The constitutional amendment that would allow prayers in schools is in the Senate, where the Courts of Justice Committee is expected to take up the measure Monday. Problem is, prayers are already allowed in schools, even praying out loud, if you don’t disturb others. So what’s the point of this amendment. Only to propagate the notion that this country has become anti-Christian.

Delegate Charles W. Carrico Sr. said the amendment is needed because there is a growing effort to silence Christians.

“I think the American people and the courts have been saying that the wall in the separation of church and state has gone too far, and it’s suppressed — I’d even say oppressed — the Christian faith and silenced it,” he said.

“You shouldn’t have to check your deeply held beliefs at the door of the courthouse, at the door of the Statehouse or at the door of the schoolhouse,” said Delegate Bill Janis, Goochland Republican.

… Another supporter is Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William). “There is now a poisoned environment for religious expression that the founders never, never desired,” said Lingamfelter, who voted for the proposal.

No one is suppressing the Christian faith. There’s not a “poisoned environment.” No one says you can’t pray as long as you don’t do it with tax money, which is what you’re ding if you try to push your faith on other people at schools and during other public meetings. With the minute of silence, we already allow people time to pray in schools. What are we to do, stop lessons when somebody says they want to pray out loud during class?

Can you imagine what Carrico or Janis would say if school allowed fundamentalist Muslims to push their idea of a Holy War in our classrooms?

The main problem with such legislation is that it doesn’t address the question of who is to determine when and what prayer is allowed.

The idea that Christianity is “under attack” serves the right’s purpose of making Christianity the national religion and the basis for our form of government.

The Rev. C. Douglas Smith, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, said the amendment is not a “prayer issue or religious issue,” and said he believes it is unconstitutional. “There is no question in anyone’s mind there are volumes of case law that would render this null and void immediately,” Mr. Smith said. “It puts at risk the constitution’s hundreds of years of history which have sought to protect religious freedoms.”

Debra Gold Linick, assistant director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, opposes the measure because she worries her 6-year-old daughter, Rebecca, will one day have religious views imposed upon her in the classroom.

“We don’t need prayer in schools during instructional time,” Ms. Linick, a Fairfax County resident, said yesterday. “We don’t send our kids to public schools to get a religious education.”

I failed to see how claiming there is call to “silence” Christians is anyway different from the red-baiting days of Joe McCarthy. I soon expect hearings where somebody is going to ask a witness, “Are you a Christian?” with there being only one right answer.

UPDATE: After posting, I found this article addressing the constitutionality of taking school time for prayer, which includes the controversy in Staunton that I neglected to mention. Thanks to Bacon’s Rebellion for the reference.