Friday, September 09, 2011

Prayer in Public Schools

A redated post. 

I honestly can't figure out what people want when they say they want prayer in public schools. Imagine the following scenario.

Jerry Falwell's Granddaughter: I'm so glad you worked so hard to bring prayer back into public schools.
Jerry Falwell: Yes, it was a hard fight, but with all the Supreme Court Justices that Bush packed the court with, we finally got that one changed.
Granddaughter: We prayed today in school for the first time.
Falwell: Praise the Lord! Thank you Jesus!
Granddaughter: We did the most beautiful prayer. I had never heard it before. It goes like this:

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy
womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Be careful of what you ask for. You may get it.


Bill Snedden said...

Thank you, Victor. I know that there are many Christians who share your point of view on this, but it's always nice to see it expressed.

Besides, as someone somewhere once said, as long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools!

Mike Darus said...

What does "prayer in public schools" mean? Students can pray silently as much as they want. Teachers can also pray. A teacher can even pray for students. Churches that use church buildings do a lot of public praying in public schools. Teachers legally lead and participate in voluntary prayer groups.

There is an over reaction in some schools. Anything can happen on some school grounds unless it is Christian. Christain teachers walk on eggshells.

Victor Reppert said...

I think you have to distinguish individual expressions of religious conviction on the one hand, and a teacher's use of classroom authority to advance their particular religious or non-religious view. The Hail Mary example I just provided suggests that there is something to protect against. However, the walking on eggshells situation suggests that there is something to be guarded against on the other side.

It would be interesting to know the history of the actual school prayer decision.

Anonymous said...

Meh. The school system in my area allows public prayer, I think public prayer should just be a minute in the morning to silently pray to yourself. I feel so lucky that I can pray to God in lunch hour without ever getting punished for my beliefs. -Ze Apologist Nerd-

Anonymous said...

What is the point of prayer in public schools? To make students more morally and spiritually sound? If that's the goal, then it'd be an abysmal failure. I attended two private high schools about a decade ago, a Protestant one and a Catholic one, where after the mandatory prayers (which were rattled off mechanically), students would crack innumerable sex jokes, eagerly anticipate getting wasted and "hooking up" during the weekend, and smoke in their cars, sometimes going so far as to engage in recreational drug use. I couldn't discern a notable difference between those institutions and the later secular institutions I attended. Nobody gave a damn about God. The only students for whom prayer in school had any real significance were those students that were already spiritually and morally serious.

B. Prokop said...

I kinda like that prayer in your example. What was wrong with it?

(Actually, I agree totally with you. Public prayer has no place in Public schools.)

Karl Grant said...

I am less concerned about the lack of prayer in public schools and more concerned about the lack of discipline and qualified teachers.

BenYachov said...

What's the problem?

Ilíon said...

Then again, why, exactly, do we need public schools?

Anonymous said...

So the next generation will not grow up as ignorant as you!

Ilíon said...

Poor, poor, foolish and ignorat Anonymouse: he seems not to understand that the public indoctrination centers are not about education.

Gregory said...

Whatever happened to Christ's admonition to pray "secretly"? Whatever happened to Christ's warning about latent hypocrisy when prayer is done in the public eye (i.e. in order to be "seen by men")?

Prayer does not require a folding of the hands or the closing of the eyes. For instance, angels have neither hands nor eyes, yet they still pray.

So, for those Evangelicals who desire to push Christ into politics....I heartily recommend a sober contemplation of the Lord's "Sermon on the Mount". And if one's spirituality does not measure up to the ideals listed in The Sermon, then perhaps one ought to consider praying for one's self privately.