Re: “Trump portrays himself as defender of faith for evangelicals” [Jan. 2, seattletimes.com]:
President Donald Trump said, “I’ll be taking action to safeguard student and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools.” In 1962, mandated school prayer was declared unconstitutional. Yet the movement to mandate prayer in public schools has resurfaced. The debate is often focused on rights. I believe it to be a matter of hospitality.
Hospitality is creating space where everyone feels welcome. Children learn best in an environment where they feel welcome no matter what their religion, or if they come from a nonreligious or anti-religion family. A public-school classroom that affirms a religious norm like prayer or a strong anti-religious point of view does not provide hospitality to all its students.
My concern for hospitality is reflected in Presbyterian Church U.S.A. resolution, “Loving Our Neighbors: Equity and Quality in Public Education.” The policy’s foundation is Jesus’ words to “love the neighbor” and states, “any attempt to use public education to teach one particular religious worldview is a failure to love and respect the neighbor who has a different religious viewpoint or who has rejected any religious viewpoint.”
Caring about children in a nation with religious diversity means extending hospitality in our schools.
The Rev. Dave Brown, Tacoma, Pacific Northwest Interfaith Amigos