On Monday, Gov. Rick Perry, R-Texas, said he sees no problem with ignoring the U.S. Supreme Court ban on organized school prayer “at this very crisis moment in our history.” He defended a decision to have a Protestant minister open a middle-school assembly with prayer last week.
“Any time you have a crisis that faces you either in your personal life or as we have now in our country, reaching out to a supreme being is a very normal act,” said the governor, who attended the school assembly in Palestine.
You will recall that last year, the High Court ruled in a Texas case that organized prayers before high-school football games were unconstitutional. In fact, the court has outlawed organized school prayer since 1963.
Many, including me, believe that fateful decision launched the onset of descent in American education. Our nation’s schools have replaced God with moral relativism and situational ethics in the nearly four decades following that decision. Subsequently, our children learn that there are no absolute truths, no moral authorities, no governing principles to guide their behavior.
Gov. Perry said on Monday that he is ready to make school prayer a campaign issue as he seeks election next year to a full four-year term. Prior to the Sept. 11 attacks on our nation, this might have been an unwise campaign approach. But not now.
The suicide attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., and the failed attack that resulted in a downed plane in Pennsylvania, have motivated Americans to reconsider the secular path down which our nation has embarked. Many have seen the error of this downward trajectory. They now see our need for God in the conduct of our nation.
I’m not saying every American must be forced to pray. I’m simply saying that those Americans who embrace prayer as a way of life – as a way of literal sustenance – must not be prohibited from this quest.
“Why can’t we say a prayer at a football game or a patriotic event like we held at Palestine Middle School?” Mr. Perry asked. “I don’t understand the logic of that. I happen to think it was appropriate.”
To that, millions of Americans say AMEN!
Of course, there are those who ardently object.
Samantha Smoot of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors the activities of religious groups in education, is one of those individuals. She told the Associated Press this week that, while school prayer “is a tempting issue for a politician,” it “isn’t until later that voters start thinking, ‘What if it isn’t my God they’re worshipping, or my prayer?'”
That’s an empty argument. I’m probably seen as one of the most conservative religious leaders in the nation – a dangerous religious fanatic in the eyes of some – but I have absolutely no problem with a student or religious leader of any faith leading a prayer at school. Prayer in school is not designed to alienate students because of their differences. It is designed to unite students and focus their attention – even if just for a moment each day – on the fact that this nation was founded by men who honored and revered God and that we continue in their tradition.
Gov. Perry noted that Congress and the Texas Legislature open their sessions with prayer, and suggested that public schools should be able to do the same. He correctly said that it was “very confusing,” that our nation permits this double standard.
We have seen the course of secularism in our schools, and it is obviously time for a change. It is high time our nation once again favors its people of faith by allowing our public-school students to be exposed to prayer and the pursuit of faith.
Those who would like to express their thanks to Gov. Perry for taking this courageous stand may do so by visiting his website.