It’s a debate we’ve had before.
It seems we have never come to a solid conclusion on whether prayers should be allowed in schools or at school functions. Some believe it is absolutely necessary, while others say it enforces one religion on all. Whatever the case may be, it’s a discussion we are going to be having again.
A recent letter sent to members of the Pickens County school board asked that prayers said at the beginning of meetings (usually conducted by students themselves) be eliminated.
There are a few issues I take with this, simply because I attend nearly every meeting and know exactly what goes on during this time.
I’m of the opinion that local issues should be handled locally. If you have a problem with your school district in Pickens County, why go to an organization (Freedom From Religion Foundation) in Wisconsin for the fix.
At each meeting, the board hosts a public forum. This is a time where local residents can share their questions and concerns with board members. To my knowledge, this is not an issue I have seen talked about during that time.
So what about prayer? Does it have a place in schools?
I certainly believe it does, but my opinion is not what matters here.
What matters is the United States Constitution.
It has always been my understanding that, as Americans, we are awarded “freedom of religion,” and the name of this organization that is seeking to end invocations seems to oppose that (Freedom from religion).
The Constitution says the government shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. That does not appear to be what is happening here. The students that come and say these prayers at the start of the meetings are volunteers. They are not forced to say anything or do anything they are not willing to do.
These same prayers are said all over the county at the start of meetings. Whether it is city or county council, members of Pickens County government have chosen to engage in this activity at the beginning of government sessions.
In the Pledge of Allegiance, which is said shortly after the invocation at the school board meetings, we vow that we are “one nation under God.”
If we are going to keep the Pledge of Allegiance in schools, I don’t see why there isn’t room for prayer (for those who want to participate) as well.
I hope that this matter can be handled by the people it will affect most—the people who attend the meetings—and not by folks who won’t spare the time on a Monday night.