I HAVE FRIENDS I love who believe in God and those who do not. And that’s alright with me.
I have moderate views on most political topics. I also know that I shouldn’t touch this subject with a 10-foot pole, but...
I applaud my city’s Board of Education for keeping the tradition of reading a prayer before the meetings start. The practice will continue into the new school year, according to the board’s President Heather Raymond.
So what’s the big deal?
The Freedom From Religion Foundation has once again written to Nashua’s Board of Education to ask them to discontinue reading the prayer. The Madison, Wis.-based nonprofit organization believes “prayer at school board meetings represents an unconstitutional endorsement of religion under the Establishment Clause (of the First Amendment).”
OK, then why during the presidential swearing-in do most Presidents end the oath with “so help me God.” George Washington began the tradition, according to an item by Constitution Daily.
“In God We Trust”: This phrase is found on all U.S. money and coins.
Call me old-school, but I grew up “bowing my head for a moment of silent meditation” with my classmates and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public school. It was how we were brought up. It was respectful to our country, servicemen and servicewomen and the flag. And I don’t believe that bowing my head or mentioning God in either tradition ever hurt anyone.
I remember seeing some students not place their hand over their heart during big assemblies in the school gym. I recall some upper-class students sitting it out when we stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. That’s OK, and I believe they have that right, but most of us followed suit.
School board member Dotty Oden made a good point. “The aldermen start their meetings with a prayer — our Congress, our Senate, they even have a clergy person there.”
Raymond Guarino, another board of education member, took this perspective. “I don’t want people to get the idea that they have to participate. It is a voluntary thing.”
I would agree.
The school board voted 7-0, to continue with the prayer reading at the start of each full board meeting. President Raymond abstained.
Years ago, in front of City Hall Plaza, sat a creche every Christmas. As a child, I thought it was beautiful with a spotlight on baby Jesus in the manger.
I would marvel at it as we went with my mom to pick up my dad from the old Nashua Telegraph building on Main Street. Our station wagon would pass the creche as we continued our 10-minute drive home.
Back then, newspapers freely celebrated these kinds of images. Longtime Nashua Telegraph senior staff writer Dean Shalhoup would remember. His late father Mike, who held several positions at the paper, was an incredible photographer.
Not only did he capture the quiet contemplation of the Nativity scene but created striking photo illustrations for the front page during holidays and prominent days.
There was power in those images, and I remember them even now.