Our Heavenly Father. Grant us each day the desire to do our best. To grow mentally and morally as well as physically. To be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers. To be honest with ourselves as well as with others. Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Teach us the value of true friendship. Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. Amen.
Words recently covered up at the aforementioned high school (in Rhode Island), by court order, on account of a suit filed by Jessica Ahlquist, an articulate 16-year-old atheist and student there. The words had hung in the school for forty years unchallenged, if not unquestioned (don’t teenagers question everything?) But young Ahlquist believed the words constituted a prayer and violated the separation of church and state. What if the final word were removed? And if “Our Heavenly Father” were to be replaced by “Dear Teacher” or even “Dear Day”? Innocuous? No one knows, nor will. From both intractable sides, insults and indignation make a mockery of the sentiment, obscuring it behind a cloak of righteousness more opaque than any court could order.