WHY THE IDEA OF PRAYER AT SCHOOL IS DECIDEDLY
By Libby Hudson Lydecker
As a nation that pins its hope for the future on our children, it truly takes courage of heart and mind to embrace the concept of E Pluribus, Unum. Because Out of Many, We Are One.
The idea that children going to public school should be required to assemble and participate in a form of prayer is intensely debated. The argument can be made that ritual and reflection, giving thanks, and thanking the universe are lovely things to want to instill in our children. The complicated part is how to possibly do that in a way that is appropriate for all belief systems—an idea that our Constitution vehemently protects.
The founding fathers of America wanted a land of the free, where one could practice religious freedom without persecution. They sought a refuge from the tyrannical rules of the execution of heretics by the Protestant and Catholic churches of England.
“The complicated part is how to possibly do that in a way that is appropriate for all belief systems—an idea that our Constitution vehemently protects.”
With that in mind, they intentionally created the formation of a government that specifically and carefully separated church and state—meaning the government has no right to dictate or impose religious beliefs as law.
It is important to note that the phrase “under God” was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the year 1954 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Similarly, “In God We Trust” on U.S. currency was added in 1957. It is interesting to note this addition, because it was an arguably strong departure from the intentions of the founding fathers, who understood the importance that one’s love of God should be separated from one’s love of country.
It is sometimes argued that America is a Christian nation. However, at its core, America is a melting pot of cultures and ideas, and reflects that in its wide array of traditions and religious affiliations.
In a public school setting, if one religion is chosen over another, it would be imposing a religious belief system on the collective. If we are truly a nation that values our freedom, then we must recognize the importance of tolerance of all belief systems. Something I’m thinking about.