On The Riley

The Manhattan Free Press

By Jon A. Brake

For years schools across this nation started each day much in the same way: the Pledge of Allegiance, a short prayer, the singing of "America or the "Star-Spangled Banner."

The New York State Board of Regents went one step farther. They had their staff prepared a "non-denominational" prayer for use in the public schools, trying to avoid anything that might offend one particular religious group or another.

Here is the prayer:

"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country."

When the delegates of 1787 drafted the Constitution of the United States they set up three branches of government: the executive branch, a representative legislature, and a judiciary.

It gave the legislature the power to make law. The Judiciary was to "interpret" the law. Several Supreme Courts (like the 1963 Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren) have used the Court to make law.

The delegates to the Constitution Convention knew what they wanted in a government. They wanted a government that had limits. They wanted a government that guaranteed rights to the people. They had just fought the Revolutionary War to get away from a government that did just the opposite. England had formed it's own Church and told people what religion they would follow.

The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;"

The delegates to the Convention could not see that someday the judiciary would implement law from the bench.

The 1963 decision did what the First Amendment said Congress could not do. They are prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Freedom of Religion means freedom in the heart, the head, the home and the school. No, we do not need teachers teaching religion, but it is OK for religion to be in schools.

"God Bless America" is not a reason to go to court.