Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hatfield vs. McCoy

There has been much discussion and debate and gnashing of teeth regarding prayer in public schools. I am sure that I don't have all the facts and that I don't understand all of the issues, but I am sure that I am colored by the sensational stories that show up from time to time in the popular press. It seems that public opinion of the current U.S. laws are that prayer in public schools (any institution supported by government funding) is verboten. There was this major concession that allowed for a "moment of silence", but you won't get another inch. I kind of have this picture in my mind of the Hatfields and the McCoys locked in a never-ending battle, where the Hatfields are the religious folks and the McCoys are the evil, secret society athiests (I can almost hear the hissing now). The reality is that it was religious groups that brought the lawsuits that formed our current laws. These laws only outlaw government-sponsored worship. Public school students have always had the full right to pray on their own as class schedules permit. To me, this kind of makes sense. Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, Islamists, and Jews have very different points of view as to what their children are exposed to in school, and what their children are required to recite and read and espouse. Keeping school clear of this kind of fighting and debate and controversy seems entirely appropriate to me. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that kind of summed the whole thing up, "As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools".