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Opinion editorials by Katey LaFrance

as seen in the Liberal Opinion Week and other publications.
Member of the National Writer's Union.

Forced prayer would not prevent school killings"

   The first six years of a child's life are the most important for their development, not just physically, but mentally, and emotionally. It is a parent's responsibility to censor what their children are exposed to in the media. It is not the government's role, nor should the media's freedom of expression be curtailed. Parents simply cannot allow their children free access to anything and everything which is available on television, in the movies, in print, and on the Internet. Part of being a parent is setting boundaries for our children.

   We tell parents they have to have their child safely restrained in a car; we take their children away if they hit them or otherwise are negligent. We do not allow operation of a vehicle without a license obtained through testing and then, no one can drive a car without proper inspections and licensing. While I doubt that this country will ever embrace total eradication of guns, it is not unreasonable to expect the same rigorous requirements for owning one.

   Since the six year old's death in a school in Michigan, we have groups lobbying to force prayer into schools, claiming this would have prevented such an horrendous act of violence.

   The power of the spoken word is totally dependent upon the individual's belief in that power, even Jesus Christ taught this. He also taught if one turns their fate over to their god, letting go of their own forceful will, the outcome of their prayers may be entirely different from what is expected.

   Forcing others to pray in school would not prevent violence and killings. It is a naive belief that all would adhere to one homogenous interpretation of Christianity, let alone a gross assumption that all who attend American schools are even Christian.

   Again, it has to start at home. If parents want their children to have a spiritually based life, they must teach it to them at home; public schools are for secular education, not religious practices.

   It is a curious juxtaposition we see in conservative Christians campaigning to force prayer into our schools and vigorously defending their right to own guns. They and the NRA cannot continue down the rigid path of ownership at all costs....the cost of any child's life is too high! Adults in our country have proven they are not responsible in their gun ownership nor in their education of children about guns and the reality of their power.

   It is time for a major change in gun ownership laws in the United States. A change which values every child's life; a change which makes going to school safe and life-affirming; a change which brings into the 21st century and beyond, an enlightened age of evolution; an age when people do not stockpile weapons because of some delusional scenario of paranoia.

   One person's prayer may be another's oppression. The more parents take responsibility; the more we learn of other cultures, tolerance, and the positive outcomes of diversity; the sooner the fear, which is such a driving force behind gun ownership and violence, will become an outmoded mechanism of the past. When that day comes, then can we send up a "joyful noise" unto our individual "lord" and give thanks for the true safety of all.

ŠApril 5, 2000 OoBraughLoo Press All rights reserved