Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Lee Dresselhaus / L’Observateur / April 5, 2000

So..the ghost of another issue that haunts our supposedly free societyhas once again come back to haunt us.

The specter of prayer in school is again scaring the daylights out of people, although for the life of me I can’t understand why that is. Okay, okay, I know,separation of church and state all that, but I have a few points to make on this issue, which should be one of such simple common sense. Instead, it’s asconvoluted and twisted as it can possibly become.

To start off with, I’ll hand the religious people some rocks to throw at me.

I’m not a religious man – for which I may one day pay the piper – and those on the extreme right of religion, the Falwells and the Robertsons, are downright annoying people. They want to shove their version of How Things Are down allof our throats because that’s how they make their living, and darn good livings they are. They’re not exactly itinerant preachers, going door to doorto save souls, are they? Those type folks manage to take care of themselves very nicely while spreading The Word so, being me, I’ve become suspicious of their motives.

And now for the other side.

On the other hand, the little ACLU gremlins like Joe Cook and his bunch run around thrusting themselves into places they don’t really belong and getting into the machinery of our everyday lives with an annoying alacrity. Theydon’t spread The Word like Falwell, they spread their form of the new gospel, which is The Way Things Should Be. In the guise of making sure we don’t gettrampled by the bullies of everyday life, they have become a dictatorial force in and of themselves. They know what’s best for us, by gosh, whether we likeit or not.

The school prayer issue is a fine one with which to illustrate this point.

Recently in a small town in Texas, a student, a girl, was selected to give a short talk before a football game. This particular school allows the chosenstudent to speak on just about whatever subject they choose, within the bounds of reason, of course. This student decided to lead people in a shortprayer.

Little did she know that her good intentions would become the latest volleyball between the two sides of the school prayer issue.

The ACLU quickly began to howl that this is wrong. That having prayer inschool crushes the rights of those who would choose not to participate, or those of religions other than the mainstream Christian faiths that make up the majority of the people in this country. And this hemisphere, in fact. Theyshout about separation of church and state, and about the constitutionality of the issue.

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, I may not be a smart man, but if you read what the constitution says about that issue, I think it pretty clearly states that the government shall not set up a mandatory religion for the people. That’swhy they came here in the very first place, remember? I don’t think the Founding Fathers meant for that premise to be used to eliminate prayer.

Leading a prayer in school is hardly a threat to all those Druid children out there who attend our public schools along with those mean old Christians.

Another point is simply this. I said before that I’m not a religious man, buteven a sinner like me can recognize the values taught in religion are good, sound values. The three main religions, Christianity, Judism, and Islam allteach the same principles. They all recognize basic truths such as the wholeThou Shalt Not Murder thing. Now there’s something we don’t want taught inour schools, isn’t it? Let’s see, what other evils would school prayer plant in our kids’ little pointed heads? Thou Shalt Not Steal. Now, that’s a subversion of our entire free system if Iever heard it. Can’t have that, either. How about the whole thing about not bearing false witness against someone? Nope. Mustn’t allow our kids a daily exposure to that little principle.Okay, here’s one: Honor Thy Father And Mother. Take a good look around. Dothe math. This is one principle that has been lost on our youth in a big way.Heaven forbid this principle should be discussed in our schools.

Not being religious, I feel that I have an objective viewpoint – and no personal agenda – in this issue. I’m having a hard time understanding just who would beso grievously injured if maybe our kids did get a little more exposure to the values taught by religion. If someone wanted to lead a prayer in themornings, let them. I can assure all you ACLU types out there that the worldwill not come to an end because of it. And if someone else doesn’t want toparticipate they can stand there or sit there and do whatever for the minute or two the whole thing takes, or ask for equal time. That’s their right. Why isn’t it an equal right to pray if you want, even when there’s not a test that day?

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