Why do we pray in public? When and where is public prayer inappropriate? Are there too many restrictions on public prayer? Too few?
I understand restrictions on public prayer animated by sensitivities that arise out of religious diversity. If I were called upon to pray before an inter-faith gathering, I would certainly keep my prayer denominationally neutral.
That said, I worry about the 1962 High Court’s ruling that restrains the use of official school prayer, even if it were denominationally neutral with no pressure brought to bear upon students who choose not to participate.
My discomfort with such a restriction is for its own potential to imbue students with a partisan point of view with unintended consequences. Doesn’t the imposed absence of official school prayer in the formation of students’ lives infer the absence of God? And is it not in the seeming absence of a Sovereign God that people with power are more inclined to play God? And isn’t the landscape of history strewn with human wreckage for mere mortals acting like they’re immortal?
Why do we pray in public? In my view, we need to because to so pray distinguishes the Creator from the creature before the body politic. And such a distinction, when it’s pronounced, keeps at bay the ruinous human inclination to play God.