Let us pray, says Paradise Town Council

The Paradise Town Council and members of a Ridge church would like to put God back into Paradise classrooms. Judging by the initial reaction from the school board, they don’t have a prayer.

The council voiced its support last week for an initiative brought by a local church group, which collected almost 1,000 signatures for the cause, to bring a silent “time of prayer” into Paradise Unified School District classrooms.

Clarence Deaton, a member of Magalia Community Church, which organized the effort to collect the signatures, said his Men’s Fellowship Group decided to collect the signatures after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“We just felt this was a good time, since the president was calling us to prayer, and the governor and all the leaders in the elected offices asked us to pray,” Deaton said. “It just seems like the right thing to do.”

The Town Council agreed with him. At a meeting on Nov. 12, all five members agreed to sign a letter in support of the prayer-in-schools effort. The letter, Deaton said, will be sent out to all the elected officials who represent the Paradise area in Sacramento.

Deaton said that he believes that children would get into less trouble if they started their school day with a prayer, though how this would protect them from terrorists is unclear.

“Many of us were brought up with a prayer in school every morning after the flag salute,” he said. “We seem to think that if today’s children had it, too, it would give them some guidance.”

He acknowledged that because “there are so many gods today,” the prayer would be silent and each child could pray his or her own way.

However, Paradise School District Superintendent Rick Landess said he won’t allow any prayer in his district’s classrooms.

"We follow state and federal laws," Landess said. "They’re clear on this issue. I wouldn’t allow it. … I haven’t paid much attention to it, to tell you the truth."