Rick Perry, desperate to get some attention from Republican voters who are primarily motivated by their religious beliefs, has proposed an amendment to the Constitution to protect the rights of religious Americans. The amendment would protect the right of public students to pray. “I would support a constitutional amendment that would allow our children to pray in school any time that they would like.”
Public school students already have the right to pray whenever they want to, to whatever deity they want to, however they want to. That’s already provided for by the First Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for freedom of religion.
No one has banned students from praying in public schools.
Public school students do not, however, have a right to force other students to pray. They also do not have a right to get the official endorsement for their prayers from the local governments that run their schools. What Rick Perry calls a “ban on prayer” is not actually a ban on prayer. It’s merely a lack of government-organized and sanctioned prayer.
Rick Perry seems to think that school children need local governments to teach them how to pray. A more reasonable approach is what’s already taking place: Public schools allow students to decide to pray on their own if they want to. If students don’t want to pray to any divine beings, then they don’t have to opt out of some centralized government prayer bureaucracy. They simply don’t make the the individual decision to pray.
Adults get to choose whether they belong to a prayer-centered religion. Why should students be directed into a prayer religion by the government?