Professor of Education

University of Tennessee, Knoxville

“Put prayer and Bible reading back in public schools” is a cry often heard today.

Various reasons are given for wanting to put “God back in the classroom.” Some people claim many children who do not attend church receive no religious instruction at home and, unless it is done at school, they will suffer. There is a linking of the increase in crime to the lack of prayers and Bible reading at school. There is the claim that children will not relate religion to everyday life unless schools include these activities. And there is fear which comes because many young people are joining such groups as the Hare Krishna and the Unification Church (Moonies).

Efforts thus are made to remove the jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court over religious activities in public schools.

This raises an interesting proposition.

Suppose God is using the Supreme Court—with its rulings against school prayers—as an instrument to test the commitment of those people who claim the name of Christian.

Perhaps God is finding out which of his people are willing to be involved in his work and which are lukewarm, leaving this work to others. Perhaps, in the words of a hymn, Christians are being tested to find out” Are Ye Able?”

Faint-hearted Christians would do well to reread the Great Commission Jesus gave to his disciples. He told them to go to all people everywhere to make disciples and to teach them to obey all Jesus taught.

The disciples were told to be active, to get to work. They were not to be superficial in their approach—read a few verses, say a bland prayer, and hope something would happen. They were to teach. They were not told to have the government do the teaching to a captive audience. The disciples ...

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