How long

My entire life, I have been under the impression that the controversy over school prayer was something that happened in my life time. Since the Supreme Court ruling of the late 50's, religionists have been pounding the general population over this topic. They have used this ongoing issue to point out the slide of our god-fearing nation towards Atheism and Communism. However, this battle over religious freedom is older than my life.

Actually, it goes back to our founding fathers who quite specifically stated the need for a "wall" between the government and religion. Although the First Amendment calls for a separation of church and state; those who helped draft the constitution meant to put in place a permanent barrier between the two.

As have said, I thought that the conflict over prayer in school was a recent thing. However, I came across something in my readings that indicates that this has occurred before. Not only has it occurred before, but the Church-State separation edict has been upheld before.

The diary of Preston W. Gillette illustrates this conflict. He was a pioneer in the State of Oregon and writes in his diary on Tuesday April 9th, 1861, "A question arose, whether School should be opened by prayer. A few favored it, but a large majority opposed it." It - prayer in school - was voted down. Gillette goes on to write: "No little fanaticism & angry spirit was manifested." The vote however, stood. Since Communism wasn't yet invented I wonder who the zealots blamed for this social movement?

We, the people, have stood against these attempts to shove religion upon us for over two hundred years(and more). We must realize that those who wish to push their religion on us have fought against us for that same length of time. We must continue to stand and say:

"Believe what you want. It is not my truth and I will not let you make it so."

Michael Sherer


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