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Prayer at the pole
The sweet exercise of freedom: 'See You at the Pole' this Wednesday

Date published: 9/26/2006

Prayer at the pole

WHO CAN BLAME teachers and administrators for being confused about the proper relationship between religion and public schools? From "winter concerts" to "spring break," it seems safest just to ban issues of faith from the grounds. No risk of lawsuits or angry phone calls from parents--and just one problem: Outlawing expressions of faith is not constitutional.

Tomorrow's "See You at the Pole" event is a case in point. Begun in Burleson, Texas, in 1990, SYATP is a student-initiated movement that encourages kids to gather at the flagpole before the opening bell on the last Wednesday in September to pray for their friends, teachers, government, school, and nation. Over 3 million students participate annually nationwide.

SYATP has survived many challenges. As a student-led movement, it falls under the protection of the Constitution's free-speech and free-exercise clauses. The Rutherford Institute in Charlottesville has successfully defended the right of students to advertise the event on bulletin boards, distribute fliers, and invite youth pastors--and even the right of teachers to join in. John W. Whitehead, president of Rutherford, notes, "The rallies are part of a long tradition of free and equal participation in expressive activities guaranteed by our Constitution."

In some parts of the world, the free expression of ideas is met with murder or mayhem. This Wednesday, the sight of students gathered at school flagpoles to pray will remind us that freedom is, indeed, sweet.