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home : blogs_old : ability and accountability August 01, 2014

Ability and Accountability
By Richard Haddad, Prescott Valley, AZ
"[Children] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
"Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it."

-- Two of my favorite quotes by Jim Henson

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Allow prayer back in school

 By Richard Haddad

There is a growing void of spirituality within many families as parents race around their children to earn a living and satisfy wants.

Not long ago my wife and I attended a school choir concert. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance, which included such faith-inspiring songs as "Amazing Grace," "Christ, Be Thine the Glory" and "Sing Joy."

During the performance, the music director spoke to the audience about his love for the children. He shared a touching moment about the time his students approached him and asked if they could pray together. I was impressed with this teacher's confidence to speak of spiritual things within the walls of a school.

Another educator, a principal, also stepped bravely over this intimidating line that is supposed to separate church and state. He was asked to speak at a school district function about improving education. He stood tall and said, "Now I am going to tell you something else I believe our kids need -- spiritual guidance." He spoke boldly of what he feels is a vital part of a child's life -- the opportunity to learn of spiritual things, to attend a church and develop an understanding of who they are and their own self-worth.

I applaud these educators for their courage and frankness. There is a growing void of spirituality within many families as parents race around their children to earn a living and satisfy wants. We seem to be afraid to talk about the need for spiritual moments in school settings for fear of someone accusing us of violating a law. There is wisdom in looking back and recognizing the positive influence that school prayer surely must have had on our society -- a society that, not long ago, produced a generation of individuals who knew right from wrong, attended church, and would not embrace or accept such blatant violations of God's laws.

It seems ironic that current laws allow our children to sing songs of praise to God in a school choir, but prohibit prayer in the classrooms.

Keep singing, kids!

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

Shari, yes... and... no. I offered half a loaf but you went and took the whole thing. Richard is right when he differentiates between “religion” and “spirituality.” There are some questions which can only be answered by inquiry into the metaphysical. Example? Is it “right” or “wrong” to teach religion in public school? To say it is “right” is to say it is right for everyone. But to be “right” for everyone requires an objective (or external) set of standards, superior to any, or even all, individuals and which can be applied consistently to all. To say it is “wrong” to teach religion in public schools requires the same absolute. The best the atheist, who wishes to be consistent, can say is that, “It seems to me, that it is wrong.” If there is no absolute standard of right and wrong, the best the atheist can legitimately hope for is majority opinion, i.e. the majority imposing their will on the minority by force; the strong, ruling over the weak. So you see, when dealing with matters of right and wrong in school; it is wrong to hit, it is wrong to cheat, it is right to do your best, REQUIRES inquiry into and acknowledgment of the metaphysical. Otherwise, when faced with the repeated question of “why?” you must ultimately retreat to “Because I said so.” Again, the strong, ruling over the weak. In such a world, it is the most fierce, the most ruthless, the most barbaric, who achieves power over all the rest, because he is willing to TAKE it, where others are not. On examination, I'm sure you'll find this is not the world you wish to live in. So, again, we return to the necessity of encouraging spiritual (if not religious) inquiry in education. But that is not to be confused with spiritual “guidance” or teaching. bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

Posted: Monday, August 17, 2009
Article comment by: Shari

Richard, with all due respect, the title of your blog says, "Allow prayer back in school." It says nothing about "children need spiritual guidance." I agree with you there, it's important to be healthy spiritually and have a strong sense of who you are. But I don't agree with you, at all, about prayer in school. Chris, you spoke a point well taken. Jews pray in Hebrew. I'm not sure, but I believe part of Catholic Mass is in Latin. Muslims pray to Allah. How then, do you propose we make a universal prayer that would please EVERYONE, including such a minority as atheists (who also have the right to attend public school and not feel a certain belief system is thrust upon them)? If kids want to privately pray in school, no one's telling them they can't. But pushing prayer into public school, to me, sounds like an awful lot of mind control. You and Chris both believe in Christ, yet you wouldn't want the other bestowing "spiritual guidance" to your kids in the classroom! And I'm not even Christian. Imagine how I would feel. Leave religion and anything dealing with spirituality where it belongs: in the home. Remember, there's a reason we have religious private schools. If you want your kids to pray in school YOUR way, then pay for a private school. Otherwise, control what you can: teach your kids about spiirtuality and hope they make a change for the better in our world.

