Prayer in Schools: A Clarification
In a previous article, I wrote on how the prohibition on prayer in America’s schools is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the US Constitution’s First Amendment. In this article, I’d like to offer a further clarification on the matter of prayer in schools.
We should oppose the government suppression of religion in the schools. Religious free exercise is the heritage of the American people and it's a part of the Constitution. The American people need to claim it as their heritage until the courts catch up to the American people. On this issue, the American people have the Constitution and the history of American freedom on their side: actions such as the prohibiting of prayer in the schools are a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
But even more important, not only is that ban on prayer in schools unconstitutional, it is also right to pray to God. It is right in the sense that it is both moral and legal.
It is moral—men do not need the permission of the state to pray to God or to lead others in a prayer to God. It is a moral act to pray to God just as it is moral to tell the truth or help others.
It is legal—There are no statutes that prohibit prayer in schools. The prohibition is more “assumed” than “actual.” The Court has ruled against prayer in schools in some cases, but these are specific cases that get generally applied. However, there is no definitive claim that prohibitions on religious expression apply to your specific situation. So, when I say that you should go ahead anyway, I do so under the assumption that praying in schools is not illegal, but has been ruled against from time to time in specific situations. You must always keep in mind, however, that if you decide to challenge the ban on prayer, you're going to face opposition. You may be ruled against by the courts and some pressure groups, like the ACLU, will try to make your life miserable.
Second, if there is to be any imposition against praying, it should not come from the government, but from the local schools themselves. Now, I would be against local public schools that prohibited the praying to God, and it would be my right as a citizen to oppose it. However, I think the local schools are vastly more qualified to make such a decision, if for no other reason than the federal government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion, while a local school would not have such a constitutional prohibition.
In short, I favor the many decisions by Americans over the one by the government. I favor the benefits and consequences that come with freedom (especially those in the Constitution) over the suppression of freedom by the tyrant. Yes, there will be problems if we allow freedom in this matter, but there are problems now. The issue over religion in schools is even more contentious than it was prior to the removal of religion from the schools starting in the 1960s.
On February, 2009, Frank Lay, the Principal of Pace High School in Pace, Florida asked Pace Athletic Director Robert Freeman to pray before a meal held at the school to dedicate a new field house and did so in violation of an injunction by federal judge Casey Rogers. ACLU zombies, apparently tiring of harassing little school girls for carrying Bibles, decided to take on the big boys by bringing a lawsuit against Lay and Pace High School in August 2008, based on the complaint by a couple of the students that claimed that Lay and many of the school employees were too vocal about their faith at the school. The ACLU, adept at keeping Nazis and terrorist out of jail, wanted Lay and Freeman locked up because they might continue their dangerous campaign of praying over the meals. You never know what those Religious Right wingnuts will try to get away with. Who knows, if these religious renegades are allowed to continue, they might enjoin the students to remember that “cleanliness is next to godliness” during the next Health & Hygiene class.
Although the court actions against Lay & Freeman were dropped, we had a situation where we were going to send a school principal to jail for praying over a meal in school. Both these men are heroes because they risked going to jail in order to stand up for the heritage of every American: the freedom to pray, outside and inside, the public school.
Lay and Freeman are just a couple of the many victims of ACLU goons who spend their time and money laboring to get moral deviants released from the jails so that they can fill them with Bible-thumpers.
What should Americans do in the face of this assault against their religious freedoms: stand up for them. The Courts will probably catch up to the American people on this issue eventually. But if we lose our freedoms in this matter, if principals and teachers start going to jail because they said grace over a meal, let it not be because we stood by and did nothing..
© 2011 William R Bowen Jr