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Why is This So Offensive?

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2012 Feb 01

Posted by Jim_Daly Jan 31, 2012




Since 1963 a mural that contains a very brief school prayer has been hanging in the gymnasium of Rhode Island’s Cranston High School.

Prior to the Supreme Court ruling in 1962 that banned official school prayer, students recited it each day. The next year’s graduating class presented the mural as a gift to the school, and there it has hung for nearly 50 years. 

That is until a student complained about it and suggested its presence was unconstitutional. A federal district court agreed and ordered it to be removed.

Here is the prayer:

Our Heavenly Father,

Grant us each day the desire to do our best,

To grow mentally and morally as well as physically,

To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers,

To be honest with ourselves as well as with others,

Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win,

Teach us the value of true friendship,

Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School.


Even the most devout secularist wouldn’t disagree with the value of the prayer’s sentiments, would they?

It’s always been curious to me why something like this is considered unconstitutional yet each session of Congress is opened with prayer.

As an example, here’s the opening prayer that was offered just a few days ago, on January 27, by the Reverend Dr. Alan Keiran, right in the well of the United States Senate:

Lord, we honor You today in prayer and thanksgiving. We pray for the Members of this House, their families and staffs. Grant them peace that passes all understanding and amazing grace to sustain them when days are long and rest is short.

Father, You are our refuge and fortress. You provide everything we need for life and godliness. You hear our ardent intercession, and smile when we raise our voices in praise and worship. We thank You for Your presence, love and grace.

It is in Your mighty Name I pray. Amen.

What a wonderful, appropriate and heartfelt petition to the Lord. Thank you, Dr. Keiran.

That a double standard exists is a given, and an unfortunate one at that.

But what is a parent to do?

In short, don’t give up!

The primacy of the First Amendment should ensure that a “heckler’s veto” cannot be used as a means to cleanse a public school from any reference to religion. In this instance, the mural was a piece of school history. Why should it be removed now? It’s been left undisturbed for nearly a half century. From my perspective, for a court to uphold its removal is an abuse of power and a most unfortunate turn of events.


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