August 18, 2005

Louisiana School Teachers Take Class on Prayer in Schools

The Sun Herald | 08/17/2005 | Teachers take class on prayer in schools

Taking a class to avoid future lawsuits sounds like a reasonable idea. If one assumes that continued ACLU actions have been necessary because individual teachers are ignorant of the law, a class might help.

Rather than explaining that prayer in schools is not appropriate, we read of the superintendent saying, "We can still pray but we just have to follow certain rules." Specifically, it is okay for a student to pray silently as long as it is not disruptive. Although it is not stated in this article, I would assume that this refers to prayer initiated by the student and not the teachers or administrators.

Do I have a problem with this? Surprisingly, no (and not just because I my recent salvation by the miracle of the Hawthorne tree). If an individual student chooses to pray silently in school, he or she should be able to do so. After all, silent prayer is no different from any other thoughts a person might have. We can't ban silent prayer any more than we could ban sexual fantasies about one's classmate! This has absolutely nothing to do with religious freedom; it is about the freedom of one's own thoughts.

What about silent prayer groups during school? This is a much more complicated issue because this is where peer pressure and the exclusion of religious minorities may kick in. It is difficult to set general policies on this issue. The use of publicly funded school facilities for religious activities is clearly unconstitutional. However, I have no problem with a group of students deciding to have an informal silent prayer session during lunch as long as it is not disruptive.

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