We just experienced another tragic school shooting and my heart aches for all those concerned. To lose our children at such a young age in such a senseless tragedy is beyond unconscionable.
It is also after these kinds of disasters that people start arguing once again that "this all happened because God and prayer were taken out of the schools.” This is an insult to every faith believing person who attends or works in the school systems.
To be clear, God and prayer were NOT taken out of the schools. There are no signs on school entrances that say God and prayers are not allowed past those doors. Can you imagine God saying, “Sorry, kids and teachers… No matter what happens to you in the schools, once you get past these doors, you’re on your own. You can’t call on me and you can’t pray.”
Ask any faith believing person and they’ll tell you that God is always with them and they can pray any time they want to. The only thing we can’t do is force a particular religion/prayer on everyone else. If we did, whose religion and whose prayers would we use? Even if people specified Christianity, there are thousands of sub-denominations all believing and praying in different ways. We live in a beautiful diverse nation where people come from all religions and belief systems and to deny all but one is not fair.
Most all schools offer a moment of silence after saying the Pledge of Allegiance. During this moment of silence, anyone can pray any prayer they so desire. It’s for all religions. There are also a lot of faith based programs in the schools, students and teachers can bring their scriptures and read from them, and they can meet for studies with one other. But again, no one religion or belief system can be forced on everyone else, as well it should be. There are also countless religious groups joining together all over the world to get to know each other in love, peace, and harmony and no one forces anything on anyone.
So many of our children are feeling lost, alone, and unloved. They just want to know that they matter, that someone cares, and to have their very existence acknowledged. Instead of blaming God and prayers, how about if we try being there for our children, whether it’s ours or someone else’s? Let our homes be a safe haven where kids can know that they are loved and accepted just as they are. Teach our children to befriend those who are considered different. And if we see children who need help, let’s try to get them the help that they need.
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” Fred Rogers
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 23, 2018.