blue22d 6 years ago

          Oh thank you Joyful Pamela for your blessing. The song is beautiful and thank you for visiting.

        • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

          JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

          Amen! A song I love ~ Let Us Pray by Steven Curtis Chapman. *Squidoo Angel Blessed!*

        • Senora M profile image

          Senora M 6 years ago

          Love 2 Cor. Great lens! Thanks for sharing!!

        • BusyQueen profile image

          BusyQueen 6 years ago

          Great lens and God bless! I love the part where you said "We were kids who were raised to respect are parents, our elders, our teachers, our fellow students, our country and our school property."

        • blue22d profile image
          Author

          blue22d 6 years ago

          Thanks Rick Cruz88. I like to check out other sites and I see this is a Christian School so I will forward this over to my reference lens. Other I see you are relatively new to Squidoo. I hope you will present us with some lenses. I am sure you will enjoy it here.

        • profile image

          RickCruz88 6 years ago

          When the kids get a little older you should consider looking into Liberty University. Prayer in class shouldn't be an issue there.

        • spritequeen lm profile image

          spritequeen lm 6 years ago

          I ABSOLUTELY think that prayers should be in school. Do you think GOD separates Himself from OUR needs? HE certainly doesn't pick and choose when it's "appropriate" to be in our lives.

        • squid-janices7 profile image

          squid-janices7 6 years ago

          Interesting points made here. Even though I am a Christian that reads the bible just about every day, I truly believe in the separation of church and state so I don't agree with prayer in school (unless all religions are represented in that prayer). That said, you've given me some things to think about and it is always good to hear both sides to every story.

        • Sylvestermouse profile image

          Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

          I believe the removal of prayer is school is the sign of the much larger war that we are losing. I am sure you and I could talk for hours about so many things.

        • Webcodes LM profile image

          Webcodes LM 7 years ago

          Amen sister! Bring prayer back to schools! 5*

        • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

          MargoPArrowsmith 8 years ago

          Interesting lens. However, in my school, when the SC decision came down, schools kept doing it until someone complained. It was the Christian boys club who did it in my high school and they did it because the whole thing was such a travesty.

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          Tarra99 8 years ago

          I like Ruth's answer...AMEN! ;o) ...and Merry Christmas!

        • blue22d profile image
          Author

          blue22d 8 years ago

          [in reply to Ruth-Palmer] Thanks for stopping by. First let me say again, I truly love your art. Such a gift God has given you. Yes, respect is one of the problems in today's society. How interesting that when we read God's word, he tells us, through his son Jesus, to love the Father and then, others. To often, people loves themselves more and we now see throughout the world more of a "me first" generation (the collapse of our economy, out of control government, children disrespecting their elders, etc.). Prayer allows us to focus on our creator and his qualities and when we pray for others, we truly emulate Jesus. We could all use more of Him in our lives. God bless.

        • Ruth-Palmer profile image

          Ruth-Palmer 8 years ago

          Great lens! All I have to say is "AMEN"! Those who are against it will always argue. There eyes are blinded.

          I went to Catholic school as a child. I didn't really understand it at the time but I learned respect which is something sadly missing in today's society. I left the church as a young adult but returned to my faith about 15 years ago with a whole new understanding and appreciation. People will always rebel and make mistakes in life but with a solid foundation, chances are they will return to what they have learned as a child. Can I quote the whole book of Proverbs here? LOL!

        • NanLT profile image

          Nan 8 years ago from London, UK

          The UK has prayer in schools and has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Europe.