No, mandatory school prayer will not prevent shootings.

It seems that no school shooting is complete without renewed calls for mandatory prayer in the public school classroom. But how exactly would that help?

What sort of Creator do the proponents of mandatory prayer envision? Only a barbarous God would demand prayers from schoolchildren before protecting them from being shot to death. Is He really so voracious for praise? Is He really so ruthless in extorting it from us? Should we trust such a deity to help us, if He egomaniacally threatens us so — with violence so horrifying that we are loathe to even imagine it?

And if prayer is sufficient to secure this god’s protection, then why do we see shootings at houses of worship? Were the victims there not praying hard enough? Were they just not sincere enough in their invocations?
Finally, why should arriving police wear body armor, instead of only the “armor of God” that their prayers could afford them? Shouldn’t that be enough, according to those calling for mandatory prayer?

Separation of church and state is enshrined in our Constitution. By keeping the government and public institutions neutral in religious matters, it protects the rights of both religious and non-religious people. (Students are already perfectly free to pray voluntarily, alone or in groups, without being prompted by school staff — because the First Amendment protects their rights, as well.)

Church and state are like peanut butter and tuna fish. Either one of those things might be just fine on their own — but not when they are combined together.



InfantSamuel

“The Infant Samuel,” Joshua Reynolds, 1776

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