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article imageOp-Ed: In desperate move, Trump promises to put religion back in schools

By Karen Graham     Jan 4, 2020 in Politics
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday said his Democratic opponents would tear down crosses and pledged to bring prayer to public schools at a re-election rally to shore up evangelical support.
Once again, our fearless leader has opened his mouth and shown how ignorant he really is when it comes to facts versus fiction - and when he spoke at the King Jesus International Ministry., on the outskirts of Miami Friday night - he really got the crowd of evangelicals stirred up.
Besides giving the crowd of close to 5,000 or so the impression that Democrats were heathens, Trump also said, "We are defending religion itself, it’s under siege. A society without religion cannot prosper.” This sounds like something you would hear in Iran - don't you think?
But Trump apparently does take the Pledge of Allegiance seriously, especially the part that says, "One nation under God." He mocked Democratic challenger Pete Buttigieg for having what he said was an unpronounceable last name and told attendees Democrats were waging war against religion.
"It's quite mandatory for a Republican to get the support of the evangelicals " said ...
"It's quite mandatory for a Republican to get the support of the evangelicals," said Baylor University professor Lydia Bean
Gali Tibbon, AFP/File
“These angry radicals want to impose absolute conformity by censoring speech, tearing down crosses and symbols of faith and banning religious believers from public life.” Anyone, even the most ardent supporters of Trump, can surely look at this statement and see that it is a pack of lies.
For one, we have free speech in this country. That is what makes the U.S. so special. From the press to anyone who wants to voice his or her opinion, they have the right, under the Constitution to do so. As for tearing down crosses and other symbols of faith - just look at the many denominations we have in this country. They all have different symbols of their faith - clearly visible to the public.
The one part of Trump's comment, about banning religious believers from public life is clearly a lie, and one that Trump hopes will be spewing from the mouths of his followers for months to come.
US President Donald Trump ticked off his list of enemies as he addressed supporters in Michigan
US President Donald Trump ticked off his list of enemies as he addressed supporters in Michigan
But the biggest reaction from the crowd, many wearing Trump's signature red campaign hats, came when he promised to bring religion into U.S. schools, according to Reuters. More specifically, he promised to bring prayer back into our schools.
“Very soon I’ll be taking action to safeguard students' and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools,” Trump said. “They want to take that right along with many other ones.”
The truth about prayer in schools
In using the word "they," I suppose Trump was referring to anyone who is not a diehard Republican. "They" must mean me, an independent who has voted for candidates of both parties, all the Democrats, or the millions of people whose religion is not that of evangelical Christians.
President Donald Trump bows his head in prayer during an address from the Cabinet Room to celebrate ...
President Donald Trump bows his head in prayer during an address from the Cabinet Room to celebrate the imminent adoption of the Republican tax cut plan
Here is the truth, folks. The Supreme Court has never outlawed “prayer in schools.” Students are free to pray alone or in groups, as long as such prayers are not disruptive and do not infringe upon the rights of others. But this right “to engage in voluntary prayer does not include the right to have a captive audience listen or to compel other students to participate," writes the Freedom Forum Institute.
In its 1962 ruling (Engel v. Vitale), The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school-sponsored prayer in public schools violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Writing for the majority, Justice Hugo L. Black said: “the First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say.”
This does not mean that a student can't pray in school. Students have the right to pray, as guided by individual conscience during the school day, as long as they do it in a non-disruptive manner. They can pray at the beginning of the day. They can pray over lunch. They can pray before they take a test.
Students cannot make anyone else take part in their prayers, but the individual right to pray is secure and has been for as long as we’ve had public schools. Additionally, students can read religious (or non-religious) books such as the Bible, the Quran, the Upanishads, the Book of Mormon, Buddhist meditations, or anything else they want to read.
Donald Trump whipped up the crowd with his dark vision of conspirators and shadowy forces seeking to...
Donald Trump whipped up the crowd with his dark vision of conspirators and shadowy forces seeking to put down ordinary Americans
One more thing - We also have the Equal Access Act. It says: "It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings."
For those who have never heard of this Act, I'll make it real simple. This act allows students in secondary schools to form religious and non-religious clubs that meet during non-instructional time. These clubs are student-run and entirely voluntary, and those who chose to join can pray, read religious texts, share personal testimony and so on.
I well remember the forced scripture readings, prayers and other concessions to religion students were required to participate in prior to the 1962 Supreme Court Decision. How many of you remember that school lunches on Fridays were meatless? Can you remember that Catholic students got out of class for religious training? I do.
The point is this - America is now a country with many religions, and choosing to accommodate Christian prayer would be unconstitutional, and a violation of the First Amendment. So please, don't take the Trumpster at his word just because it happened to spew from his mouth.
Friday’s rally “is Trump’s desperate response to the realization that he is losing his primary voting bloc — faith voters,” said Doug Pagitt, the executive director of Vote Common Good, a progressive Christian group, on Friday.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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