A recent proposal in New York City to include faith-based classes and prayer breaks in certain schools has drawn the ire of many critics.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently come out in support of a proposal that would allow Christian, Jewish, and Muslim schools to teach their respective religions and have mandatory prayer breaks as a part of their regular school day.
All of this is a part of de Blasio's initiative to provide free pre-kindergarten schools in order to "address his goals of narrowing the wealth gap by saving parents the cost of private pre-K tuition, and jump-starting the academic performance of the city's youngsters," according to NBC NYC.
However, an issue arises when one considers the fact that many of the pre-K classes in the public schools are taught by religious groups and churches who are under contract to the city. These groups, such as the Orthodox Jewish community, have a vested interest in promoting their faith.
Under the latest proposal, de Blasio hopes to increase the participation of these religious schools, especially those belonging to the Orthodox Jews -- a growing part of the city's overall population.
However, there are those who believe that this is in direct violation of the separation of church and state. This is due to the fact that these schools will still be publicly funded and thus property of the state.
"It's kind of like waving a red flag in front of a bull," said executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AUSCS), Barry Lynn. "This seems to be asking for a lawsuit."
As previously reported, the pre-K classes will be permitted to take a break in the middle of the school day in order to implement "non-program" activities like prayer. The schools will also have the chance to be open six days out of the week in order to make up for the classroom hours they will devote to faith-based teachings.
Source: NBC NYC
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, NBC NYC