Religion in Public
by Ed Stevens
Did the U.S. Supreme Court do right in ruling that the New York Board of Regents' recommendation for recital of a dictated prayer at the beginning of each school day was "an establishment of religion, forbidden by the First Amendment"? Many outcries have been heard against this ruling, such as, "The justices have taken God out of the law of the land", and, "Christmas and Easter will be attacked next", etc.
Consider Justice Black's words: "Placing the power, prestige and financial support of government behind a particular form of religious observance tends to coerce religious minorities to conform." Who can deny that this applies also to the religious observance of Christmas and Easter, which festivals are definitely "religious" as supposedly celebrating the birth and the resurrection of Jesus Christ? These two festivals being observed in the public schools throughout the land, is this not an "establishment of religion", and are not the children of parents who object to these festivals (the "minorities") coerced or socially ostracized.
But let us consider the whole from the purely Christian and biblical standpoint. Those who take God's Word "as a lamp to their feet and a guide to their way" (Psalm 119:105) know that therein they are "thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:17) and that no directions are given to celebrate either the birth or the resurrection of Christ. As for the matter of prayer in the public schools, the Bible clearly teaches that Christian conduct is not to be established by legislation, and that the church and state are indeed separate. "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." Matt. 22:21. In this present dispensation God is merely "taking out of the Gentiles (or nations) a people for His name" constituting "the church which is Christ's body", to which is "added" by the Lord every saved person in the world. Acts 15:14; 2:47; Ephesians 1:22, 23.
Prayer and Bible study definitely belong in the home and also in the church assembly. Deut. 6:6, 7; Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:16, 17.
Suppose a public school teacher, a Buddhist, should say, "Children we shall now pray to Buddha." Would this not arouse the wrath of many? What is there to prevent it?
Is the "recital" of prayer in the classroom made in the name of Him who is a scandal (an offence) to many, the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are Christ's words taught to the children: "I am the Way (to God and heaven), the Truth and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father but BY ME."? John 14:6. (See also. John 5:23.) If not, they are led to believe that apart from Christ they can pray to God and be heard, which is a satanic deception! The Bible teaches that God heeds only the prayers of His own born-again children who have accepted His crucified Son as their personal Savior and Lord. The only prayer of the unsaved God will hear (and wants to hear) is one, for example: "God, be merciful to me a sinner." Luke 18:13. This must come first! "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit." Psalm 34:18.
The thoughtful Christian will thank God for the decision of the Supreme Court about prayers in public schools. A little often leads to more. More "establishment of religion" might occur, finally leading perhaps to the First Amendment being abolished and to a union of church and state. Two of the "founding fathers" of our country. Jefferson and Madison, wisely observed: "Religious MONOPOLY and religious OPPRESSION are never far apart." Right, as, proved by history and certain nations today!
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