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Church State Issues

School-board prayer: A solution in search of a problem

Feb 1, 2014

Arizona Republic

Remember when school boards spent most of their time talking about issues directly related to students’ academic success?

Yeah, that’s no longer the case. At least, not at Gilbert Public Schools, where a majority of the school board wants to weigh in on issues that aren’t necessarily about education.

Hence, their latest effort to reinstate prayer before school-board meetings.

Let’s be real: This is hardly a pressing issue. It’s not like clergy are picketing public meetings asking for the right to pray (though a few people spurred by the socially conservative Gilbert Watch blog spoke in favor of prayer at the meeting). And it doesn’t matter that the decision likely will bring about a legal challenge — something else the cash-strapped district will have to pay for instead of funneling the money into classrooms.

This was about about making a statement: We won’t bow to those who would make us politically correct. It’s a matter of principle.

By the way, I’m not against prayer before public meetings. Cities offer invocations all the time, though I must confess that most times, council members treat it more like a chore than a privilege. Which sort of ruins the experience.

I also have often thought that if anyone ever wanted to sue boards over prayer time, they’d probably win in court.

That’s not the point. What disturbs me most is that Gilbert’s education leaders seem hell-bent on activism, regardless of the consequences that activism may wreak on the district.