I recently heard someone say that now our children
are not even allowed to pray privately in our public schools, or that steps
are being taken to prohibit them from doing so. This
is an issue I have come head to head with many times. I believe in
prayer. I want my children and grandchildren to pray. I wish
I prayed more than I do. But why all the fuss about praying in school?
When I was a kid (not all that long ago even
if I am a grandma), we never had a teacher lead us in prayer. I don't
know if it was "illegal" then or not. I just know we didn't do it
as a class. But I remember very clearly sitting in my classes or
study hall praying many times . I remember walking to school
praying. I remember all through the day, there would be prayers for
other kids, myself, my situations, etc. But probably no one knew
I was praying. Sometimes, I'd have tears streaming down my face because
I would feel the presence of God so strongly sitting right there in my
study hall class. And I treasured those times. I needed those
times desperately to get me through the tough times. There is no
way a teacher, a principal, or a judge for that matter, could have
taken that away from me. Not even Madelon Murray O'hara, or whatever
her name was, herself could have stopped me.
Why do people think our prayers have to be
public, out loud, or led by someone else?
First of all, why should a teacher who doesn't
even believe in God, or in my God and Jesus, be expected to lead our children
in prayer. And I for sure don't want anyone leading my children or
grandchildren in a prayer to any other god. We have to face the fact
that there are many religions in America and we don't all believe in the
same god, let alone the same doctrine.
But what is really the heart of the matter?
Is it prayer in the school? I don't think so. Perhaps taking
prayer out of school was just a symptom of a deeper problem.
I believe the real issue is a "heart" issue. The real issue is a
"kingdom" issue. God no longer fits in our society. We are
a nation that has chosen to run their lives and this country on their own.
And look at the mess we are in. There are far more important things
for our teachers to be concerned with now. They don't have to fear
a child will pray in school, or perhaps band with some other kids for corporate
prayer. No! They have to worry about what else the kids are
up to. Who today may be hiding a gun in their locker or coat--or
a knife? Who will be injured today? Will the teacher be the
next victim? Can she/he stop a crime from happening right there on
the school premises?
What about the drugs--forget the cigarettes?
Who today is going to begin their journey into hell on earth by taking
their first joint, or their first pill, or their first snort, or their
first shot of heroin or cocaine? Do you hear what I'm saying?
We have far more important things to concern ourselves with than whether
or not our children can pray publicly in school. We have to be concerned
about their very lives. It wasn't like this when I was in school.
It concerns me when I hear that a youth pastor
can't get into the school to minister to hurting children, because he's
a Christian. It concerns me when people cry out for more condoms,
more "DARE TO SAY NO", more sex education (the politically correct way),
but none consider that these children are lost. They have no purpose.
They have no hope. They have no one to look up to and to guide them.
'They have been programed to not believe the very thing (the very one)
that can help them--God. It's okay to play Dungeons and Dragons,
it's okay to watch violence on TV, or play video games that seem to promote
beating, raping, and killing. It's okay to get on the internet even
in our schools and libraries and look at adult porno because it's free
speech. But it's not okay to talk about, or pray to God in those
same schools? Now you tell me, what is wrong with this picture?
This whole matter doesn't make sense to me.
I hate things that don't make sense. It drives me up the wall.
To me it feels like a losing battle.
My remedy: Our world won't change unless
there is a heart change. There won't be a heart change until people
realize they are in trouble and need someone bigger than they are to help
them. All I can do is pray, and live my life in a way that will present
the message of Christ and his kingdom to my friends, loved ones, neighbors,
and co-workers. I can show love and compassion. I can be there
to help in their time of need. I hope I can be "God with skin on"
in the lives of those around me. I hope my life can show some
child, some adult, that there is something to this "God" thing.
The courts ruling that our kids can pray in
school again isn't going to change things that much, unless the change
comes about because people are realizing what they have lost and what our
society has lost. Let's quit bickering over these kinds of things
and begin taking steps to make changes one person at a time- one child
at a time. What child or adult do you have contact with? Who
in your community could use some love and care? 'Who can you be "God
with skin on" to?
I do want to clarify that I don't agree nor
do I like for others to try and take the rights of our children to pray
wherever, and whenever they want (assuming it is not during class time
or other inappropriate times for a prayer gathering). Just as our
children have a right to take a stand for any other belief they may have,
and speak openly about it, they have the right to pray and to even share
their beliefs with their friends. (Isn't this better than sharing
their drugs with each other?) If they have the right to hold other
non-school activities at the school, then there has to be the freedom to
also have their prayer gatherings or Bible studies. This is
not what I am getting at all.
My son informed me that at his high school,
this issue was presented to the principal and he agreed they had the right
to hold their meetings, however, when the time came, he put up roadblocks
to keep them from letting other kids know, tried to prevent the meetings,
etc. I know there is a fear that some poor child will be influenced
by Christianity, and somehow the message seems to be coming that our kids
can't handle having a choice of what to believe about God and the Bible.
