Religious FreedomPrint

About That Prayer Plaque That Used to Be on the Wall

by Stuart Shepard

It was just a rather sizable, but otherwise plain-looking, plaque on the wall of the Spiller Elementary lunchroom.

It’s been at the Wytheville, Virginia, school for so long, no one remembers who put it there.

Here’s what it says – or rather – said:

Our Father:
We thank thee for this food.
Bless it to the nourishment
of our bodies and our lives
to Thy service. Amen.

That humble prayer is now in storage.

What’s that?

You say even you think there might be a problem with such a bold Christian expression in a public school? Especially the “Thy service” part? Because the courts have ruled this or that or something else?

Okay. That’s essentially the argument made by the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, which sent one of its threatening, copy-and-paste letters to school officials after hearing from (this is a quote) “a local member of the district.”

Umm, yeah, okay. We’ll go with that.

They said, “the display existed purely for the sake of proselytizing” and that “students should not have to view materials promoting a Christian message.”

Now, I could point out that for most of our Nation’s existence, prayer and study of the Bible was a regular part of the public-school curriculum.

Or how the famous Virginian, George Washington, proclaimed “… it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

(Seems like such a Christian message from a president would be a bigger deal than a plaque on the wall.)

Or how another famous Virginian and author of the First Amendment, Thomas Jefferson, did some audacious proselytizing when he signed a Thanksgiving Proclamation that praised the “glorious light of the Gospel” and explained how “through the merits of our gracious Redeemer, we may become the heirs of his eternal glory.”

(Yikes! Time for “a local member of the district” to call Wisconsin!)

I could do all that. But, instead, in these challenging times in 2017, here’s what I suggest:

Remind the young people in your life that they have a right to pray every day in the school lunchroom.

That they have a right to pray before school with their friends, and after school with their classmates, and quietly before the Algebra test.

That if their school allows non-curricular clubs, they can start a group to pray together and study the Bible.

That they can, if it fits the assignment, write about prayer and their faith in their school work and share it with their classmates.

And share the words of our Founders with them. And teach them a proper understanding of the First Amendment. And the importance of prayer.

Because, a prayer on a student’s lips is far more valuable than a prayer on a plaque on a wall.

 

Thanks to Gateways to Better Education for alerting us to this story.