In South Carolina's ongoing political game show, Who's the Best Christian, Wendell Gilliard and a bunch of other Democrats have struck a blow against the rabid faux-religious right-wing. They have co-sponsored a bill -- yet again -- that would require a moment of prayer each morning in the public schools. Now, not that I'm saying it's sneaky or deceitful, but Mr. Gilliard contends that 1) it is really a moment of silence which a teacher could turn into a moment of prayer (giving our teachers autonomy they never imagined they could have), and he magnanimously adds that 2) any child who doesn't want to pray can just get up and leave the room.
This is a scenario that allows for so very many possibilities:
-- A teacher of the Jewish faith could lead a prayer in Hebrew.
-- A child being raised in the Muslim faith could bring in a prayer mat, set it up pointing toward Mecca, and do his thing.
-- Those children raised by heathens like myself can go on ahead and do whatever ritual they like, maybe have a snack or read a good book.
Here's another whole quandary: what to do with the kids that up and leave? Do they go sit in a detention-like room for a minute and then return to their classrooms? Who counts down the minute? Or do they mill around in the hallways while the armed guards we've legislated into the schools watch over them?
And if kids start opting out of prayer, will there end up being a stampede? Will Wendell be shocked to find out that, given a choice, kids would rather hang out than pray? Will teachers opt out?
The fact is, it's easier to legislate things like prayer and armed guards in schools than improve schools and pay for quality education. Here in South Carolina, our legislators would rather pray for a good education than do what it takes to make it happen.