I strongly believe there is a correlation between the rate of violence among our school-aged children and the banning of prayer from our schools. (To be clear, I am not speaking on behalf of the women’s organization in this post; these are my personal opinions. I share them to encourage discussion among this community of women who “promote healing and wholeness in the church, the society, and the world.”)
When my parents were coming up in the 1940s and 50s, studying the Bible—like reading, writing and arithmetic—was taught in the public school system. By the time I began attending school a quarter century later, prayer in public schools had been abolished. Now, in 2009, there is talk of discontinuing the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools because it references God.
In the 1940s and 50s, the typical family consisted of a two-parent household where the father worked outside the home and the mother stayed home and looked after the house and children. When I was in elementary school, the majority of my classmates had both parents at home, but both parents worked outside the home. Among my daughters’ friends, all the households are run by single-parent mothers who work outside the home.
Yes, I believe parents are responsible for the upbringing of their children. But they should not have to do it alone. There is an old African proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve come to believe this is true. And since single parents must work outside the home, the “village” should be there to assist them with their children. The reinstitution of prayer in the schools could be a way for the “village” to be in community with parents.
The book of Romans says that faith comes by hearing the Word of God. By allowing God’s word to be taught in schools, it would ensure that God’s word is heard. For some of our children this would offer a sense of hope for the future. There are so many children today who don’t believe in a Supreme Being—or themselves. God’s word not only encourages us to hope in the future but also teaches the value of life and convicts us when we do wrong.
It is my belief that if the government allowed prayer in the schools, there would be less violence among our school-aged children.
What do you think? Should prayer be reinstated in public schools? Why or why not?
Deborah Powell is associate executive director, Women of the ELCA.