I have noticed that people have increased the call to withdraw prayers from school. One writer argued that prayers should also be removed from “meetings of the DRC, CDNs and municipalities, and more so, meetings of the National Assembly (where even the slightest divine quality is ever seen)”. It could be argued that the places mentioned deserve real prayers as often as possible.
I cannot and never would allow prayers to be withdrawn from schools or withdrawn from government meetings. History has taught us that after severing ties with the British Empire, Guyana’s state religion was known to be Anglicanism, and the dominance of Christian values prevailed. Many of our public schools at the time were founded by the Anglican and Catholic churches, hence the custom of having prayers in school. However, over time Muslim and Hindu values were incorporated and gained equal status in the nation, some schools even had and still have religious student groups to this day.
Our Constitution in section 145 protects our freedom of thought and religion. It allows us to manifest and propagate our religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance in private and public contexts. With this in mind, governments continue to recognize and create an environment for the coexistence of people of different religions, while as a nation we observe various religious holidays. As a people, we must be very careful about our personal desires and their effect on others and more so how we perceive them, which I will not discuss in this letter. We need to make sure we find ways to keep our people together and not to suggest or implement policies that can be seen as divisive.
Prayers should stay in schools and at government meetings, a simple approach to making sure everyone is comfortable is to grant people the right to say their own prayer acknowledging their divinity or God. Like it or not, we are a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation that is rife with division. Therefore, we should never suggest to our young people that the way to deal with something or someone you don’t agree with is to ostracize them. We must learn to accept and respect the fact that one’s belief, culture and religion are not superior to others, but that they all have a vital role to play in bringing us together as a people and we can coexist. for the betterment of our beloved nation. That said, let the prayers stay in the schools and, if possible, give students a five-minute break to pray for the nation and its leaders in their different faith groups.
Clayon F. Halley