I grew up in Marin County in the Seventies–a land of spiritual rebels at the height of a free-love bender, so when I went into public education I knew how clearly drawn the line was between church and state. So have to ask myself daily about praying in the classroom. I have learned that in order to maintain the privilege of ministering to my students, I cannot preach to them.
I am actually relieved that teachers cannot preach in class. Of course, it grieves me not to be able to prescribe the cure of Jesus when I see my students suffering in ways that can only be healed by the Lord, but I do not want to open the floodgates to allow the preaching of a multitude of “little-g” gospels or ear-tickling pseudo-religions.
Many parents lament and reflect that the teaching of various social gospels already takes place. I concede that often it does, but it is this very fact that strengthens my resolve to stay in the public school system. I do not blame parents for choosing to home-school or enroll their kids in private schools; I know that their circumstances are often dire, their convictions are sincere, and their sacrifices are heroic. However, I remain a strong champion of the public schools. We cannot abandon such a valuable institution as the public schools into the hands of the enemy. God will only be ousted from the schools if all the believers leave.
I “smuggle” Jesus into class with me every day–in my heart. Yes, audible prayers may have been outlawed, but no one can silence prayers offered up in the heart and mind of Christ’s followers. The verbal preaching of the Gospel might be banned, but a Christian’s actions and attitudes often speak more loudly and authentically than words.
The Joy of the Lord comes into the room with me; we laugh a lot in my class. As a teacher, I make many mistakes, so, believe me, there are many opportunities to model humility. My desire to protect my kids from a world so toxic toward children guides my decisions regarding what to teach and how to teach it.
People in the community know that I am a Christian, and I know that many people have watched me as I have weathered life’s trials. God has allowed me to give my testimony to people who want to know. I just make sure that the school bell has rung. From 8:15 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, I render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and the rest of the time I render unto God what is God’s (Matthew 22:21).
Cheer up, fellow Christians! God cannot be legislated out of the schools because He cannot be legislated out of our hearts. He said that He would always be with us, and no human law can override God’s promise. If neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons… nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God (Romans 6:38-39), certainly public school can’t.