Watchman in the Wall: To pray or not to pray


Specialty Research Associates under the direction of David Barton released a 100 page document entitled “To Pray Or Not to Pray,” full of graphs and stats to prove that drug use, crime, venereal disease, public corruption, premarital sex, suicide, and illiteracy had a dramatic increase after the 1962 Engel vs Vitale Supreme Court decision banning of prayer from public schools. 

Before 1962, daily prayer was common in public schools in various forms. Teachers would recite Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . .) or The Lord’s Prayer (Our Father Who Art In Heaven). New York students prayed, “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers, and our nation.”  My teachers in North Highlands Fruitvale Elementary asked for three minutes of silence to be respectful of those who wanted to pray. Right after saying the Pledge of Allegiance, we sat down, bowed our heads, closed our eyes and were quiet. That’s when I learned that people of all different faiths were in my class. I didn’t attend church at the time, others were Catholics, various Protestant faiths, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. We learned to respect others’ opinions. Those of us who had no particular faith were taught to respect those who did. 

Right after 1962 banning of prayer, SAT scores dramatically dropped at an accelerated rate until 1982 when there was a popular increase in students attending Christian schools. Again and again stats have shown that students who attend Christian schools have higher scores in SAT and overall academics. 

There was an abrupt and dramatic increase in teen pregnancies and sexual activity. After Roe vs Wade, the United States soared to number one with the highest percentage of teen-age motherhood of all Western countries. 

Stability of the home has deteriorated since prayer was removed from school. The rate of youth suicide has jumped 253%. Divorce, single parent families, couples living together without being married (known as fornication) and adultery have skyrocketed. 

Crime has risen and national productivity and morality have plummeted. Violent crime has increased 330%. 

Could it be that millions of children throughout the United States, praying on a daily basis held back the hand of evil and immorality, blessed our nation, their schools, teachers and families? 

When I began to teach, the disrespect, vulgarity, and sexual immorality was blatant. Three of us started meeting every Friday to pray for the school, teachers and students. After summer break, eight teachers had left, all the morally lenient teachers who didn’t care what the students did. By the end of the next year, at least 10 teachers were meeting for prayer and lunch. We upheld each other, prayed for the students and faculty, became a cohesive group and watched the school increasingly improve. 

I am grateful for a President who has championed our right to pray as Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists. Take a stand and pray before our freedom of speech is taken away!  

■ Loraine Joy is a small business owner and Arbuckle resident. Contact Loraine at