Yet, they can make choices about having sex, what kind of sex to have,
birth control, abortions etc., without even letting parents know, and the
school system helps them keep the parents in the dark. Does this
make sense? I give our kids more credit than that. They can
hear all about Jesus, Buddha, Hinduism, etc., and decide for themselves
what is truth. But all this is another subject that I'm sure I will
deal with later.
by Annie Nelson
Copyright: All Rights Reserved:
1997: Annie Nelson
Response from: Lynn Smith
While I agree with most of what you have said on this subject, I will make a few points and try to keep it short. I believe that there are no grounds, legal or otherwise, to allow schools, courts, or government in any form or fashion to prevent school lead prayer or individual prayer. I did grow up in a school system that had a morning prayer at the beginning of each day over a speaker system. I don't support forced prayer in schools for any reason. Voluntary prayer is a different matter. You must approach many of these issues, where intermingling occurs with a secular world, with secular logic for anyone to consider your point of view. Outside of the spiritual context, there is the constitutional context. How can these institutional entities block or prohibit something that is completely constitutional. If we have "Freedom of Religion" and "Freedom of Speech" as subscribed in our constitution, then how can prayer be legally prevented? It can't! It can be prevented, but not legally. It can only be prevented through the modern day courts so as to appear to be legal. They themselves are in violation of our constitution in rendering judgments that are counter to these fundamental, constitutional rights. That's just my opinion.
This response and the website was difficut
for me to read and put in here. I want to say to Bill and his son
that I'm sorry that people did this to him in the name of Christianity.
I hope those that read his response and visit his site will be ashamed
at the way they were treated for trying to enforce their rights as a US
citizen. Regardless of their beliefs or anyone else's, we never have
a right to treat someone this way, especially those of us who believe in
Christ and want to follow in his footsteps, and I certainly don't want
to hear that anyone who contacts him as a result of this article placed
here treated him with anything but love and respect.
I see that you made some clarifications at
the end of your "Prayer in School" opinion and that is good.Public School
prayer causes violence.
You stated in your opening on this page, "There
are issues that always bother me, and I have strong opinions about them."
I too have issues that bother me and like you I have strong opinions about
them also. One of the issues that bother me is public school prayer, or
any public prayer that is sponsored by the government. I haven't always
had strong opinions about school or public prayer. It was only after I
had a personal experience with the violence associated with public prayer
that I came to realize the necessity maintaining a separation between the
Church and the State.
In taking a closer look at your statement:
I know there is a fear that some poor child will be influenced by Christianity,
and somehow the message seems to be coming that our kids can't handle having
a choice of what to believe about God and the Bible. I see, not that some
poor child will be influenced by Christianity, but the interference of
in someone else's raising of their children as they see fit. Would you
like the government telling you what religion your child should be practicing
in public schools?
Many Christians believe that the United States
is a Christian Nation and use their belief to try to pass laws, which favor
their ideas. Religious based laws that would subject all the citizens of
the United States to follow one religion, one God, one type of prayer --
Christian religion and Christian prayers. The United States of America
is too diverse culturally for one religion to dominate in government. When
one religion dominates a government, the freedoms of all the other religions
are lost and become second class-- that is the end of --Freedom of Religion.
Many Christians also believe that United States
has been on a downward spiral ever since God, the Bible and prayer was
taken out of public schools, that is a lie. No law in the United States
was ever written that banned a student from praying in school. It can also
be said that since mid 1950's that the United States has been on a downward
spiral ever since God was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance and into
the US currency. When the veterans of WWII and Korean Conflict recited
the "Pledge of Allegiance" it was a godless pledge. The original Pledge
of Allegiance written by Francis Bellamy in August 1892 did not mention
God. The original pledge: "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United
States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." In June 14, 1954 God was
inserted into "Pledge of Allegiance." Religious fear and intimidation during
the McCarthy era, created the change in the "Pledge of Allegiance" and
Our Founding Fathers were educated men and
knew about the domination of religion in government and the conflict that
it creates. The 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights was written in
such a way to separate the Church and Government to prevent the religious
conflict that religion causes. I think that conservative Christians do
more harms to the Christian persuasion than they realize. Politicians,
who cater to those Christians that call for prayer in school, or public
prayer, are destroying the very basic principals in Freedom of Religion.
You may not know of the terrorist tactics that were aimed at my family
by Christians. You can learn more about the terror directed at me and my
family at: http://www.mindspring.com/~wjager/christian-intolerance.html
. Don't make the mistake and tell me that these Christians who terrorized
my family were not Christians; my answer to that would simply be, "Excuse
me, can I help you please, I am sorry."
Thank you for the opportunity to vent my strong
opinions on this subject. Bill Jager
Strong Statement From School
This is a statement that was read over
the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School,
Kingston, Tennessee by school Principal Jody McLoud, on
September 1, 2000. I thought it was worth sharing with the world,
and hope you will forward it to all your friends. It clearly shows just
how far this country has gone in the wrong direction.
It has always been the custom at Roane
County High School football games to say a prayer and play
the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent
ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a
violation of Federal Case Law.
As I understand the law at this time,
I can use this publicfacility to approve of sexual perversion
and call it an alternate lifestyle, and if someone is offended,
that's OK. I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing
condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended,
I can even use this public facility to
present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means
of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem. I can designate
a school day as earth day and involve students in activities to religiously
worship and praise the goddess, mother earth, and call it ecology.
I can use literature, videos and presentations
in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional,
Christian convictionsas simple minded and ignorant and call
However, if anyone uses this facility
to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and
good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated.
This appears to be at best, inconsistent
and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of
everything and anyone except God and His Commandments. Nevertheless,
as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and
students to abide by rules which they do not necessarily agree.
For me to do otherwise would be at best, inconsistent and at worst, hypocritical.
I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I
certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.
For this reason, I shall, "Render unto
Cesar that which is Caesar's," and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and askHim in the name of Jesus to bless this
event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against