The Florida House passed legislation Tuesday allowing student-led prayer at some school events. Though it is good that people want to express their religious beliefs and views, to allow students to say a prayer before public school events could isolate and exclude many students. The House is seriously blurring the separation of church and state with this legislation. It should never have been allowed to pass.
In the wake of Sept. 11, a religious resurgence has been experienced across the United States, and some lawmakers are using the opportunity to force their own religious beliefs and morality upon others in an unfair manner. There are plenty of ways that students can pray or meditate together, such as gathering before class or participating in the moment of silence that usually follows the Pledge of Allegiance.
However, allowing students to lead prayers before graduations and other events is wrong. Most likely the prayers will involve the word “God,” which has long been defended as being vague and inclusive of many religions. The problem is that it is not inclusive but exclusive – such a word pertains only to people of the Abrahamic religions, specifically Judaism, Christianity and Islam. But it is ignorant to think that even all three of those are included. The prayers are most likely Christian and will be led by Christians as they have in the past.
Beyond the supposed inclusion of Jews, Christians and Muslims, students who are Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist or any number of religions that do not fall into the “God” category will be left out. It is highly unlikely a graduation will begin with the chanting of the Hindu representation of unity and harmony, “Om.”
Such legislation serves only to proselytize and exclude people. This is unfair and discriminatory legislation that should be overturned.