Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Should they put prayer back in schools?

One of the latest Facebook "polls" going around is asking that question. I don't participate in those kinds of things on FB (primarily because I don't trust that someone isn't using it to hack my account), but I do have an opinion.

No! Please, no!

(Let the hammers in the hands of some begin to pound the nails. I fully expect it.)

I can remember our class in early elementary school bowing our heads as we stood in line to go to the cafeteria (I think we called it the "lunch room") almost 50 years ago and someone leading us in "God is great, God is good....". However, that was another America, two generations removed. It was still the "Leave It to Beaver" era. And no one (to my knowledge) ever abused the prayer or found it "unconstitutional". Everyone, it seemed, believed in the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Those who didn't were a huge minority.

But in the 60's things began to rapidly change, didn't they? Court rulings found such things as prayer in school "unconstitutional" - a violation of the so-called "wall of separation" between church and stated. So it was stopped in government schools.

Those weren't the only changes, however. Our nation as a whole, since World War II increasingly became more and more secular. Families, that had for generations been regular church-goers curbed their attendance to Easter and Christmas, if that. Organizations led by atheists (remember Madelyn what's her name... She was a real activist before becoming an email forwarded hoax), People for the American Way and the ACLU lobbied and sued to strip any vestiges of religion, especially Christianity, from anything public, despite the efforts of the "Christian right".

That led us into the 21st Century and what has been rightly labeled a "post-Christian America". Nowadays, if the preacher in the pulpit proclaims the historic orthodox faith of his church he is likely to be criticized by the membership for being intolerant! Our national religion is pluralism.

"But won't restoring prayers to the public school life help bring our nation back to God?" That's the question and reasoning of those who think it would be a good thing. Our kids need to pray!!

OK. Who in the government-owned school is going to lead that prayer? To what "God" is that prayer going to be directed? Remember, we now embrace multi-culturalism. So do you really want someone who believes in praying to "Mother Earth" or some other pagan entity leading your child in prayer in school? When it's Islamic prayer day, do you want your child bowing toward Mecca (so as not to offend the Muslim students) while a prayer to Allah is being said? That's the only way in the America in which we now live that it would ever happen. Is that what you want?

"But", some reply, "why not just have a moment of silence and let everyone silently pray to the deity of their own faith?" Now we're getting somewhere... almost. But do we even need that?

Guess what? There is no law prohibiting a student from praying while in school. Now, if someone insists the prayers be made aloud and before an entire class or over the intercom, maybe we should read Jesus words on "public" prayers in Matthew 6.

No one can stop a student from praying silently before or after a class. Who said a Christian student can't pray while walking to and from class for his/her classmates and teachers? No one can stop a student from bowing his/her head in the cafeteria to thank God for the meal. And there is no law prohibiting like-minded students from gathering at the school before or after classes to pray together. (Heard of "See You at the Pole"? I just wonder why it's only once a year.)

So what is it that we really want? The days of Wally and the Beaver are forever gone. We surrendered our cake by apathy. It's too late to eat it now. So, instead of trying to get back what we began to give up three generations ago, why not teach our kids that their ability to pray never stops and that God can hear their hearts' utterances, even in the midst of a geometry exam? That was when I found myself doing a lot of praying.

We don't need a regimented time to pray, do we? If we do, then the real question should be, "Should we put prayer back into the everyday lives of Christians?". What did Paul mean by "Pray without ceasing"? Do our kids need someone to tell them when it's the legalized time to pray?

Maybe the answer should be found in Christian parents and churches teaching students that prayer can happen anywhere at anytime and that the answer to our spiritual needs as a nation won't be provided by legislation. If it is, can we truly call it prayer?

As long as there are Christian students and teachers in our public schools there will always be prayer in school. It can't be stopped.


Tubbs said...

Prayer isn't even the fabric in the homes of most of the students in our youth group according to the results of a recent poll we gave them.

If Christians don't see the priority of praying together in the home then why attempt public prayer in school?

Unknown said...

Very nicely said. This definitely reminds all of us of our need to pray without ceasing. Thanks.

Rebecca Meyers said...

Great reminder of what we should be teaching our children. From my personal experience, rehearsed prayer isn't understood or thought about beyond the habit of saying it out loud. It's sort of like rehearsing the Pledge of Allegiance every day mindlessly only because they have to. My kids can say it with ease, but do they really know what it means? I teach them that part. Same with prayer. In school:rehearsal. At home:lifeline. A meaningful Allegiance or prayer to our Father is much more important (I think).

Anonymous said...

Nicely stated, Rick (as usual)!