BY MAUREEN RIGO (WCA tEACHER) | JUNE 16, 2010
Wickenburg Christian Academy students removed from U.S. Supreme Court steps for praying
WASHINGTON – Ten students, one teacher, and three parents from Wickenburg Christian Academy (WCA) were recently asked to leave the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court because they were standing in a circle, heads bowed, praying. What has happened to our nation?
During the week of May 3-7, WCA students and parents traveled to Washington, D.C. on a Christian Discoveries study tour. Wednesday, May 5, was Capitol Hill Day for the group from Wickenburg, Ariz.. First stop was the front steps of the Supreme Court. After taking a few pictures the group gathered off to the left at the top of the bottom level of steps to pray.
Immediately the guard posted there ran down the steps and asked the group to go somewhere else to pray. He tapped Mrs. Rigo, lead teacher for WCA, on the shoulder and said, “Ma’am, I’m not going to tell you that you can’t pray, but you can’t do it here. Please go somewhere else.” She asked, “Since when?” The answer, “This week.” So the group moved to the street level and prayed on the sidewalk instead.
Several of the students were visibly shaken by the fact that they were asked to leave simply for praying. The group discussed the difference between constitutional rights and inalienable rights and who the authority is for each. The guard was right in saying that he wasn’t going to say that the group couldn’t pray, that is after all, an inalienable right. No one can take away our right to pray.
The next day, Thursday, May 6 was the National Day of Prayer. The morning tour was Gettysburg. When the Gettysburg classes were complete the group headed back to Washington, D.C. with the intent of participating in the National Day of Prayer on the south lawn of the White House. Once again they were approached by a guard but did manage to get their group prayer time in before being asked to leave. Students and adults alike were upset that their rights to freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and right to peaceable assembly didn’t apply on the National Day of Prayer.
After the White House stop students received a more sobering kind of education as they visited the Holocaust Museum. Some commented on the way the horror in Germany began so simply with the removal of rights for the Jews while so many others looked the other way. Is it beginning here to Christians in America today they asked? Discussion centered around the rights we are willing to give up in order to be safe. The question of the day was; Are we giving up our rights for security? If so, where does that stop? The rest of the evening was spent at the Lincoln, Korean, and Vietnam memorials.
So what did the students learn? They learned that freedom isn’t free. They learned that many of our liberties are being curtailed or taken away in the name of security. They learned that our nation desperately needs good leadership. They learned that now, more than ever before, they need to be praying for our country.