Mark Caserta is a businessman and resident of Cabell County (WV) who regularly writes opinion pieces in the local Herald-Dispatch. His most recent was published today, and expresses strongly his belief that the removal of government sponsored prayer in public schools has lead to the downfall of our country.
"On June 25, 1962, America was changed forever when our judicial branch of government forbade school children from doing what they had been doing since the founding of our nation: giving thanks to our Lord God.
The needs of a godless few outweighed the needs of many as the future of our children was skewed by the highest court in the land, which ineptly chose to make law rather than to interpret it."
"The needs of a godless few..." That's too simple, Caserta. And it's wrong.
Just ask Ricky.
Ricky was an elementary school classmate of mine. In first and second grade Ricky and I played basketball together, chased girls and traded lunches when our mom's packed us a sandwich we hated. Ricky was a good kid; he was pretty quiet, but still funny. I remember him having a really wicked sense of humor. He was also a Jehovah's Witness.
In a class of thirty kids who weren't.
As a Witness, Ricky was forbidden to say the Pledge of Allegiance, participate in birthday parties or celebrate holidays. So every morning as the rest of us WASPish kids recited a pledge we didn't understand, Ricky sat in his seat with his head down. When parties were scheduled, Ricky sat on a chair in the hallway until the festivities ended. Afterwards--in fact, as quickly as the next recess--the boys in the class would corner Ricky on the playground and beat his ass. Hard.
Because he was different.
My friendship with Ricky shaped my life. I recognized early the power of the majority. I also realized how tough even subtle cultural difference can be on a kid who doesn't fit in with that majority. Ricky wasn't one of the "godless few" that Caserta is talking about. In fact, he and his family were seriously religious. It was members of the god-ful majority, after all, who were handing out the ass kickings on most days of the week.
There's a lot wrong with our society today. Caserta and I agree completely on that. But reciting some verses in the classroom each morning won't cure the complicated, multi-layered problems that has America struggling.
It's just not that simple.