Tuesday, March 25, 2014

School Prayer

I was required to write an assignment on school prayer for my Diversity in American Schools class. I had to trim down my submission just a bit since it was just one page allowed. Here's what I wrote:

For close to 200 years schools were allowed to have prayer and Bible reading. The prevailing notion that the Founding Fathers of this nation were somehow scared of religion or were deists who were terrified of religion is simply not true. Here’s a quote from Benjamin Franklin himself:

“In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the divine protection! Our prayers, sir, were heard; and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.”

This doesn’t sound like a man terrified of religion to me! Thomas Jefferson, while certainly not someone that would be classified as a mainstream Christian, did believe in Christ and even spoke of “Nature’s God.”
According to Noah Webster, another of our Founding Fathers and the founder of the dictionary named after him:

"No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people.”

Again, it doesn’t sound like he was terrified of religion in the government! As a matter of fact, Noah Webster is the man responsible for the Blue Back Speller, a book that was in use in American schools for over 100 years. If you wonder what’s special about it, a look at it will find it replete with Biblical references galore. It was a book that Benjamin Franklin used to teach his granddaughter with even. This doesn’t sound to me as men who would be against prayer in school.

Those who frown upon prayer or any mention of God in our schools point to the 1st Amendment saying that Congress will not establish a religion. One only need to look at England and how they had a national church to see what our founders were attempting to prevent. They didn’t want a “Church of America” or a particular denomination having influence as did the Catholic Church in other countries where the ruler was expected to seek the blessing of the church. They were not attempting to wipe out every vestige of Christianity as the ACLU and militant atheist groups contend.

They will also point out that there may be non-Christians in the class. They have the right, at least in my opinion, not to participate in prayer. If the majority of students wish to have prayer, why should they be stopped? No one is trying to make this a “convert or die” scenario or making someone an outcast because they don’t subscribe to the majority view. 

What do we have to show for 52 years of forced secularization of our schools? School shootings, metal detectors, teenage pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, drugs, and other non-desirable things. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time we revisit the place that our Judeo-Christian heritage should have in our public school system.

I would also recommend a book to anyone who would like to research this further. What if the Bible Had Never Been Written by D. James Kennedy. It goes into great detail about the place the Bible has had in shaping not only American society but it’s place in literature and the arts including Shakespeare.

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