Pray It Won’t Happen

“Governments tend not to solve problems, only to rearrange them.” ~Ronald Reagan

I am against prayer in the schools, but not for the reason you might think. You might think that I oppose it because of my staunch atheism, but no. I am against prayer in the schools because I am against the idea of a government, any government, telling my children, or your children, how to pray or worship.

Doesn’t anyone else think it is the church and the family who should be teaching our children our traditions, and that the public schools should stick to reading and math?

The advocates of prayer in the schools have a tendency to oversimplify issues, both in conversation and in laconic messages like bumper stickers and blog subheads, such as, “Where was God during Columbine? He wasn’t allowed in the school.” The obvious message is that prohibiting prayer in the school led to the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999 and if children had been directed to pray every morning, it would not have taken place. It doesn’t occur to those advocates that it was erosion of the church and family, not the practices in the public schools, that led to Columbine.

It’s also odd that these same advocates don’t seem to recognize that even within a specific religion, there are sects and sub-sects, and they agree on surprisingly little. Who would decide which prayers to say? Maybe they could take turns. Would you be comfortable with your children saying the Ave Maria one day, then reciting from the Koran the next?

A peculiar twist to this is that conservatives, those who typically advocate a strong, usually Christian, presence in American public schools, are also outspoken advocates of smaller government. How can you say your want government to leave you alone and respect your rights and simultaneously ask that same government to take such a huge hand in educating (indoctrinating) our children? That’s the rub, isn’t it? It’s not that anyone thinks the public schools would do a good job praying. It’s that religious people want to indoctrinate others using the power of the public schools.

Prayer can be a very meaningful, beneficial practice, but it is definitely best left in the hands of the church.


  1. i recall in high school there was a group that met once a week to pray before school, can’t remember what it was called. i don’t know if that is even allowed anymore, but i would support that type of voluntary meeting for any group or religion. as long as it is not forced on anyone.

  2. I think part of the phrase is often left out during this discussion. “Organized prayer in schools” is actually what’s being discussed. Because of the one word’s omission, the two sides of the debate are arguing for and against different things.

    The “pro” side acts as if they are not now allowed to pray in school. This has never been the case, except in a few misguided (and highly publicized) cases. The “con” side just doesn’t want the school teaching some variant of religion to their kids.

    According to court decisions (and the Constitution), the only thing that’s prohibited is school sponsored/sanctioned (and therefore government sponsored/sanctioned) prayer.

    Any student and/or teacher is free to pray to any deity they like on the property of a public school, as long as the aforementioned prayer doesn’t disrupt the school’s activities, such as schooling. Obviously, a student standing up during a class and loudly praying is disruptive (and rude).

    I prayed a thousand times during my high school years and no one ever knew it.

  3. I’m not against prayer in schools. I just don’t think one can be forced to pray or not to pray. It’s really not a political issue as much as it is an issue of personal conviction. The law can’t change a person’s heart.

  4. I disagree. I feel that effective political and social indoctrination can change the hearts of whole nations. How else could people like Adolf Hitler lead whole nations the way he did?

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