Friday, September 25, 2009

Christians Need to Get Over Prayer in Public Schools

I had a friend on Facebook post a video promoting public school prayer. It was based on an email that was circulating years ago where a school child asks why God did not stop the various school shootings. A voice from heaven sarcastically replies, "Because I am not allowed in public schools anymore."
I find the video very troubling. First, because people who claim the name of Christ are putting words into God's mouth (I seem to recall that that being a commandment violation) and second, because they are just really bad words.
I went to the Facebook comment section where the video was hosted and read some of the comments. Here are some examples:
  • This was truly inspirational. Why should we stand back and let people tell us what to do. We need to step up as Children of God and put God back in schools.
  • US as Christian's have to stand up and shout his name out loud and let people know he is here for us ALL of us and those who don't believe need to sit back and take good look at the world since God has been taken out
  • We are definitely reaping what we have sown. Now we need to take back what the enemy has stolen from us and our children!
  • When we ask..."What has happened to society?" or "What's wrong with people?" Here is your answer.
  • I am Thankful to the few Teachers that still have prayer with the students in class. They are risking their jobs for our Children .
It always amazes me how myopic these folks can be. There is absolutely no empathy for how these statements might sound to someone who is not a Christian. If someone of another religion were wanting things from their religion (ancestor meditation, reading the Gita, prayers to the goddess) inserted into the school day, Focus on the Family could not contain all the money that would roll in from Christians to fight it. Yet we cannot seem to get it through our thick Christian heads that when we demand "Prayer in Public Schools", we are doing the exact same thing. We condemn in others behaviors we praise for ourselves. I don't blame non-Christians for being scared of us. I'M scared of us!

I believe the public schools are correct in choosing not to force children to pray. Christianity has a deep history of forced baptisms and conversions. Let us show that we have truly renounced that part of our past and let the issue of prayer in public schools go.


wellis68 said...

What a dumb video. Hahaha.

I didn't know Canada was part of the United States... I also didn't know that spanking children was obviously moral... I also didn't know that I was asking myself why kids don't know right from wrong...

It's hard to take this video seriously. The worst suggestion of all the bad suggestions this video makes is that if we prayed in schools there wouldn't be shootings and people wouldn't do bad things. That's manipulative and theologically ignorant.

Unknown said...

I could go on for days about the content in the video. However I think you did a nice job in a sentences.

Logan said...

Amen brother, Amen!

Steve H. said...


Actually, I didn't find the video that objectionable. There is a moral and dicipline breakdown in the U.S. public school system and the makers of the video offer their reason for it. Not perfectly perhaps but making some interesting points.

You also are a great defender of how things are perceived by those who may not care (i.e., the Christian perspective to a non-Christian) But why is it only in areas of religion that this is cared about. I had to endure endless talks from teachers on the importance in Math and had to sit through whole classes of it when I was not a Math guy and just was not interested :) My sensabilities were constantly offended

I never bought the arguments as well that say, "Well if you let one group to "A" whose to stop another group from doing "B"?

Just this week the principal of our school deemed that the older girls could not dye their hair because "then what happens if one wants to have pink streaks" The answer that we not allow anything because maybe someone may want something freaky never sat well with me.

Andrew said...

""Well if you let one group to "A" whose to stop another group from doing "B"?"

But I am not making a slippery slope argument. I am saying that it would be hypocritical to demand this right for Christians, but deny it to every other religion.

As to your earlier point, I am assuming then that your opinion is that non-christians should just have to sit through, or be forced to partake in, our rituals simply because we are the majority... and if they are uncomfortable, they should just deal with it. I will never agree with such a position. If that means my taking the side of the non-christian against the christian, I will happily do so in the name of Christ.

Andrew said...

Steve - After a bike ride, I thought of another interpretation of your meaning (Logan just wrote about how hard it sometimes is to interpret meaning and intent in comments). I am wondering if you are making the point that students should no more have to sit through a math class that they do not want than they would a prayer they do not want.

That would be an argument against compulsory school, and I too am against dragging kids through a school they do not want to be in... but that is another blog post. :)

Steve H. said...


