‘See You At The Pole’ was recognized on Wednesday, September 28, and students around the globe gathered at their flagpoles, prior to the start of the school day, to pray for their school, friends, community, families and churches.
The annual See you at the Pole event began in Texas by a single youth group in 1990. In eight years the event was noted to have more than 3 million participants and has grown rapidly over the last twenty-five years with an increase in students participating each year.
The student led movement is to practice one simple act – prayer. Students are asked to voluntarily unite together around the flagpole to ask God to intercede and watch over their generation of students.
The week students meet at the pole to pray is also known as Global Week of Student Prayer. The mission behind the week of prayer to to unite students to come together throughout the week at designated prayer destinations to pray. It’s also a time launch bible clubs, student ministries and prayer groups.
The week is based off the scripture verse Psalm 24:3-6 3 Who may ascent into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul [a]to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive a blessing from the LORD And [b]righteousness from from the God of his salvation. 6 [c]This is the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face-even Jacob. www.biblegateway.com
Following the global student prayer week, Thursday, October 6, was nationally recognized as ‘Bring Your Bible To School Day’. This is the third year students have participated in the nationwide initiative promoting religious freedom in elementary, middle and high schools, even colleges.
Dr. James Dobson, author, radio personality and founder of Focus on the Family, a conservative group based out of Colorado Springs, Colorado, established the recognition of this day.
According The Christian Post, president of Focus on the Family, Jim Daly stated approximately 8,000 students actively participated by taking their Bibles to school in 2014, the first year the day was recognized. In 2015, the number increased substantially with an estimated 155,000 students participating, representing every state in the nation. This year Focus on the Family expected participation numbers to double from the previous year, expecting 300,000+ students to have brought their bibles to school.
Students who have brought their bibles to school in the past have since initiated bible clubs and helped students understand they don’t have to hide behind their faith in public schools.
Daly expressed concerns in The Christian Post that administrators and students across the nation often believed it was against the law or district policies to read or bring a bible to school.
“In reality, though, students have every right to express their faith in public school as long as they are not disrupting instruction time. An event like this might actually help school administrators breathe a sigh of relief because they won’t feel like they have to police the students all the time when it comes to religious liberty issues,” stated Daily in The Christian Post. www.christianpost.com/news/over-300000-students-express-their-religious-freedom-by-taking-part-in-bring-your-bible-to-school-day-170459/
ACLU-TN, American Civil Liberties Union, Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director, implied on the ACLU-TN website the same assessment as Jim Daly, that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of how the Constitution protects religious liberty.
Parents, students and administrators are left confused oftentimes, fearing lawsuits or negative repercussions if boundaries regarding religion are overstepped. Cheatham County Schools has endured repercussions over religious freedoms after a student prayed at a graduation ceremony and over the teachings of Islam.
There are limitations in school district policies but as long as schools or administration aren’t seeking to indoctrinate students, only teaching historical facts relating how religious freedoms were established globally, they are within their boundaries. Students who teachers think they are trying to indoctrinate another student do have the right to ask them not to discuss the topic during school hours and they can be asked to put their bibles away during instruction time if the student isn’t paying attention.
Thomas H. Castelli legal director with ACLU-TN stated in an article published online in 2014 titled ‘ACLU-TN Protects The Student’s Right To Read The Bible At school’ the following, “The First Amendment exists to protect religious freedom…while this means that schools may not impose or promote religion, it also means that students can engage in religious activities that they initiate, provided they do not cause a disruption or interfere with the education of other students.” https://www.aclu.org/news/aclu-tn-protects-students-right-read-bible-school
While the controversy on religion in public educational institutions will most likely be an ongoing battle, students across the globe in the last two weeks were able to unite together with other students through their Christian faith.
For more information on Global Week of Student Prayer and See You At The Pole initiative or how to start the student-led movement visit www.syatp.com. Those interested in the event next year, mark your calendars and set a reminder for September 27, 2017, ‘See You At The Pole’! ( www.nae.net/event/see-you-at-the-pole-3/)