On Prayer in Public Schools

You may not have ever met Jessica Ahlquist. But chances are you know her cause. Ahlquist is the 16-year-old student at Cranston High School West in Cranston, R.I. who recently won a court case to remove a 40-year-old prayer banner from her public high school.

Oh, and [surprise] she is an atheist.

When asked about her reasoning for pushing for this measure, Ahlquist said:

“It’s almost like making a child get a shot even though they don’t want to. It’s for their own good. I feel like they might see it as a very negative thing right now, but I’m defending their Constitution, too.”

via NYT: Atheist teen forces school to remove prayer – US news – The New York Times – msnbc.com.

This line of logic is quite familiar. It was used by Andreas Karlstadt in the removal of icons from the Catholic churches in reformation Europe. As Karlstadt believed, God ordained him to take the knives (idols) away from children (former Catholics) so that they would stop hurting themselves.

Now, I am not opposed to enforcing the constitution. I believe that Christians should follow Jesus’ advice to render unto Caesar and unto God (Mark 12:17). I also do not think that it was wrong for the girl to be offended at the public school endorsement of religion, even though it happens to be the religion that I believe. I am, however, concerned that these kinds of legal battles are being pushed by atheists. I wish that Christians could be at the forefront of these things.

The first thing that I thought when I read this article was:

“I wonder if, during the process of the trial, if I held a prayer meeting at my house for the removal of this prayer banner from Cranston High School West, if Jessica Ahlquist would have attended…”

It’s this kind of scenario that brings the conflict into light. Is Miss Ahlquist opposed to prayer in school, or prayer in general? I think this is an important distinction that gets lost in the right enforcement of the constitution.

About Doug Hankins

Although not a Christian in his youth, Doug came to believe in Jesus during his teenage years. When not playing sports or pastoring Doug is probably spending time with his wife, reading a good book, or drinking some hot tea. Doug's first book Dawson Trotman: In His Own Words is available wherever books are sold. You can follow Doug on twitter.
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