The DeSoto County (MS.) School Board has received a letter from something called the Freedom From Religion Foundation, demanding an end to prayers at public school functions, including sports events and graduations. I cannot say that I’m surprised, and things being what they are nowadays, I am sure a lawsuit will follow.
But does the US Constitution, which clearly guarantees freedom of religion, guarantee freedom FROM religion? To go further, does it (or even could it) guarantee any citizen shelter from any and everything that offends him? Of course not, and to do so would be at the expense of some of its other guarantees, such as freedom of speech and the right of public assembly.
To go further, one does not have to be religious to appreciate the value of allowing religious discussion and public prayer, even in the setting of public schools, perhaps all the more in that setting. For young people need to learn early that in a free society, people have different beliefs and different outlooks. One of the responsibilities of the public school is to teach children to respect the differing viewpoints of others even if they disagree. Children must learn to respect the beliefs of Christians even if they themselves are atheists or agnostics, and Christians should be able to respectfully listen to a rabbi from the local synagogue without feeling that they have been “damaged” in some way.
It is not the responsibility of the school authorities to arrange for the removal of every little thing that might offend particular students, all the more so when it is probably no more than a handful of students actually offended. Here’s hoping the DeSoto County School Board will ignore the ridiculous letter, and, if sued, will defend freedom of religious expression to the bitter end.