The United States is a country that is located on the North America continent within in the Western Hemisphere. Geographically the United States is located at the borders of Canada to the North, Mexico to the South, the Atlantic Ocean to the East, and the Pacific Ocean to the West. The United States ranks third - behind Canada with a land area of 9,629,091sq km. It also ranks third in population with a total of 313,847,465. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007) The United States cultural statistics are comprised of ethnic and religious makeup. The ethnic population is white 79.96%, black 12.85%, Asian 4.43%, Amerindian and Alaska native 0.97%, native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander 0.18%, two or more races 1.61% according to an estimate from July 2007. Taken from the 2000 census, languages spoken place English at 82.1%, Spanish at 10.7%, other Indo-European at 3.8%, Asian and Pacific island at 2.7% and other at 0.7%. Religion taken from 2007 indicated Protestant at 51.3%, Roman Catholic at 23.9%, Mormon at 1.7%, other Christian at 1.6%, Jewish at 1.7%, Buddhist at 0.7%, Muslim at 0.6%, other or unspecified at 2.5%, unaffiliated at 12.1%, and none 4%. (Central Intelligence Agency, 2007)
The government of the United States is a Constitution-based federal republic with a strong democratic tradition. The country was developed from the idea of religious freedom. European prosecution of religion prompted explorers to go in search of a land that would allow them to worship God in a way that seemed just and proper. Amendment 1 in the US Constitution refers to the freedom of religion, press, and expression. The Establishment Clause refers to the establishment of religion by which Congress shall make no law or prohibit free exercise of it.
Public and scripted prayers within the United States classrooms are not allowed as a result of the Supreme Court rulings on Abington School District verses Schempp. A moment of silence now resides in its place to allow for personal choice and freedom of religious values and beliefs without fear of one religion or irreligion being valued over another or imposed upon.
Holiday’s are common among school districts far and wide. Many questions have been raised as to whether certain holidays should be celebrated, and if so, which ones. Recently there has been some debate over the terminology for Christmas break. Should the terminology be changed to Winter Break to be more politically correct and culturally diverse? The United States has embedded into its academic calendar year a number of holidays, however, only a few are religious holidays. The United States academic calendar recognizes only Christmas and Easter as religious holidays. The rest of the holidays like Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Martin Luther King, Jr., Veterans Day, and Memorial Day all hold non-religious meanings.
The Pledge of Allegiance holds great history within the country. In the school system the Pledge of Allegiance is said by thousands of children at the start of each day with the right hand positioned over the heart. The flag symbolizes a way of life and a religious tradition that our country was build on. The pledge has come under some scrutiny over the years because of the wording “one nation under God” suggesting that the United States is ONE nation under God.