Skip to comments.President Ronald Reagan Radio Address to the Nation on Prayer in Schools
Posted on 03/28/2017 11:22:29 AM PDT by Jim Robinson
My fellow Americans:
From the early days of the colonies, prayer in school was practiced and revered as an important tradition. Indeed, for nearly 200 years of our nation's history, it was considered a natural expression of our religious freedom. But in 1962 the Supreme Court handed down a controversial decision prohibiting prayer in public schools.
Sometimes I can't help but feel the first amendment is being turned on its head. Because ask yourselves: Can it really be true that the first amendment can permit Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen to march on public property, advocate the extermination of people of the Jewish faith and the subjugation of blacks, while the same amendment forbids our children from saying a prayer in school?
When a group of students at the Guilderland High School in Albany, New York, sought to use an empty classroom for voluntary prayer meetings, the 2d Circuit of Appeals said, "No." The court thought it might be dangerous because students might be coerced into praying if they saw the football captain or student body president participating in prayer meetings.
Then there was the case of the kindergarten class reciting a verse before their milk and cookies. They said, "We thank you for the flowers so sweet. We thank you for the food we eat. We thank you for the birds that sing. We thank you, God, for everything." But a Federal court of appeals ordered them to stop. They were supposedly violating the Constitution of the United States.
Teddy Roosevelt told us, "The American people are slow to wrath, but when their wrath is once kindled it burns like a consuming flame." Up to 80 percent of the American people support voluntary prayer. They understand what the Founding Fathers intended. The first amendment of the Constitution was not written to protect the people from religion; that amendment was written to protect religion from government tyranny.
The amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What could be more clear?
The act that established our public school system called for public education to see that our children learned about religion and morality. References to God can be found in the Mayflower Compact of 1620, the Declaration of Independence, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem. Our legal tender states, "In God We Trust."
When the Constitution was being debated at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin rose to say: "The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see that God governs in the affairs of men. Without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel." He asked: "Have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?" Franklin then asked the Convention to begin its daily deliberations by asking for the assistance of Almighty God.
George Washington believed that religion was an essential pillar of a strong society. In his farewell address, he said, "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." And when John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, was asked in his dying hour if he had any farewell counsels to leave his children, Jay answered, "They have the Book."
But now we're told our children have no right to pray in school. Nonsense. The pendulum has swung too far toward intolerance against genuine religious freedom. It's time to redress the balance.
Former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart noted if religious exercises are held to be an impermissible activity in schools, religion is placed at an artificial and state-created disadvantage. Permission for such exercises for those who want them is necessary if the schools are truly to be neutral in the matter of religion. And a refusal to permit them is seen not as the realization of state neutrality, but rather as the establishment of a religion of secularism.
The Senate will soon vote on a constitutional amendment to permit voluntary vocal prayer in public schools. If two-thirds of the Senate approve, then we must convince the House leadership to permit a vote on the issue. I am confident that if the Congress passes our amendment this year, then the State legislatures will do likewise, and we'll be able to celebrate a great victory for our children.
Our amendment would ensure that no child be forced to recite a prayer. Indeed, it explicitly states this. Nor would the state be allowed to compose the words of any prayer. But the courts could not forbid our children from voluntary vocal prayer in their schools. And by reasserting their liberty of free religious expression, we will be helping our children understand the diversity of America's religious beliefs and practices.
If ever there was a time for you, the good people of this country, to make your voices heard, to make the mighty power of your will the decisive force in the halls of Congress, that time is now.
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.
Citation: Ronald Reagan: "Radio Address to the Nation on Prayer in Schools ," February 25, 1984.
Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
Btw, the Godless socialist liberals have turned our constitution inside out, backwards and upside down. It was designed and ratified by the representatives of the existing original 13 Christian states (all of them declared the fact that they were Christian in their original state constitutions) to protect themselves from tyranny from a new national government, by restricting that newly established federal government to only those powers actually enumerated and delegated to it by the new constitution. They reserved all other powers to their states and themselves. They further ratified the first amendment to guarantee that the new federal government could not dictate to the states and people regarding their God-given right to religious freedom. They had just rebelled from a tyrannical king for that very reason among others.
