Yesterday, the “Right to Pray” amendment was approved in Missouri. This revision of the state’s constitution includes a provision that gives the students the right to participate in prayer in public schools on a voluntary basis. This is a predictable move for MO, as 71% of the population is listed as “affiliate with a religion.” (see source here)
This is a challenge for a country which federal rules include the Establishment Clause. Its pronouncement states that lawmakers “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” (see source here). While the Missouri amendment was clear about voluntary participation of students in a religious activity (prayer), this is also in contradiction with Thomas Jefferson’s intent to build a “wall of separation between the church and the state.”
I live in a Catholic-dominated country, and I was enrolled in Catholic schools. We were taught to observe rites and traditions, such as communions, masses and confessions. While I always have reservations about these things, my parents have always reminded me that this is a matter of conforming with the rules established by people who run the place. Since I have to abide by the regulations, I was forced to memorize their songs, participate (and sometimes lead) in prayers, and take part in their eucharistic celebrations. What I was never comfortable with was the regular confessions to the school priests. I never understood the logic of telling a religious person the things I did wrong, and that he will forgive me “through the grace of god.” I’ve always believed that faith is something personal, and it wouldn’t make sense to course things like this to someone–not even the clergy.
Yes, it is personal. It is a philosophy. It is an encompassed set of beliefs and ideals that should not be dictated by the church, by the law, by the authorities. NOBODY should tell anyone to pray, or to confess, or to live his or her life in a certain way. This is why I am fighting for secularism–people must not be told to limit logic in order for religion to become as it is–a tyranny.