Public School Learns a Lesson After Telling Students They Can’t Pray in Cafeteria
Imagine your child and a few friends bowing their heads to say a prayer in the cafeteria at school before eating their lunch. As a parent you would be proud of their small demonstration of their faith. And you would be more than a little irritated if the principal of the school told your child that prayer was not permitted and the group had to stop immediately.
That scenario happened in a Wyoming school when students were told they needed permission to pray, and after receiving permission must pray in the hallway so other students wouldn’t see the prayer and be offended.
A recent article reports that the school argued that by praying in the cafeteria the students were creating a “captive audience” and forcing others to see, hear, and be part of their prayer. The principal wanted to avoid offending anyone – except the Christians it would seem – by making sure no one would see or hear the prayer.
But, when the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – a legal organization that defends religious freedom – stepped in, the school changed its tone. ADF sent a letter to the school threatening legal action if the school continued to infringe on the students’ 1st amendment rights to pray:
“School cafeterias are not religion-free zones, and they certainly do not involve captive audiences. Students in the cafeteria are not captive audiences because they can leave at any time or turn away from the quiet prayer in the corner…”
The school has since apologized to the students and changed its position on the matter. This is good news and hopefully the school will do better in the future at protecting students’ rights not just to free speech, but religious freedom as well. For that matter it seems many people believe that more religion in schools would be a good thing.
A recently released poll by Rasmussen has found that a majority of Americans want to see more religion in public, including in our schools:
“76% believe Christmas should be celebrated in public schools, and 54% say there’s not enough religion in the public schools. Of those adults ‘with school-age children at home, 82% favor celebrating Christmas in public schools, and 61% believe there should be more religion in those schools.’”
Those statistics come from parents with school-aged children currently in the schools. It would, perhaps, be one thing if these statistics came from an older generation that was looking back. The fact that they came from a generation with children currently in school makes it a more powerful statement. Take a look at some of these other statistics from the same poll:
57% of Americans favor prayer in public school.
73% support “giving parents a choice between a school that allows prayer and one that does not.”
57% say it is not possible to have a healthy community without churches or a religious presence.
71% of Americans say their religious faith is important in their daily life.
49% consider it “very important.”
It’s no wonder that many Americans feel unrepresented by their government. Many local, state, and certainly the federal government want to push an agenda that is free of religion in any way. They want to limit Christmas celebrations to “holiday parties,” remove prayer from any public eye that could see it, and keep our schools as religion free as possible. And yet the American people don’t want a country anything like that.
It’s a curious thing to go into a community where Bible clubs are held in school rooms, companies hold Christmas parties and open it with prayer, and nativity scenes can be seen in the town square. It not only makes us yearn for a time when this was normal in our culture; it makes us wonder how long before these things no longer exist.
Frankly, I think a majority of Americans want to go back to a time when religion was more prominent in our country. I think we are finally seeing the results of removing God from our country and we don’t like what we see. For years we compromised with those that said “we just want equality” and are now realizing that equality was a code word for total control. Now that we are seeing the criminalization of people that desire to live and do business according to their religious convictions, we want to take a step back.
For now the students can pray in the cafeteria; and I hope more students will begin doing so. I also hope more schools will refuse to cave to pressures to be politically correct when confronted by a parent that wants Christmas removed or prayer banned. Those schools that stand their ground and enlist the help of groups like Alliance Defending Freedom have seen their accusers back down. The Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the law has consistently protected our rights to express our religious convictions in public.
May we continue to exercise our sacred rights and defend the free exercise thereof. Our Founders envisioned a land where religion was part of everyday life; and I think most Americans desire the same. We can only have such a land if we live each day unafraid to exercise our religious convictions. As disciples of Jesus that’s what we should be doing anyway.