What Is Wrong with Prayer in Public Schools?

Leo Rogol
Quebec, Tennessee

For a long time people have been expressing concern and disappointment over the removal of prayer from public schools. And now, with the defeat of the prayer amendment bill, it appears to many to be the sign of further moral decay in our society. I do not think so, and neither do I support the prayer amendment bill. I feel that the defeat of this bill shows a growing concern over the importance of a basic principle of American government, namely, separation of Church and State.

Some may think I am against something that would improve the moral climate of our nation. However, I do not believe that prayer in public schools would be the solution to immorality. Although some people in the world may think there is merit in this bill, I, as a Christian, see no merit in it. And if some are so concerned over the morals of our society, I believe the best place to begin to improve them is with the dress. For a long time I've been opposed to the immodest apparel such as mini-skirts, shorts, bathing-suits, etc. This will give those who are concerned about morals something to think about.

I am certain, from all reports I have read, that those who opposed the prayer amendment bill in Congress did not wish- to discourage prayer in proper places, such as in the home or in the church. Hence, prayer itself was not the issue. It was concern over the infringement of the Church (religion) upon the State.

The type of prayer that was proposed was "a non-denominational prayer in the schools to be composed by leaders of churches of different faiths and governmental authority" (Nashville Tennessean, Nov. 9, '71)

It is high time to get churches and other religious institutions out of governmental operations. This is my "bone of contention" in this matter. When we use the term, "Church," with regard to "State," let us know that there has been a significant change in the meaning of this term. Within the past twenty years there has emerged a combine of denominations into a great ecclesiastical super-structure known as the National Council of Churches. World-wide, it is called World Council of Churches. Hence, when we deal with a modern concept of "church," we are dealing with a power structure that inheres most of Protestantism all over the U.S. as well as the world.

These organizations are detrimental to fundamental concepts of religion of many religious bodies. They are not only modernistic, but in many respects, atheistic. In all this, I am not defining on this matter what I, as a Christian, understand about the "church," but what is commonly accepted among the public in general. This national organization is not only a religious power structure (religiously speaking), but it is trying (and is succeeding) to gain control over governmental and economical affairs of our nation. We speak of the threat of communism; however, these religious organizations, and its affiliates, are equally as dangerous. In verity, they carry out the aims of communistic schemes. These religious organizations have some of the most powerful and influential lobbies in both State and national capitols of America. They support pro-communist legislation, take active part in financing and organizing riots and demonstrations across the land; they support many of the extreme radical left-wing political activities. The National Council of Churches is behind the sex-educator program, which is nothing more than glorified pornography; they sanction immoral sexual behavior and thus are the leading cause in the moral deterioration of society.

Hence, when we speak of "Church and State" we are speaking of a gigantic and deadly monster that would cripple our system of government and over-throw things that are right and establish things that are ungodly. When we speak of "Separation of Church and State," we are speaking of something much different in nature than when this principle was first established by the founding fathers of this nation. The term, Church, inheres a different concept than formerly and the "Church" is one of the most sinister evils among us today. That is why we must uphold even more this principle of separation of Church and State.

The defeat of the prayer amendment bill holds significance in that in this area, however small it may seem, the government finally said "NO!" to the pressure and influence of the Church. However small a matter it may appear to be to us, it is an important one because many of our leaders are waking up and realizing the danger of our government being taken over by this monstrous ecclesiastical machine. Since this prayer would be designed by churches and their religious leaders, I am opposed to this type of prayer in schools upon the basis of the above stated facts. This is as good a place as any to stop the religious M element from perpetuating its influence and control over the government. Since this prayer bill was a significant and a major issue, and since it was influenced by church leaders, some of whom may be influential in the destruction of true religious principles, then the defeat of this bill was not a blow to moral or religious principles of individual people, but a blow to these religious institutions.

But as a Christian, I see no value in prayer in public schools. First, prayer is an act of worship. And this is another reason for my opposition to prayer in public schools. They are not the place for scriptural worship. Yes, Paul and others prayed in the midst of unbelievers, but their purpose was not to have part or fellowship with them, but rather, they prayed in their behalf, or in spite of them. But for a child to recite a prayer constructed by denominational people does not sound to me as being conducive to proper spiritual upbringing of children of believing parents. For a child to recite a prayer led by an unbelieving teacher has no spiritual significance. Then there is the matter of the quality of prayer. Prayer is not some little poem or nursery rhyme to be memorized and automatically, in a rhythmical style, to be recited. I want my children to understand what they say; I want it to be their own thoughts. I want them to know there is a value and meaning in prayer. I would rather have my small children say a sentence or two of prayer in their own words, however simple they may be, than to let someone else 64 construct" a prayer for them to memorize. (See I Cor. 14: 7-19.) As with any other matters of teaching right habits, Christians need to teach their children at an early age the proper manner of prayer.

Prayer itself is not a token of morality or spirituality. Jesus often rebuked the Jews for their hypocritical pretense of righteousness in prayer. (Matt. 6:5) The story of the Pharisee and the publican is another prime example of this matter (see Luke 18:10-14). Though they went through a form or motion of prayer, these Jews were guilty of immorality of the lowest depths. Simply a form of prayer in our schools, therefore, is not the answer or solution to the prevailing immorality in our country. I do no fear that my children will become godless because prayer is banned in schools. Neither do I think it will make God-fearing people out of godless, immoral ones.

We criticize our brethren for calling on a denominational person to lead in prayer during lectureships, etc., but think nothing wrong in allowing our children to engage in prayer with unbelieving teachers in public schools. With that impression stamped on their minds so young in years, how, or when do we begin to teach them it is wrong for a sectarian to lead in prayer in oar religious functions?

And finally, this observation; I believe this alarm over banning prayer in public schools is a bit of hypocrisy on the part of too many, including some Christians. They fear for the moral condition of our society in view of this ban, but as I mentioned a while ago, they are not concerned over their immoral conduct in dress, speech and behavior. While they express "concern" over this matter of prayer, they blaspheme the name of God in speech. Yes, this is true. 4 some church members also. It is hypocrisy to be so alarmed over the

banning of prayer in schools and show no more respect for the holy and sacred name of God than by using His name profanely.

I dare say that many who have become alarmed over the banning of prayer in public schools never pray at home, never teach their children to pray. To me, such "concern" over this matter of prayer in school is sheer hypocrisy because it simply says that parents expect the schools to do something for their children they fail to do in the home. Parents are too busy to spend time with their children, so schools have to provide social and recreational functions for them. Parents are too busy to prepare a decent breakfast for their children, so they expect the schools to provide such. And now, parents are too busy (and unmindful of God and spiritual things) so they expect the schools to provide a little religion for their children. How long has it been since you prayed with your children? I don't mean in the church, but in your home?

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XVI: 13, p. 10-12
February 3, 1972