Officials at San Diego’s Carver Elementary are setting aside a 15-minute prayer break each afternoon for Muslim students and instructing non-Muslim students to read or write during the break. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI) is calling for the same accommodation for other students who wish to pray. Barry Lynn, your silence is deafening.
Attorney Pete Lepiscopo, a PJI-affiliated attorney, sent a letter last week to the San Diego Board of Education that explains numerous statutory provisions that affirm students’ rights of religious equality. Lepiscopo requested that classrooms be set aside for students and employees of all faiths to meet their religious obligations to pray – as is being done for Muslim students.
“The school district has created the opportunity to return prayer to school,” he said. “What can be better than children praying while they are in school?”
Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst with Focus on the Family Action, said as long as the school adheres to two constitutional guidelines, a designated time of prayer would be legal.
“First, no teachers could lead prayer or pray with students – everything must be voluntary by the students,” he said. “Second, the school would have to make the same religious accommodation available for those of all other religions.”
In order to ensure that all religious exercise is voluntary, the letter suggests that the prayer times coincide with recess.
Brad Dacus, president of PJI, said voluntary, student-initiated prayer in schools should not be controversial.
“The federal courts have held that schools do not endorse everything they fail to censor,” he said. “This could be a terrific opportunity for a whole community to recognize the importance of faith in our youth, without government involvement or interference.”
Oh, Baaarrrrryyy . . .
Just because we fear a backlash of anger from Islamists over denying their prayer time still does not make adding prayer for all religions compatible with the First Amendment’s orginal intent, which of course is Christianity. All of the Founders’ writings in regards to education were geared towards teaching Christianity, not “all religions.” Certainly they recognized other religions but were not hostile towards them. It was Christianity that they felt should be taught.
Now, even under breathingist court rulings, Christianity and other religions have a case here where the school has attempted to establish Islam as the official school religion.