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Prayer in school debate 'heated'

Jan. 31, 2001

Professor claims current system is fair to everybody

By BJ GOERGEN

Staff writer

The role of religion and faith in America's culture sparked a heated debate Tuesday night.

The debate, sponsored by the Young Conservatives of Texas, was held in the Barfield Drawing Room before a crowd of nearly 150 students.

'I am asking you to do a gut check against your basic concepts of freedom,' said State Rep. Rick Green (R-Dripping Springs). Green told students that he disagreed with the Supreme Court's decision to outlaw prayer in public schools.

'The courts have handed down this decision based upon a faulty understanding of the separation of church and state,' Green said. He argued that even ceremonial prayers are important to students because they express freedom of religion and recognize that there is a Creator.

However, Dr. Derek Davis, director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies, disputed Green's viewpoints. Davis frequently gives testimonies on protecting religious liberties to institutions across America.

'Right now, we have a system that is fair to everybody,' Davis said. 'The Founding Fathers saw the problems when religion was a part of government.'

Davis also said he believes that students have plenty of time to practice their religion without offending others.

'Students can pray before or after school,' Davis said. 'But they don't have to pray at a football game to express their religious freedom.'

Green countered by saying that religion is the moral foundation of American culture.

He said that at one time, American schools required two textbooks. One of the books was the Bible, Green said.

'The government cannot endorse or promote any one religion,' Davis said. He described the court's decision to remove prayer from schools as a sign of tolerance for the other religions in America.

The debate challenged the opinion of at least one student.

'I thought I was for school prayer before tonight,' Crystal White, a Rockwall sophomore, said. 'But America has become a melting pot, and our country has changed.'

The debate, sponsored by the Young Conservatives of Texas, was held in the Barfield Drawing Room before a crowd of nearly 150 students.

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