For nearly two centuries, Americans were free to pray in public to God anywhere and anytime. Most public schools opened their days with prayer. Many high school and college football games also had prayer before the game. Schools held a Baccalaureate service prior to graduation. Public and government meetings were also opened with prayer.
Prayer was an integral part of public life. We were still ‘One Nation Under God’ at that time. Then in the 1960s, people like Madelyn Murray O’Hare began filing lawsuits that stripped Christianity from public and government life. By the turn of the millennium, student’s in public schools were no longer allowed to pray during class, at sporting events, holiday programs, graduations and Baccalaureate services. Public and government meetings were banned from invoking the Lord’s blessing over their deliberations.
A movement in Missouri has been launched to correct this gross infringement on their First Amendment rights to the freedom of religion and speech. The effort led to the Missouri state legislature approving an amendment to the state constitution to allow public prayer as long as it does not disturb the peace. The measure next has to be approved by voters.
Advocates for the constitutional amendment point out that public school students would be allowed to express their religious beliefs in school settings. It will prevent any student from being forced into taking part in any school project or assignment that causes them to violate their faith.
Before appearing on the November ballot, bleeding heart anti-religion liberals filed a lawsuit to block the measure. Besides the obvious religious objections, they claim that the constitutional amendment could be misused by students to avoid doing homework. Additionally they said that it could cause some prisoners to lose some of their religious protections during their incarcerations.
The case went before Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce. After hearing arguments for both sides, Joyce ruled that the constitutional measure is okay to appear on the November ballots throughout the state of Missouri.
The opponents have not said if they will appeal Judge Joyce’s ruling or not, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them continue to fight the proposed amendment.
I think it’s a sad commentary when those wishing to experience the same religious freedoms the Founding Fathers provided for us at a huge cost of life and money. Thousands of colonists died to give us that freedom to pray in public as well as in private. Even Benjamin Franklin, who many erroneously identified as a deist, believed in public prayer and even suggested it be the starting point of each day’s Continental Congress’s meetings as they drafted the Constitution of the United Stated.
If the measure is defeated, it will be as if these men and women had died in vain. It will also be another nail in America’s Christian coffin.