So What's Wrong with a Little Prayer in School?

By Wayne Spencer - April 22, 2002
So what is wrong with a little prayer in school? Are we becoming a little too sensitive in this country? A little too politically correct? Are we stretching the first amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting congress from establishing religion, a bit too far?

After all, our critics have some very good arguments. Well if there were not very strong arguments in favor of prayer in school we might not even need the anti-establishment clause in the Constitution. But there it is, big as life, held up by every Supreme Court in history, liberal and conservative, no prayer in school.

Yet here we are in Florida still fighting the same old battle that won't go away. Maybe we have to forget the first amendment for just a moment and concentrate on the pros and cons of prayer in school separate from the law.

The proponents of prayer in school claim that it will instill moral values in children. That because the community is religious, the values of the community should prevail. If one student is a non-believer why should he or she dictate their values on the majority? If you are a proponent of school prayer and have other reasons to offer, please write to me at and I will be happy to include your notes in this column. I sincerely want to include all arguments.

On the opposition side the argument is that religion is a personal thing and no one should have to take part in a prayer which is not their own. In my own case I was a Roman Catholic. My parents had instructed me that it was wrong to participate in non-Catholic prayers. The Roman Catholic Church has a rich heritage of beautiful prayers. As a result I felt very uncomfortable about reciting or being forced to listen to what was a foreign prayer, not of my faith, even though it was a Christian prayer. How much worse if I were Jew, Muslim or atheist. Prayer in school usurps family values, takes away the right of the parents to be the primary instructors of religion and moral values for their children.

I have given this controversy a lot of thought over the years and I have come up with an analogy which possibly could make this clearer to the proponents of school prayer.

If we compare prayer to making love it is a wonderful personal experience. But when forced upon us, as in school prayer, it is more like rape.

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Copyright © 2002 by Wayne Spencer - This article may be freely distributed with this copyright notice attached.