Have you seen the bumper sticker that says “Get Prayer Back into the Public Schools?”
This catchy little phrase might cause someone to think either that there is no
prayer in [U.S.] public schools, or that prayer is not allowed in public schools. Indeed,
a good many people seem to think that prayer in public schools is illegal.
But guess what? It isn’t, and it never was. The law allows students and faculty
to pray at school all they want, but it also prevents them from making others listen
to their prayers if they don’t want to.
And that’s a good thing. We need freedom of religion, but we also need freedom
from religion, that is, freedom from any religion that we don’t believe
in imposing itself on us.
Public school officials are not allowed to promote or initiate student prayer,
but they can assist students in organizing their own prayer meetings. School
officials are not allowed to require unwilling students to participate in prayer,
but they can give official support to student organized prayer activities.
Think about it. Do you want your child to be required to listen to the prayers
of people whose religion you don’t agree with? Of course not. The law protects your
child from that.
But the law also protects your child’s right to pray silently at school, and
your child’s right to meet with others of like faith to pray openly together. The
only thing the law won’t let your child or a school official do is
require people to listen to their
prayers who don’t want to.
It’s a good law. It protects your child’s right to pray and it protects your
child from having to listen to the prayers of people whose religion you disagree
with. That’s freedom, and we can thank God for it, because there are many places
in the world where no such freedom exists.
It’s a shame that so many Christians have been told that prayer in public schools
is illegal, when it’s just not so. It’s true that the football crowd can’t be required
to listen to a game-opening Christian prayer.
But it’s also true that the football crowd can’t be required to listen to a game-opening
Zoroastrian, Druid, Wicca, Voodoo or Santeria prayer. Yet students of any faith
can meet and pray together in settings where others aren’t required to listen.
It was to obtain freedom from religious oppression that many people originally
came to America, a place where they could practice religion as they wished without
a state church oppressing them.
Let’s thank God for
the blessings of freedom afforded in our Constitution, especially the freedom to
worship as our consciences tell us.
God bless the United States of America!
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of Life.