Letter: Why not pray at home?
Christians understand prayer as communication between believers and God. Since the God Lizarda Urena prays to is, according to Christian belief, all-seeing, all-knowing and ever-present everywhere, Urena’s prayers for peace and safety at Concord High are as effectively offered at home as on school steps.
Differences exist between home-based and school-based prayer, though. First, prayer on school property suggests school endorsement. As governmental entities, schools may not, under the First Amendment, endorse one religion over another, or support belief over non-belief. Second, public prayer is a way to testify to one’s Christianity, a form of evangelism as old as the faith. When conducted on school steps, evangelism appears endorsed by the school. Peace may not be what such public prayer achieves. Third, in the Gospel of Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus offers this advice about prayer: “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who is in secret will reward you.”
It boils down to intention. Why does Urena pray on school grounds? If she desires peace and safety at Concord High, she can pray at home. If she’s evangelizing, she’ll have to pray where she may be seen by others.
Rep. JANE J. HUNT