In Cranston, RI there is a lawsuit about a mural depicting a school-sanctioned prayer. The image of the mural is here:
The student was offended by having this prayer here, and some Christians I have spoken to say it’s not a big deal, it’s a historical object, it’s message is a nice academic one, etc… Further, they claim that a student being offended by it isn’t enough reason to remove it. Some students are offended by evolution in biology class, and we don’t remove that, for example. However, the Establishment Clause of the Constitution clearly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion”. Christians will point to this mural and state that it is generically religious, and thus is not the establishment of any particular religion.
When I first read this mural, I was immediately offended by it, as a message in a public institution educating children. It establishes a clear bias towards the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) by referring to “Heavenly Father”. Buddhism doesn’t have this, neither does Hinduism, or Paganism, or etc…. not to mention atheists. The message itself is actually very nice, so why not do the easiest thing: Block out, in as unobtrusive way possible, the “Heavenly father” and the “Amen”, and simply call it the School Doctrine, or School Message, or some other innocuous phrase. Even calling it a prayer is not so bad in my book, as long as there isn’t a clear bias towards a particular religion. I wonder if the student tried to do that. It would seem to be a straightforward solution, that a school system might consider, in order to keep itself out of a lawsuit on the issue.