A note slipped to me by a 6th grade boy
In every school that I visit, I find the same dilemma - a fear to be identified as Christian. How has that happened? Over decades of misinformation, Christians in the public schools have been told that prayer is a violation of the separation of church and state. That one phrase has been used over and over again without real understanding. Separation of church and state is not even in the Constitution, but in a letter from Thomas Jefferson. What was passed by the Supreme Court in 1962 was to disallow prayer sanctioned by the "state." In other words, teachers could not lead prayer nor could a time of organized prayer by the school be held.
Is it any wonder that there is confusion? Truth be told, students of all faiths are free to pray alone or in groups during the school day, as long as they don't disrupt or interfere with instructional time. Teachers are allowed to pray with each other and for the students BEFORE or AFTER their contract times. Yet, so many of us have believed that separation of church and state is part of the Bill of Rights when in fact you cannot even find that phrase in the Constitution at all. What the First Amendment says is: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Prayer is free speech and as Americans, we do not leave their 1st Amendment rights at the school house door.
No matter where you find yourself on this matter, the reality is that most of the public school community is misinformed or overzealous or over concerned. As long as there are standardized tests in schools, there will be prayer in school! Because I have the unique opportunity to visit scores of schools each year, I purposely seek out the Christians on campus to encourage, equip and empower them in their Godly walk. At times, it is very easy to identify a Christian, but at other times, I will find that when I finally find one, it slowly leads to many more. Being in Christian fellowship with your colleagues, in a gracious, open-ending way is not only a blessing personally, but a blessing for the schools. Educators who walk their walk, will love the unlovable, provide for the needs of the less fortunate and see the children and their colleagues as fearfully and wonderfully made.
If you are a Christian in the public schools, seek out a colleague that you can pray with before or after school. Ask God for the specific needs of your campus and begin to serve as an ambassador. There are thousands of Christians in the public schools who feel unsure of what they can and cannot do and therefore fall into the misinformed arena. Here are a few things you can do right away:
- Understand your legal parameters. Read the first entry of this blog.
- Research what tools are available to you on the Christian Educators' website - www.ceai.org
- Read the post "Be Jesus"
- Pray each school day at 1:16PM. www.one16pray.com
- Read/listen to the Word of God each school day in unity with your brothers and sisters in the public schools. www.aw180days.com
- Visit, "like" and add comments to our Facebook pages (there's one for Christian Educator, 1:16PM and Around the Word in 180 Days)
You are not alone. You have thousands of like-minded Christians in the public school who, like you, are wondering what they can and cannot do. The most important thing is to frame everything you do around "What Would Jesus Do?" There is really no need to use words, but instead just "Be Jesus."
As always, I am
PS. Don’t forget to spread the word about the 1:16PM Prayer Movement and Around the Word in 180 Days:
• Visit, "like", and add comments the 1:16PM Facebook page and the Around the World in 180 days Facebook page.
• Sign up for text message prayer prompts from Remind 101
• Follow us on Twitter for the prayer prompts @one16pray
May God bless you with success His way this 2014-2015 school year.
Note: To more fully understand the 16-9 Movement, please read the first blog entry by clicking here.
Christian Educators Association International is the only professional association in the United States specifically for Christian educators in public schools. CEAI protects our members first in prayer, next with excellent professional liability insurance and other benefits while helping them live out their high calling as a Christian in the public school.