Ryan: Prayer In Public Schools Is A State Issue

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

Paul Ryan, Republican nominee for Vice President, said he believes that states should have the right to determine if prayer in public schools is allowed. In response to a question from a campaign volunteer, Ryan said that’s “a constitutional issue of the states.” Prayer in public schools is a hot-button issue for religious conservatives. Was Ryan simply pandering to the Republican base or does he truly not support the separation of church and state?

While any student can silently pray during school, that’s not the kind of prayer that the religious right is talking about. They want the kind of prayer that is foisted upon young minds by school authority figures. Those in the classroom are a captive audience, compelled by law to attend.

In the case of Engel v. Vitale (1962), the Supreme Court found that a New York state law, directing a School District’s principal to cause a prayer to be said aloud by each class in the presence of a teacher, was “wholly inconsistent with the Establishment Clause.” The Court noted that the First Amendment was “made applicable to the State of New York by the Fourteenth Amendment of the said Constitution.”

Ryan goes on to say that the decision to say a prayer is the “moral responsibility of parents.” However, a government sponsored prayer violates the very parental responsibility he claims to support. The decision not to say a prayer is also the responsibility of parents. A child should neither be pressured to pray nor pressured not to pray. Religious parents would scream bloody murder if their child was pressured not to pray, but these same parents have no qualms when pressuring other children to pray.

Government sponsored prayer in public schools is a blatant attempt to refresh and reinforce religious beliefs of  the children of religious parents and indoctrinate the children of parents who have different beliefs.

H/T: Steve M., New York Times, Americans United.

131 thoughts on “Ryan: Prayer In Public Schools Is A State Issue

  1. rafflaw,

    First I’ll admit I’ve skipped all comments after yours, your comment being “Well said David. Wasn’t Slavery a States issue as well??”

    Why? because the ignorance is striking. Your implication is nothing I haven’t seen before about States’ Rights, the implication that any claim to States’ rights is somehow no more legitimate than, and expressly linked to, Slavery. Yet, we are supposedly living in a Constitutional Republic that recognizes states’ rights and a limited Federal Government (I know, they are only words that mean whatever we choose them to mean). Incorporation doesn’t diminish that

    A quick lesson on the Atlantic slave trade, the banning of that trade, and the end of slavery in the Americas. The ban was in 1807 by the British, who aggressively pursued it, and the USofA in 1808, desultory at worst. The Atlantic Slave trade, about 40 to 45% of the whole slave trade, put 6% of the slaves in the USofA (as colonies, as well post), the rest went to the Caribbean (most) and Brazil (about 35% to that country), and some other sundry countries. Driving economic force wasn’t cotton but sugar cane, cotton came later.

    So we have the division of the Atlantic slave trade, and certainly not solely an American institution, but let’s look when slavery ended in the Americas (don’t confuse slave trade and slavery). The British ended it in 1833, the French in 1858, the Portuguese (Brazil) in 1868 but not effective until 1888. Outside of the Atlantic Slave trade, try 1940’s through 1962, the Middle East continued legal slavery. I believe there is at least one Arab country past that date. That’s official, not practice.

    So practice may be an important consideration, and leads me to the real stain on the USofA. It’s not slavery, obviously when many countries didn’t quit the practice until the middle of the 20th Century, it’s what the South Africans did well, so well, after us (the Aussies did a lessor practice around 1966 (sic) by banning any immigrant not European, don’t know about the Kiwis). The SA’s called it Apartheid, we called it Jim Crow and we did it officially in 1896. You know who gave it the go ahead, without anything alluding to it in the Constitution, that group who are so good at whole cloth rulings, the SCOTUS. Jim Crow was a Federal ruling and it is a greater stain than slavery and it pissed on the Reconstruction Amendments.

    I should fear States’ Rights well after Slavery, which was only one issue and only one region’s issue? We fought a brief but horrendous war on that region’s one issue of State’s rights, and Jim Crow was how long blessed by SCOTUS?

    • “Your implication is nothing I haven’t seen before about States’ Rights, the implication that any claim to States’ rights is somehow no more legitimate than, and expressly linked to, Slavery.”


      Your comment was little more that patched together obfuscation of what was going on. What you stated was true, but lacked full context. The truth about reconstruction was that it was effectively ended with the attempted impeachment of Andrew Johnson, who made a deal with the Southern states to remain as President. Reconstruction’s gains were rolled back and the South went from being a defeated region, into one that held great power over this country through its habit of returning congressional incumbents year after year, giving them seniority. Supreme Court appointments also reflected this Southern power. The truth is, that in effect the South won the Civil War and that truth remains today. This is why the Republicans developed the Southern
      (Racist) Strategy that gives the region such power today.

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