The setting is a third grade classroom somewhere in the USA. Thirty-five children are assembled comfortably in their seats as the teacher begins writing on the blackboard. She spells out the lesson for the day and turns toward the class. All the little boys and girls have their heads bowed and their hands clasped as they perform a silent prayer. “What are you doing?” The teacher shouts. “Stop that this minute!” Stunned, the children look up, their concentration broken. “How dare you pray in my classroom? Don’t you know that’s against the law?” the visibly upset instructor says. “Now, open your history books. We’re going to study the American Revolution.”
The students begin flipping through the pages of the textbook. “George Washington is known as the father of our country,” she begins. “Does anyone know why?” A hand goes up in the back of the room. “Yes, Mary, go ahead,” the teacher says. “Because he was our first president,” Mary answers. “Very good Mary, that’s correct. Washington was the man who set our country on its course to greatness.” Mary’s hand was still up. “Yes, Mary. Do you have something else to add?” The little girl blushed slightly before replying. “Mrs. Davis, there’s a picture in the book that I don’t understand.” “Picture, what picture?” “Well, it’s a picture of President Washington, and he’s praying. You said he helped to make our country great, so how come we can’t pray?”
Although the above is a dramatized version of a scenario, it represents the actual events being played out in schools across the country. Millions of young minds, in need of the nurturing effects of religion, are being told it has no place in their curriculum. What was once the bedrock of the American ethos has been surgically excised by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the phrase “separation of church and state.” Yet, the First Amendment merely states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Which in plain language means Congress can’t pass a law that forces people to become part of a specific religion. Nevertheless, during the savage sixties, the Constitution became as flexible as forty feet of garden hose. Hence, on June 25, 1962, in Engel v. Vitale, the Court ruled: “Prayer in its public school system breaches the constitutional wall of separation of Church and State.” That ruling became the precursor for several more decisions that ate away at the moral underpinnings that, for two centuries, had been the glue holding this republic together.
By 1980, this anti-religious movement had managed to, among other things, have the Ten Commandments taken out of the view of schoolchildren. In Stone v. Graham, the Court ruled in essence that seeing a copy of the Ten Commandments would be an inducement for children to read, meditate upon, or perhaps venerate and obey them. Imagine that! Our children are being induced to obey moral laws. Thou shall not kill. Now, there’s a dangerous idea to implant in young minds. We wouldn’t want our progeny to learn that it’s wrong to commit murder. After all, it’s not as if we need to provide a balance to what they’re exposed to from the influence of television, movies, and newspapers. Let’s see, how about, Thou shall not steal? How horrible! What parent would want their child to grasp the foolish notion that robbery is wrong? Why not let them find out about it after the cuffs are placed securely on their wrists?
Thou shall not commit adultery. They don’t teach that as part of the study program at Springdale High USA. Do they? Instead, in our highly evolved, sophisticated, liberal world, we teach children how to use condoms, and birth control pills. We don’t teach them to abstain from premarital sex because radical professors and militant feminists tell us that kids are going to do it anyway, so we may as well tell them how to protect themselves. Of course, such prophecies tend to be self-fulfilling. Then, we teach them how to jettison a living being from within their womb if they decide the timing is wrong for them at the moment. (Thou shall not kill?) Too bad they didn’t take the timing into consideration when they were creating the fetus. They don’t want to be inconvenienced by having to sacrifice immediate gratification in favor of taking responsibility for their actions.
Ultimately, taking prayer out of school has removed essential moral values from a child’s development. The precipitous decline in academic achievement that began after 1962 cannot be viewed as coincidental. On the contrary, it seems to have been the slippery slope that culminated in a moral and intellectual collapse that has brought us to the edge of the abyss. God help us if this trend continues.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.