“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.