My Opinion on School Prayer

Written: 13 June, 2000

My opinion on school prayer is... that public schools should basically be secular institutions. I don't think that means that, say, an after-school Bible study class should be barred from using the premises, or that any mention of God should be barred, etc.

I remember when I went to elementary school, there was an after-school "Bible school" class that was apparently something a parent had volunteered to do and to which I went for a day or two. The parent, or some other adult, handed out flyers for it on the park just across the street from the school (i.e., off school property). Many of the kids just ripped up the flyers and threw them on the ground (I did this, I remember, at least once). They used the music room after school for the little "Bible school" class. I don't think that such things should be barred. Or if students want to form a religious club, they should be allowed to do that. I think in some cases people are trying to stamp out every trace of God from the public forum. Considering the success these PC police have had in the courts, I'm surprised that our money still has "In God We Trust" on it.

My denomination has a stance on alchohol use which I think would strike a nice balance for public schools on the matter of religion: it does not encourage it for those who are against it, and it does not discourage it for those who are for moderate use of it. They should try to keep both sides happy.

I'm not interested in public schools becoming tools of propoganda for one side or another. They should strictly be educational facilities. They can teach them basic morality or basic ethics and I'd consider that "education," but their parents should be their primary source for moral education. Oddly, I think that my own source for moral education was comicbook superheroes like Superman and Captain America. I don't really recall my parents teaching me much in the way of morality, aside from "Don't argue with mom in front of dad" and "Never argue with dad." Which wasn't really learning about morality, just submission.

I'd like to know how many people who say that they are in favor of a "prayer time" in public schools actually pray on a daily basis as a family in their homes? There may be a lot of people who do, but I'd guess that even many families who profess to be religious do not pray together every day. It seems to me that the parents are wanting the schools to make their kids do something that they won't have their kids do themselves. It used to be a ritual in the old days that children would say a short prayer every night before going to bed. How many parents still teach their children to do that? I'm not interested in having the public schools be a surrogate parent for today's latchkey kids.