What Does Ryan Walters Have Against Religious Freedom?
At what sounds like a chaotic State Board of Education meeting on Thursday (I wasn’t there, but there was plenty of reaction to watch and read afterwards), a group with the letterhead “God in Public Schools” sent a letter to Ryan Walters requesting that “you take every action possible to allow corporate prayer and expression of faith in God back in our public school system.” (kfor.com/news/local/walters-recommends-oklahoma-schools-require-minute-of-prayer-and-reflection/)
Walters wants to implement their request of a minute of silence for prayer, meditation, or reflection.
The full recommendations in the letter include:
- A full minute of silence for prayer, meditation, or reflection
- Requiring each classroom of each school in Oklahoma school districts publicly display a copy of the Ten Commandments
- Require a Western Civilization course focused on fostering gratitude towards “the heritage which was integral to the nation’s founding and its western culture.”
Besides being unconstitutional, it sounds a lot like indoctrination to me. No one is stopping any student from saying a silent prayer at school. I’m sure I made many deals with God over those chemistry tests. Kids can take a minute to meditate as well. And I have no doubt that many assistant principals have requested that a student spend some time reflecting on breaking a school rule or two.
So, what is this really about? If you read recommendations 2 and 3, it’s pretty obvious that the request is about indoctrinating impressionable minds into a certain brand of Christianity that Walters and the six men who signed the letter want. Those men are Wade Burleson, president, Istoria; Bob Linn, president, OCPAC Foundation; Jesse Leon Rodgers, president, City Elders; Dr. Howard Hatcher, president, Ministers Network, Inc.; Jackson Lahmeyer, pastor, Sheridan Church; Mike Biggs, pastor, Christ the King Presbyterian (PCA).
If these men and Walters want to follow their religious faith – great! They should. But do it in private with their own families. America’s founding fathers were pretty clear about state sponsored religion – THEY DID NOT WANT IT. They wanted all people to be able to have religious freedom. If one religion – in this case, Walters’ version – is used to indoctrinate students in public schools, then we no longer have freedom of religion.
Voters have already rejected SQ 790, a bill that would have allowed public dollars and property to be used for support of religion, so recommendations 2 and 3 may be difficult to force public schools to follow. Oklahomans can’t be fooled that easily.
They know that in order to have fair and equal treatment to practice whatever religion or lack of religion they want, then the state must remain secular. Oklahomans want to live and believe as they choose. Parents want to raise their children according to their family’s values, not Ryan Walters’ values or Pastor Lahmeyer or Pastor Biggs or any other preacher, Imam, witch, Satanic leader, priest or rabbi.
It is every American’s right, and every schoolchild’s right, to practice any religion or to not practice any religion, according to what they believe.
I hope we don’t allow Ryan Walters to snatch away our religious freedom. It chips away at the very foundation of our great nation.
How do you feel about religion being forced on your children in public school?