When I left home to attend law school at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, my father 'warned' me that I 'was going to get a lot of exposure to the Catholic point of view.' Well before finishing Notre Dame, I came to the conclusion that if you talk with ten Catholics, you are going to get at least eleven different opinions. It came as a bit of a surprise when my Torts Professor, Charles Rice, opened every class with a recital of 'Hail Mary, Full of Grace.' This experience did not make me a Catholic. (Shoot, after three years at Notre Dame, I was still cheering for Ohio State; and that is not going to change!)
One day, Father McCafferty opened class with a prayer. It was one of those nonsectarian, oh Lord, your world is beautiful, help us to do good, etc. numbers. And then he announced that that was the exact same prayer that the Supreme Court had ruled was unconstitutional to have schoolkids recite, way back in the early 60's. I thought to myself, that was just about the most innocuous thing I've ever heard. At that moment, school prayer was not an issue I was going to expend much energy on. Until I heard the story about Cindy Schoo. (Please, no Grinch jokes!)
Cindy Schoo was one my younger brother's girlfriends, raised Jewish, and I heard from Mark that apparently her father had been raised Catholic, and must have had an absolutely terrible experience. When Cindy was little, whenever Mr. Schoo saw a nun 'in habit,' he would say to Cindy 'Look at the witch!' (I only heard this secondhand more than 30 years ago, but it has stuck in my mind.)
My six grade teacher (in '66-'67) was a lady named Mrs. Boggs and I vaguely remember her reading us a prayer on a couple of occasions. OK, earlier this year, we had an unofficial family reunion as the four Mitchell brothers helped Dad move out of the house we grew up in and Dad had lived in since New Year's Day 1960.
While we were together, Mark told me a story that completely amazed me. He had Mrs. Boggs in 6th grade (in '68-'69) and he told me that Mrs. Boggs would sometimes ask kids to read a prayer. And when she asked Cindy Schoo (age 12 at the time) to read a prayer, Cindy would do so, then would go back to her desk, and ask God to forgive her for having done so. I remember Mrs. Boggs as being a very good teacher. After all, any woman who can handle spending 180 days in a classroom with (2 years apart, Bruce Mitchell, Kent Mitchell, and Mark Mitchell), and not wind up in the psychiatric ward can handle just about ANYTHING! I was and am absolutely flabbergasted that anything like that happened in Upper Arlington with out there being a Force Five and half/ Richter scale twelve S**T hurricane/earthquake hitting the fan.
While I'm familiar with the joke that as long as there are math tests, there will always be prayers in the public schools, on the whole, I think the Supreme Court got it right with the ban on prayer in the Public Schools.