This morning marks the 20th annual "See You At The Pole" event, which is meant to be a nationwide call for Christian students to meet outside on their school grounds for a short prayer service.Â The people who run the event guess that about one million to two million students will participate this year.
According to the See You At The Pole website, "See You at the Poleâ„¢ is simply a prayer rally where students meet at the school flagpole before school to lift up their friends, families, teachers, school, and nation to God. See You at the Poleâ„¢ is a student-initiated, student-organized, and student-led event."
It would be wrong for any general assembly of students at a publicly funded school to be led in any sort of prayer, but it sounds like See You At The Pole is an event that both supporters and opponents of "school prayer" can rest easy with.Â It falls completely within the spirit of the First Amendment: students are allowed their Free Exercise of religion, yet none of the publicly-funded schools (let's hope) are funding or helping to organize these events, so there is no Establishment of religion by the state happening here.
Religion forms the foundation of many people's lives, and that includes many students, of course.Â No one should be prevented from communing with others to pray in the way they see fit outside of scheduled class time.Â It's only when school administrators or teachers begin leading prayers or dictating beliefs to their students that we should all be concerned about the separation of church and state.Â See You At The Pole is a great example of how prayer activity can exist in a public school setting, without violating the spirit or the letter of the First Amendment.