Is Praying @ Public School Events Sinful? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

The US Supreme Court, by a 6-3 majority, ruled today that student-led prayers in public school sporting events are unconstitutional. This ruling will have important implications in black communities since it is normal to invoke the prescence of God in sporting events, graduations, convocation programs, etc. Will black churches look at this ruling as sound legal policy [separation of church & state] or the religious equivalent of Plessy v Ferguson? Justice Clarence Thomas voted in the minority along with Rhenquist and Scalia. Justice Thomas's comments on the ruling strongly suggest he is pro-prayer in such public school activities. Given the vitriolic criticism expressed by many black churh leaders towards Thomas it will be extremely awkward to continue to attack the lone black Justice while at the same time express little criticism towards the recent prayer decision. Will the Social Action Committee of the AME Church condemn this recent decision? I have no doubt that a Supreme Court ruling which repeals affirmative action would be attacked as social injustice and abject sin. Is prayer somehow not worthy of our collective ire ala racial discrimination?? If the Church of God will not publicly defend prayer are we not collectively guilty of committing spiritual abdication and worse, apostacy?

-- Anonymous, June 19, 2000


I do not see this decision as necessarily being anti-prayer. There is nothing that prevents our students from praying on public school grounds anytime they want to. There is nothing that prevents them from gathering a group of like minded friends to pray at lunch or before school or any other time that is not disruptive to the Educational process. If a school is open to on campus clubs and the like it must also be open to allow students to met to study the Bible, to pray as well as to have Christian Fellowship. What this ruling DOES do is prevent Christians from forcing their beief and trust in the Living God on to others who do not share that belief at public athetic contests, graduation ceremonies and the like. That just make sense to me for two reasons. First, if I can do that shouldn't, in the intrest of fairness, a Muslim or a satanist or a Jehovah Witness have the right to do the same. Now, I dont know about you, but I would REALLY be upset if my child came home to tell me he was forced to sit through something like that. My Eccumenical Spirit just doesn't extend quite that far! Secondly, God is not honored by the prayers of those who do not believe in Him. The prayers of the vast majority of those who sit at a football game or Graduation are not going any higher than the ceiling because they have no personal relationship with the Lord anyway. So why do it? What's the point?

Just my thoughts.... Mike

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2000

Mike, Many thanks for your thoughts on this topic. Your reasoned position seems to support the two prevaling views: [1] moments of silent meditation have not been revoked and [2] non-sectarian prayers are permissable in public venues. I personally find the High Court reversing the second view. The High Court's ruling places a moratorium on student led prayers in public events. Now if a student decides independently from school authorities that invoking the presence of the ALL Mighty enhances and enriches a public school event the Court's ruling strips the student of this opportunity. How is an innocuous prayer request in a public forum spiritually detrimental to those in attendance? If the prayer is non-sectarian and doesn't make proselytizing a centerpiece why should the student be denied this freedom? I hear a lot of things everyday which I may find offensive coming from even government authorities, yet I know how to selectively tune out the blathering banter of public officials. Heated rivalries by cross-town schools can lead into unnecessary violence, mayhem and sometimes death. If student led prayers are a deterrent to socially dysfunctional behavior the educational process is only enhanced not hindered. Perhaps the majority Justices who ruled in this irresponsible manner should accompany me to the funerals of teens slain over school colors. Just my thoughts.

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2000

I think that there should be praying in school.Even if there are people with other relgions.

-- Anonymous, February 15, 2001

I agree with Pastor Barta, I grew up at a time when school prayer was required in school in Cleveland Ohio, 1959. I hated prayer for the teachers portrayed God as an abusive God who hated black people. We had to repeat everything that the teacher said. Believe me it did not bring me closer to God as a child for I only was taught about a God of abuse. One of my teenagers in my church brought up this very issue this past week. She is on the swim team and always prays before a meet, she has begun to ask other kids on the team to join her. She now wants to give bibles to two of her friends, and she wanted to know about seperation of church and state. I told her her peers would respond better to her leading prayer than an adult and if the holy spirit is moving her to give the bibles to two students to do it.

-- Anonymous, February 15, 2001

I don't think the ruling overturned prayer in school, that is, at the base of the flag, in a voluntary situation, where those who gather with the intent to pray may pray. I think it overturns prayer at the beginning of anb event where others who may not worship as we do are gathered with us.

-- Anonymous, February 15, 2001

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