In the Bill Of Rights, the First Amendment to the Constitution, titled "Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression" states the following: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abbridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. "
Now, I am not an attorney nor am a legal scholar, and I realize that the courts have interpreted the foregoing in numerous ways, however, I also realize that how the Amendment is interpreted depends on which judgment is sitting on the bench at the time a case is heard and just because a person is a judge does not mean that that person is infallible and it does not mean that that person does not have his or her own agenda. Judges are, after all, still human.
In my opinion, having organized prayer in school is not "an establishment of religion", but is instead the carrying out of the will of the majority of the people in this nation. I further believe that to forbid school prayer is "prohibiting the free exercise thereof". It is also "abridging the freedom of speech" of the majority. This nation is supposed to be a Republican Democracy where the will of the majority of it's citizens is presumed to rule. As far as I can determin, the majority of the citizens in this country believe in prayer, of one type or another, and only a small minority, consisting of certain athletes, far left politicians, "Hollywood celebrities", etc., are against prayer.
To allow this small minority to override the will of the major is wrong. To allow this small, very loud, very activist, very well funded minimum to take away the right of the 'silent' majority, to pray as they wish, is to allow them to corrupt our system and to take away freedom of religion from our citizens. I realize that our citizens can still pray at home and in church, however, public schools are paid for with public tax dollars, and as long as the majority of tax payers want school prayer then they should have school prayer.
When a teacher leads a class in prayer, no one is forced to pray. Some people claim that when a child does not join in the praying, that child may be embarrassed or ridiculed by the teacher or other students, therefore they claim that class prayer is harmful. I disagree. No good teacher would criticize a student for not praying. If a teacher does so then that teacher should be reprimanded or dismissed because that teacher is not worthy of being a teacher. If some students ridicule a non praying student then those students have not been properly related to the rights of others and should be corrected. For my own reasons, I never prayed during class prayer and no one ever said anything to me. I was never ridiculed or critcized. I knew others that did not pray and to the best of my knowledge that they never had any problems, except that some of their parents embarrassed them by complaining to the school. It seems that while the non praying students did not mind school prayer, their parents did.
The majority of Americans find hope and comfort in prayer. To deny them the right to pray because a small minority does not approve, is just plain wrong. I realize that in a small number of cases some children do have problems with school prayer, but to deny the large majority of students the hope and comfort of starting their school day off with a prayer is to stomp on their rights. To deny the majority their religious freedom goes against what this country stands for.
One of the most important things about attending school is that children learn how to deal with other people. All kinds of things go on in school that affect or bother various students. They can not and should not be protected from everything that they do not like. Some children are embarrassed by going to physical education class, should we then take physical education off the curriculum? Some children are bothered by certain things taught in history class, should we then take history off the curriculum? Some children are embarrassed because they are not good at math, should we then take math off the curriculum? If we took everything off the curriculum that might embarrass or bother a student there would no longer be any schools. If we protected the students from everything that bothered them then they would not learn how to cope with problems and would not be able to function as adults.
In my opinion, forbidding school prayer is just another case of 'political correctness' gone overboard.
By David Hallstrom
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