Well-meaning moralists from time to time call for "prayer" in public schools. Some are willing to settle for a 30 second "silent" moment of reflection (read embarrassment) to start the day in American classrooms.
A sterile idea of course, but there appears in this recurring sentiment a recognition of a reality beyond the blackboard and the SAT. Our Lord quoted Moses when He put down the Tempter, "Man does not live by bread alone . . ." The trouble is, the bread being sought here is not "every Word that comes out of the mouth of God." Instead, it is another example of religious looting, unbelievers trying to get their bearings, trying for a moment of peace and quiet, while still rejecting the Prince of Peace.
Time magazine (Apr.11,1994, p.60) quotes mayor Marion Barry of Washington D.C. "Maybe, just maybe, it will turn some of our values around." He says, "We’ve lost our way." The "values" that the mayor had in mind were not listed. We are left to guess. He probably meant to say consequences. It should have come out as, maybe it (prayer) will turn some of our consequences around.
Few people continue to take public education seriously. It is tolerated like a bad neighborhood. It can’t be made to go away so the wise try to avoid going through it. With ethical garbage waist deep the atmosphere of the classroom reeks of cultural death. Crime has replaced recess. Ecological no-nos are substituted for the ten commandments. Political correctness passes for the Gospel and is preached with equal fervor.
Children of the state now should be taught to pray? To whom? For what? Sacrifice of a piglet each morning on closed-circuit television would be more appropriate. Many occult practices have already found their way into "academic" programs.
Christian are told in Scripture to pray for the condemnation of this corrupt seed, to plead with God that their "prayer become sin." (Ps.109:7) The reason for this curse is that God’s holy honor must be recognized, not made common with idolatry.
Indeed, pagan invocations are sin. They are not made in the Name and merits of Jesus Christ and are not brought before His throne in faith. As the Lord said to Israel when the nation turned against Him, their faithless prayers were "smoke in His nose," an irritation screaming for wrath.
God’s people should not support the idea of "returning prayer to America’s schools." Our Lord will not be put on the same level with Mohammed, the Mahareshi or a current rock star. God is not pleased to be put on a par with idols.
An already bad situation will be made worse if we provoke our Maker further with bogus supplication to some profane fetish or in the name of a federal order.
Complicating the issue is the case of the special-education students in Kiryas Joel, in upstate New York, a Hasidic community that is fighting for government aid. This controversy involves the Satmar sect of Orthodox Jewry, a group which demands that the state pay for the education of its handicapped children.
The muddle is made worse yet by a mail campaign generated by TV evangelist Pat Robertson who urges that such prayers be permitted under the constitutional "free speech" privilege.
Let heathen children continue to pray to their political gods in Washington DC, their science and technology deities and their entertainment icons. Let the children of Christians cry out to the God of the Bible. "Choose you this day whom you will serve..." but don’t confuse the issue.
Rev. Dale K. Dykema