Prayer in public schools

I’ve never been able to understand the complaint I hear from some quarters that the right to pray in public schools is being attacked. I know I was able to pray in my public school, and did so often, before every exam I took.

I’m not entirely joking. I often did pray. Yes, silently, to myself. No teacher stopped me. And I can guarantee no teacher would stop someone praying in that manner today. And if a teacher did try to stop a student, that student should go running to the nearest branch of the ACLU. They would love the publicity they’d get in taking that school to court.

Every court case that the critics bemoan has been about **organized** school prayer. Prayer where a school, a teacher, or another student decides on a prayer that all other students are going to be forced to recite, or at least listen to, regardless of whether they want to or not.

Can’t the critics see the difference between voluntary, and forced? It’s the same difference between the concepts of love and rape. If someone doesn’t want to swallow something, it shouldn’t be forced down their throats.

Sorry about the graphic image, but I think it is an appropriate analogy. For those of us who believe, God is someone we have a very close relationship with. But our relationships differ. If someone suggests to us that we should have a different sort of relationship with God, and tries to force that relationship on us, a negative reaction shouldn’t be surprising.

Public Schools can definitely assign their students to read the Bible as a source for many literary allusions. I studied biblical stories (old and new testament) in my Junior year of High School English. (Freshman year we had studied Greek and Roman mythology). American History courses should definitely cover the effect religion has played on American History. From the Puritans, to William Jennings Bryan. From the Scopes trial to Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

But that’s not the same thing as teaching scripture, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, or posting the Ten Commandments.

You might be surprised to discover your translation of scriptural passages, including the 10 commandments, aren’t identical with the translation used by other religions. If a school picks one translation, isn’t it in effect telling students of other religions that their religion is wrong? Heck, you’d even have to pick between Matthew’s and Luke’s Lord’s Prayer. I can’t say I know what lies behind that controversy, but I’ve read that some prefer one over the other.

Matthew 6:5-6: “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men….when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret….”

I rarely ever quote the Book of Matthew. But ironically, he makes a lot of sense to me in this passage