When one door closes…

Nicole Daughhetee

Nicole Daughhetee

Life As I Know It

By Nicole Daughhetee

During the January SDPC Board meeting, when the issue of removing student-led prayer prior to the meetings was first approached publically, hundreds of people turned out in a show of support for maintaining the current policy.

Apparently there were so many people that I was upbraided by a concerned citizen for not properly “guesstimating” the number.

The February meeting drew another large crowd — still in the hundreds — of people who came to speak and support the district’s then-current student-led invocation policy. Standing-room-only is how I would describe the scene in the board room that night.

Fast forward to Monday night’s meeting, where the public outpouring from prior meetings had waned significantly. Frankly, I found myself looking around the room feeling incredibly disappointed.

While I am in no way lending my support to the board’s decision (or throwing my weight against it for that matter), I can also understand the perspective of some of the members seated in the decision-making chairs. The public has asked them to take a stand and fight for God, fight for their rights to have students lead prayers prior to the meetings, fight in a court of law, the cost of which is bound to be substantial, yet it would seem, by the lack of attendance last night, that the public had given up without a fight and thrown in the towel because things didn’t appear to be going their way.

There were people at Monday night’s meeting who have consistently attended and spoken out at previous meetings, but that number was much smaller than I anticipated it would be. As much as it pains me to say it, the majority of the public cannot cry foul at the board when they did not see their fight through to its conclusion. To do so would be, truthfully, hypocritical.

In a 3-2-1 vote, the SDPC Board of Trustees voted to adopt a policy under which rotating board members will lead non-sectarian prayers prior to the school board meeting.

This decision was a crushing defeat for those fighting in support of maintaining student-led prayer. However, I and many others believe that for every door the Lord closes, another one is opened. Consider this: future SDPC Board meeting agendas were also altered so that the citizen input section immediately follows executive session.

Public citizens have the freedom and the right to sign up to speak before the board and to utilize that time to offer a word of prayer. Students are public citizens, are they not? There is no reason that the students couldn’t take it upon themselves to organize a rotating schedule that enables those who feel so moved to attend SDPC board meetings, sign up to speak during the time allotted for citizen input, and use that time to offer a word of prayer.

Freedom of speech and religion are their rights under the Constitution.

Many people might feel as though the battle has been lost, but this doesn’t mean the public has lost the war. It is up to the public — those who were vocal about taking a stand for God and prayer — to “put their money where their mouths are,” so to speak.

The door on the student-led prayer policy might have been slammed shut on Monday, but in His infinite wisdom, I’m thinking God very cleverly opened another door through which the people can walk and stand for Him and prayer.

I wonder how many people will continue to stand and fight. By the looks of the many empty seats at last night’s meeting, I remain curious to find out.