Schools are inherently religious. Education, by its nature, is grounded in the propagation of ideology, and that is the essence of religion and speech. Since that is the case, there is always an inherent struggle within a pluralistic system of education to decide which religion will rule the school house. As long as education is centralized, some one ideology (some religion) will have to come out on top while others are suppressed. Freedom of speech and religion, by their very nature, cannot exist in a government-funded school; government-funded schools, by their very nature, are religious propagation by force.
So, we have a conflict here: Christianity is in a numerical decline. I say that we're going downhill because we keep sending Christian children into a public school system where atheism has won the pluralistic dog-pile. Christian leaders tend to agree the Christian numbers are declining at least in part because of government schools, but they often argue that we should be "salt and light" that "reforms" the government schools. The hope, evidently, is that we might just somehow infiltrate the atheist school system and turn it Christian. Maybe the atheists have cornered public education today, but many hope we can have it back tomorrow.
I can see, to some degree, why pastors want to push prayer in schools. Christians ought to be able to pray wherever they want, and they shouldn’t ever have to shed their faith for their work or in the public sphere. But trying to "take back" the public schools, co-opting them as "mission fields" is just the wrong fight. For Christians to take money by force in a tax and then use that money to teach our ideals in the schoolhouse is no better than mandating a forced tithe to a church, and if we expect to take over public schools for the sake of Christianity, we can hardly complain if the schools are one day taken over in the name of Islam, or Hinduism, or any other religion we'd prefer not to support by force (Secularism included). I don't want to support that with my tax dollars, and for that reason, publicly funded prayer in government-funded schools just doesn’t work.
Besides, a minister who needs government workers to do his evangelism for him is a minister who needs to find a different line of work.
So, it turns out that winning the schools is a losing strategy, and I'd like to give you a perfect historical reference - relevant to my own story - demonstrating why.
As you recall, I was arrested in August of 2014 for publicly decrying church endorsement of public education in Hall County, Georgia. Four months later, the churches and government bureaucrats of Hall County (who never take my advice) were made to look quite foolish for failing to heed my warnings. In December 2014, while I was in hiding but still paying close attention to the news, the American Humanist Association sued Hall County Schools over coaches praying at football games. It was exactly the kind of thing I had been trying to warn them about, and which clueless pseudo-pastors like Jason Berry were encouraging.
Praying in school just isn’t the answer. The solution, as I’ve noted before, isn’t to “save” the schools. It’s to abandon them for greener pastures. No one has to shed his faith at the schoolhouse doors if he has the option to engage with a private Christian school or homeschool. We don't have to put everyone's money into a giant pot and then fight over who gets to use it to propagate their ideology. We can avoid the unneccesary conflict altogether by just keeping our own money and using it to teach our own ideologies. Incidentally, Christianity - the majority religion - would win in that arena.
But does anyone listen to Justin Freeman? Of course not. I tried to warn you people.
The AHA ultimately settled the lawsuit out of court in 2015 for $22,500 in legal fees. It was paid out by the school's insurance, which, of course, is funded by taxpayers. So ultimately, this was money taken straight from the pockets of citizens like me. Hall County also agreed to conduct "professional training" with their teachers – costing us more money – and of course I have no easy way to tabulate just how many dollars were expended by Hall County's own lawyers. I’d suppose that if Hall County’s legal costs were anything like those of the AHA, the whole ordeal cost about $50,000, and it's money they could have saved.
I think we should also remember that the school teachers and the county don’t even care when they waste that kind of money. It’s not their money after all. It's money they stole from you. No teachers were fired. My guess is that no teachers resigned, that none of them will pay attention to the sensitivity training, and that school districts across the country won’t pay much attention to the outcome. In short, you, the taxpayers, are suffering for this bad strategy, and the people who are actually responsible for it (the government bureaucrats and the tax-exempt churches that refuse to keep them straight) suffer no direct consequences.
And let’s not forget, that's $22,500 that went to strengthening anti-Christian lawyers. Ironically, fighting a crusade to save the school system means that Christians are literally financing their opponents and making their problem worse. Winning government schools is a losing strategy and it’s why Christianity has been losing for the last 50 years.
But hey, the church leaders don't care if they're losing and they don't care if innocent bystanders like us get hurt. They think they're fighting a Holy war, when really they’re just neglecting to do what the Bible would have them to do – raise their own kids in the truth without depending on government employees to do it for them.
Another lawsuit just like this one is coming soon to a county near you.