Since 1963 when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Abington School District v. Schempp that Bible reading and prayer in public schools were unconstitutional, misunderstandings about prayer and Bible reading in public schools have abounded.
This issue has been resurrected when in an early political rally in January President Trump declared his plans to “safeguard students’ and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools.” Sounds good on the campaign trail when pandering to your white evangelical support base, but misleading.
What this decision did was to prevent an agent of the state, which is what a school teacher is, from leading a religiously diverse group of minors in Bible reading and prayer. What it did not do was to take away the right of a student or a teacher to pray or read their Bible during their own time.
It is not against the Constitution for a student to bring a Bible to school in their book bag or for a teacher to bring one to school in their briefcase, in fact, the right to do that very thing is protected by the Constitution as subsequent cases have proven. If a student is praying silently to God, how would anyone know? How would they stop him?
Those of you who want prayer in school, how would you feel if your child’s teacher was a Muslim and wanted to lead the class in a prayer to Allah? Or would you want to take that teacher’s freedom of religion away? Do you want prayer in school because you do not set the example of praying and reading your Bible at home?
What I have witnessed in our country is more freedoms are lost not because they are taken from us but because we fail to exercise them. Was a freedom taken from us or did we simply surrender it? Are we asking the school to do something we are not willing to do ourselves?
Paul wrote to the Ephesians and said, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4. The spiritual nurturing of children is ultimately the responsibility of the parents, not the school system.
If you believe the nation and our school system is headed in the wrong direction, God has said, “If My people who are called by name will humble themselves and pray…I will hear from heaven,” 2 Chronicles 7:14.
There is nothing wrong with protesting and political activism, but they are no substitute for prayer. It is not the protests or political activism of a righteous man that accomplishes much, it’s his prayers, James 5:16.
While political activism and protests have their place, they are not what made this nation great or will make it great again. When I think what made this nation great, I see in my mind’s eye George Washington on his knees that winter in Valley Forge, praying.
Concerned? Then pray! Nobody is stopping you.