Posted: Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Article comment by: Richard Haddad

Thanks Chris. You have some excellent points, and I appreciate your comments and your blog.
One of the great lessons often lost in history is what can happen when individuals, communities, countries, and entire civilizations turn their collective backs on God.

Posted: Sunday, August 09, 2009
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

You just proved my point, Richard. “You” think one thing. “I” think something different. Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly okay with that. The essence of tolerance isn't embracing someone else's position but accepting their right to have it. The point is, you think my definition is too narrow and I think yours is too broad. Neither of us would want the other “guiding” our children in spiritual matters. And we both claim to adhere to the Bible. Throw in all the other religions and what do you have, ecumenicalism? No, you have chaos. Acknowledge spiritual needs, yes. Encourage spiritual inquiry, yes. Give spiritual guidance in public school, no. bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

Posted: Sunday, August 09, 2009
Article comment by: Demarise DuBord

Bravo....for those educators to speak boldly about "spiritual needs." And to you Richard, for your article letting us know there are still educators who believe the spiritual needs of our children are important in this day and age.

Posted: Saturday, August 08, 2009
Article comment by: Richard Haddad

Chris, I think the prayers of a sincere heart are enough to appeal to the one true God no matter what definition man creates for Him.

Posted: Friday, August 07, 2009
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

You see, Richard? Even you, a knowledgeable man, can't enter in to this discussion without fomenting confusion. The God I worship is definitely NOT the god of Islam. For that matter, the God I worship isn't even the god YOU worship. By definition, truth is exclusive; there can only be one true God and if we disagree on the nature of that one true God, either one of us, or possibly both of us, are not worshiping the real God at all. A prayer generic enough to “cover all the bases” would not be specific enough to appeal to the one true God. Such a vague prayer wouldn't be based on faith but on doubt and I wouldn't want my child to be “guided” into believing such an approach was valid. No, I have no problem with praying at games or ceremonies. I have no problem with teachers, principals or students making public professions. But when done, it needs to be clear that such things are done by individuals and not under the authority or by the direction of the education establishment. bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

Posted: Friday, August 07, 2009
Article comment by: Richard Haddad

Both the definitions below are the first listings from dictionary.com:

–noun Islam.
the Supreme Being; God.

the one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe.

A prayer to God is recognized by faiths all over the world.

Posted: Friday, August 07, 2009
Article comment by: Equal Time for All.

Will there be a moment of prayer to Allah too?

Posted: Thursday, August 06, 2009
Article comment by: Richard Haddad

Thank you for your comments.
I do not mean to imply that the teaching of religion should be undertaken by our public schools -- and certainly private prayers can be expressed in our hearts in all places. It's the complete absence of any acknowledgement of God in our schools that concerns me. What message are we sending when our children see adults forbidding the offering of a prayer before a football game or other school event? Or what example are we setting when they see teachers and other students reprimanded for even suggesting a prayer.
Our country was founded by men and women who had a strong belief that we must be a nation of people willing to express our trust and faith in God. The teaching of spiritual specifics absolutely should be done in the home. But to have a public school system where even the very mention of God and prayer is stifled sends a message very different from that which carried our forefathers through the toughest of times.
In 1814 Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner. Today, most Americans only hear the first verse during sporting events or national celebrations. But there are four verses - and the final verse tells of a nation willing to petition God in public and in private.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Posted: Thursday, August 06, 2009
Article comment by: Claude Angeli

Thank you Chris, excellent point, to leave the teaching to the parents. I could not agree more. Every person has the freedom to follow their own belief system, if a child wants to pray in school, I have no problem with it as long it is kept personal and quiet. A public display does not represent the common beliefs of all members of society and and difficulties in allowing one after another will interrupt to peaceful and academic setting of the school campus. When we open the door to one, we are bound to open it to all. Somehow I get the impression that Mr. Haddad was speaking of a Christian god, what of the others Mr. Haddad? Where do you see this ending?

Posted: Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

Gee, Richard, I usually agree with you but there are some “inconvenient” facts that should be pointed out. First, private, self directed prayer has always been legal in schools. The ACLU wants us to think it's illegal but every case they've tried to bring to stop individual prayer, they've lost; so they've stopped trying. Second, you think “Spiritual Guidance” should be taught in school. You and I have very different theologies and I'm very good at teaching mine. Would you like me to teach your children? I believe if we just teach two things; observable truth and critical thinking, we can leave spiritual guidance to those with the greatest vested interest in it; the parents. bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

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