Reflections………………………………………Prayer in School


Cross on the Campus of the University of the South

Historical documents indicate John Adams, American Statesman, Attorney, Founding Father and Second President of the United States conferred with George Washington, First President of the United States and inquired about having prayer in schools and how prayers should be conducted. George Washington’s reply was “this country was not founded by religionists but by Christians. Not on religion but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are talking about prayer to the Bible’s God.” “Prayer in our schools will be a unifying  process.” From that time forward prayer has been an integral part of school. (John Adams-Wikipedia)
In 1962 the supreme court ruled (Engle v Vidtale) it unlawful for schools to promote praying in public schools. I like what one student had to say about this ruling. “As long as we have tests, we will have prayer in school.” Nevertheless, what our Founding Fathers considered as a means to promote citizenship and virtuous living was considered unlawful.

As we look at the changes that have occurred since prayer was outlawed, can we say the conditions on our school campuses are better or worse? Can we say the moral fiber of our youth is better or worse? Can we say our children are less self-absorbed or more self-absorbed? Are reading and achievement scores better or worse? In other words, are our schools better off or worse off than they were in 1962? Regardless of how you answer these questions, our schools have lost a powerful tool for promoting citizenship, virtue, servanthood, and reverence:  Prayer.

During the period since the Supreme Court made the decision to eliminate prayer, we have seen our culture move in a direction of incivility characterized by rude words and behavior. The lack of civil behavior is threatening the greater good. Unequivocally, prayer leads to lives characterized by thankfulness and produces better people as well as better students.

Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t post on social media: “Do you want prayer put back into schools?” The answer to that statement is an overwhelming YES, provided it is done in the same manner as what John Adams and George Washington envisioned. But that time has come and gone……………A pluralistic society embracing multiple religions, where classroom teachers worship an array of gods and in some cases, godlessness, is not a place where the majority of parents want a prayer lead by a teacher.

A saying in sports as well as in leadership goes like this…… “the ball is in your court…….” Prayer as we once knew it will not return to our public schools. We are a people of faith. America is a land of hope. Hope is a quality of the soul. It is a consistent characteristic of this country that we have always sought to rise above or move beyond the conditions that are given to us. Parents, grandparents, we have lived in a country where prayer has been the centerpiece of our relationship with our Heavenly Father.  The ball is in our court. Therefore, instead of your child”s teacher leading with prayer, the home and the parents must keep this vital part of our lives front and center.  You have prayer as a centerpiece of your household. Before the children go to school…have a prayer. Before that ballgame……..have a prayer. Before a meal……. have a prayer. All the places where the school use to provide opportunities for prayer you now step into the void. Without it we perish and our life and thoughts dissolve into a meaningless, unrelated rush of events………. Let’s Pray.


Retired in 2008 after 40+ years in education/psychology as researcher, teacher, administrator and college professor.
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