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Legal History, Public Education, Religion

Equal Access and the Big Lie of No Prayer in Public Schools

This graphic is making the rounds on Facebook:

Mary's Lamb

Aside from the implications of subscribing to a theology that assumes either a very weak deity who is defeated by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, or a pathologically insecure and petty god that demands the blood of innocents as payment for the lack of loud and frequent prayers in public schools, as a legal matter, nothing in the Supreme Court’s holdings mandates a complete absence of prayer in public schools. Despite the prohibition on school-sponsored prayers, no law prevents silent prayer by an individual student as they make their way through the school day. When I was young, my mother, who was quite religious but also cognizant and respectful of the Supreme Court’s rulings, suggested that should I feel the need for the Lord’s guidance during my day at school, I could just think my prayer as I walked through the halls or as I was sitting down in class before the teacher called everyone to order. “The Lord knows what is in your heart. You don’t need to say anything out loud.”

Students who wish to share their spiritual concerns and feelings with fellow students may do so pursuant to the Equal Access Act of 1984, which allows for student-organized religious clubs to meet on public secondary school grounds as long as the school allows other non-curricular clubs to meet on school grounds and no students are coerced into participating. Subject to non-coercion and school scheduling restrictions, these meetings may include prayer. In the thirty years since President Reagan signed the Equal Access Act into law, such clubs have proliferated and now operate in public schools across the country. While the number of such clubs has increased, so has the number of mass shootings risen steadily. School prayer has been illegal for over fifty years, but mass shootings have skyrocketed in the last fifteen as gun control laws have expired, been weakened, or even overturned. Far from being prohibited from following their faiths, students and their families have wide access to religious training, worship and prayer opportunities. What they also have is virtually unfettered access to guns.

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About legalfeet

I'm an essayist, commentator, lawyer and reporter with expertise in Constitutional Law, United States History, religion and public education. I cover current issues involving the First Amendment religion clauses, modern religious movements, scientific history and developments and the events in which these areas converge.

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© Robin Radner and Legalfeet, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robin Radner and Legalfeet with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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