Prayer in Public Schools

Since I’ve apparently been stuck on the “separation of church and state” thing these past couple weeks, I figured why stop now? Besides, it’s given me a lot to think about as far as what constitutes a violation of the First Amendment and what does not. Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems as though there is a lot of gray area when it comes to this issue.

One of the things that came to mind was regarding the opportunity for a “moment of silence.” Many people consider this a thinly veiled way of saying “prayer time.” In all honesty, I’m not sure that this is all that far off. However, even if it were “prayer time,” what religion would it be that would be “endorsed” as a result of this?

It seems to me that the point of the First Amendment, as has already been established, is to prevent any one particular religion from being “preferred” or “endorsed” more than any other. But to offer a time of quiet reflection to give students an opportunity to pray (if they wish to) seems, to me, as though it’s pretty ambiguous as far as which god or gods one might be praying to…if any.

To my knowledge, there are public schools that may still allow for a “moment of silence” on a somewhat regular basis. I guess I’m just waiting to read about the first case where a public school find itself hit with a lawsuit citing a violation of the First Amendment because of this practice.

I know…I’m a cynic. What can I say? It’s a fallen, imperfect world and I’m a fallen, imperfect human.

For all I know, there may have already been many such lawsuits filed across this great nation whose founding fathers are probably rolling in their graves over such nonsense. If you happen to know of any, I’d appreciate a mention and a link about it in the comments section.

So, I guess what it comes down to is this…Where is the line? How do we know when it’s been crossed? I mean, it seems to me that the line is less obscure than many news headlines would indicate. Just a few items that I see as being fairly clear, though somebody somewhere apparently thought it was more obscure:

  • A public school student sharing their faith – NOT a violation
  • A public school teacher, staff member or administrator giving Bibles after school hours to students who ask for one – NOT a violation
  • A federally funded prison allowing no other literature other than the Bible to their prisoners – Violation
  • A valedictorian talking about the importance of their faith in their life – NOT a violation
  • A group of citizens praying together on the steps of the United States Supreme Court building – NOT a violation
  • Passing legislation about abortion that is founded in a faith-based ideal – Violation (there are better, more secular ways to do this)

Those are just a few things that I can recall off the top of my head that I saw news headlines and articles about over the last few months or so. If you know of any others, I’d love to hear about them. Yes, I know. I’ll probably get a bit riled up at some of the more insipid ones, but I’ll get over it eventually.

Until then…grace, love and peace.

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