I was reading an article about John Barrasso's stances on a variety of issues when I came across this quote from our Wyoming Senator: "I have voted for prayer in schools." His responses to a questionnaire is that he strongly favors teacher led prayer in public schools. "Strongly favors" means he believes Judeo-Christian values are American values. Belief in God is what America was founded upon, so praying in school or other public places does not violate the separation of church and state. Displaying the Ten Commandments is appropriate because they are the moral basis for Western law. The Pledge of Allegiance should continue to include the phrase "Under God."
I feel it's a travesty that Jr. Senator Barrasso has this mindset. To me, America is about being a melting pot and accepting all people and celebrating diversity. It seems to me that prayer in public schools opens a floodgate of opportunity for discrimination. If he is going to be for religion in schools, he should embrace all religions and allow for specific customs and time frames of prayer of non-christian faiths. For example, a Muslim child should be allowed to practice their prayers at the times required by their religion. He supports a teacher leading the classroom in prayer based on Judeo-Christianity, but what happens if the teacher is Hindu or Buddhist? The inequity is apparent. Would he require every student to participate? Can a child with an atheist upbringing opt out of participation without being ostracized by pint-sized religious zealots? Can he guarantee that every child would be treated fairly? And what exactly does he think students should be praying for in school...are they praying for better grades or loftier notions such as world peace? How much time in the school day does he deem appropriate? And how would he prevent teachers and staff, in the position of authority and power, from influencing children with their own ideologies. How can Senator Barrasso be for government run schools pushing religion of any kind? When the focus and purpose of attending a public school is education, using the classroom hours for school led prayer seems to be a misuse of valuable time.
Earlier this week I attended a field trip with my first-grade daughter. After the morning bell rang, the class stood up at their desks, put their right hands over their hearts, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." It reminded me of a piece I read about the writer of the pledge, Francis Bellamy. His original words, put to paper in 1892, were as follows: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Bellamy had contemplated adding the word "equality" to his pledge, but knew the prevailing opinions of the time were against equality for women and African Americans. You'll notice there is no 'under God' in his original piece. That was added later by congress in 1954 after lobbying by the Knights of Columbus. The pledge as it now stands, in my opinion, is discriminatory. People will argue that "Under God" could mean any one's god. When you start calling these various gods by name, the absurdness of this notion shines through. "One nation, under Christ Jesus", or "One nation, under Allah". Heck, why not "One nation, under Thor"? If you can substitute any god, a Christian god, a Hindu god, a Muslim god, then what is the point of pledging allegiance? Isn't the pledge suppose to be a uniting statement? It seems to work better without the religious preferences thrown in.
The government injecting religion into schools is a bad idea. I say let people practice their religion in their churches, mosques, synagogues, and homes, but leave it out of the public school system. The fact that Senator Barrasso supports it is unnerving. Zeus bless America. In Yahweh We Trust.