It is the federal government that is in violation of the first amendment, not the people or the states. The federal government is explicitly prohibited from taking these oppressive actions against the states, communities and people. We the people and our state and local governments were intended to be free to continue exercising our Christian religion and even public prayer and Christian celebration or holiday WITHOUT any federal interference, intrusion, infringement, abridgment, restriction or other form of tyranny. That said, as Christians, we do tolerate other religions. I think the founding generation would have rebelled again had they known their Christian religion would be the one NOT tolerated by government.
We were so blessed to have had him as president. He kept a file of quotes that he had gathered for nearly all his life. He didn’t have to depend on a speechwriter for ideas.
Why do we Christians allow no prayer in school (except Muslim prayer rooms) and remain silent?
President Reagan's study, and deep understanding of, both the Bible during his youth and the writings and speeches of the founding period as he matured, gave him the authority to articulate the ideas of liberty vs. the ideas of tyranny which elitist liberals/progressives have imposed upon the public square and the education of American youth for many decades.
An observation: although the current President may not possess that same Reagan depth of philosophical understanding of the founders' ideas, he seems to possess a visceral opposition to the consequences of our path away from those ideas.
If that is a valid observation, then his actions might be looked upon as carrying out Jefferson's words in the first and the final paragraph of his First Inaugural:
"It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our Government, and consequently those which ought to shape its Administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations.
(There follows a listing of those principles, and the last paragraph is quoted below):
These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages and blood of our heroes have been devoted to their attainment. They should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty, and safety."
Well, part of the problem is that the Constitution wasn’t penned for a secular milieu, which would take it differently than the sacred milieu of George Washington’s day would.
If the American republic cannot be kept holy, it can’t be kept in the form that was envisioned for it, period.
And the holiness has to come from a different source than governmental actions.
Anyhow wags assure us that prayer has never left schools as long as they have given tests.
But anyhow, what is the Christian thing to do in a mixed society. Here’s what I think the Lord put on my crazy mind. They shouldn’t be shy to pray consensually while not browbeating unbelievers about it. They should be displays to the unbelievers about why it is a good thing to pray. “And all God’s children said Amen.”
The Muslim prayer room practice, at least, ought to illustrate what would constitute a decent secular parity. Let’s have Christian prayer rooms too. Don’t press the unbelievers to go there any more than “infidels” are pressed to go to Muslim prayer rooms.
Consider... God never turned His back upon those who were actually following Him. So the issue is not only the Godless pagans, but the Christians ignoring what it requires to keep and maintain the promised blessings, when His children keep His Word.
Your post reminds me of a ‘warning’ Written by an ‘elected’ prophet Amos.
Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:
We are up to our eye balls in this famine.
If we are turn this nation around to its first principles, don’t look toward DC or the polling place. Too many errors have accumulated; they will accelerate into absolute despotism unless we reestablish adequate institutions.
Article V. All good things are possible upon repeal the 17th Amendment.
This is a mission too risky to entrust to anything but gospel.
Most of what is called Satanism here is play acts, is mere toying around with hell. Relatively penny-ante sin. If they actually met Old Scratch they’d poop their pajamas.
Actually, Christians getting sloppy at their posts is a worse problem than the lost sinners.
“If the salt lose its saltiness, with what shall it be made salty again?”
Christians who dim the light then complain about everybody stumbling all over should be ashamed of having done that.
(Sorry about the incomplete link, you'll want to put the title in the search bar after you connect with the site. Still, excellent information.) Great call, Jim
The problem is Because of Obama and Valerie Jarrett,we have become a more Muslim country.
So we will not be reciting the Lord’s prayer but the Shahada
Reagan also said:
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
That generation has come.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.