My point in the Math example is that schools constantly promote things that not everyone cares about or buys into. When I was a public school student in junior high I was exposed to points of view and teachings that were sanctioned by the school that I either disagreed with or could care less about. I'm not saying there should be school prayer but if there was, if there worst thing a non-Christian had to deal with (as well as anyone else) in a school day was a teacher either giving a minute of silence for kids to pray individually or to lead a prayer asking God to bless the day, I think we would all survive.

Should non American kids be forced to stand during the Pledge of Alligence...I don't have an answer but I do know (and as a teacher you should as well) that any school policy is going to have its detractors.

Gabriel's school in Boulder couldn't even have a "Christmas" party. Ludicrous!

Logan's right though, meaning is often misintepreted in e-mails

Unknown said...

Andy, I think Steve H. Just confirmed that he believes non-Christians would not be harmed by having prayer in school. The premise is very disturbing. I also think it is absurd to bundle arguments. "Well this is okay because you do this."...or I can do this because Sally does this."
The courts have determined that theological indoctrination in schools is improper. It has not determined that political indoctrination in schools is not allowed. I think each argument is a separate issue and should be argued as such.

Steve H. said...


As I am stated, I am not advocating State sanctioned prayer but the fact that courts have stated that some forms of prayer are unconstitutional should not stop people from legally lobbying for such legal positions to change.

And no I don't think anyone is harmed by a prayer at the beginning of a school day. In fact, if done well, someone choosing to not pray (as everyone should have the choice) can lead to constructive discussion about the role, or lack thereof, of religion in American life.

I lived 6 years on the grounds of a Tibeaten Buddhist monestry and had wonderful talks with some of the priests there. Did their chants occasionally annoy me? Sure... but I lived.

People are WAY to easily offended in America in areas of race and religion.

BTW, how is someone asking God for a blessing on the day going to "harm" a child. In a day where we are worring about teen pregnancy, drugs, gangs, guns, and STDs in schools, some kids saying a prayer just doesn't seem that big a deal...

Brook said...

Steve -
1) kids would probably be harmed by that morning prayer to God just as much as they'd be harmed by a morning incantation to the dark lord satan... which is to say, probably not much, but the thought of having my kid subjected to that every morning would piss me off pretty good.
side note: if there's gonna be prayer led in school, then I think ALL religious traditions should take rotating turns leading it (including satanists and atheists) in the style of their tradition. I think THAT would be wonderfully educational and appropriate.

2) I never knew you lived on the grounds of a Buddhist monestary for 6 years! how about some blog action on those years and conversations?! That fascinates me and I wanna hear more about it.

Andrew said...

The thing is, this issue is not about offence or annoyance; it is about appropriateness.

Christians in school have always been able to pray. That is not what this is about. This is about getting the other kid to pray. It is a way of exerting power over another.

To me, it is no different than when terrorists get a captive to sign a "confession". Everyone knows it is bogus, but it is a way of exerting power. The prayer would be bogus for an unbeliever... so why would we want it? Because it shows our power and dominance.

I think people get distracted by the event itself saying, "What's the big deal?" However, the crux of this is what is being communicated in the issue, not what is occuring in the act.

Not to mention, speaking as a Christian, the unneighborliness and complete lack of grace that is being shown by many of my brothers and sisters in Christ on this issue. I do not believe for one second that this is how Christ would have us behave.

Steve H. said...

Andy: I agree with you and thats why I'm hesitant to have School sanctioned prayer but your point assumes (as many of your points do ) the scenario of the "bad" Christian who wants to ram it down peoples throats. Most situations would not involve that. I would like to see more of the "free execise" clause of the 1st amendment though. From what I understand there can be lunch time and after school Bible clubs but teachers can not participate if it involves students. This for me is a violation of free exercise.

Brook: I support the academic learning of world religions but don't think we need a rotation if it came to school prayer. When the President swears the oath of office, one doesn't do it on the Bible and the next on the the Alastair Crowley 101 Wiccan spells Omnibus :)

Krista said...

Thanks for your words, A. I try to look at it from the perspective of, if the tables were turned, would my position be different? and in this case, if my kids were getting bits of Buddhist (or other) theology at school, while mention of the Christian God was forbidden, I might be inclined to yank my kids.

On the other hand, I think things are starting to progress to the point where kids aren't allowed to pray or mention God in speeches, while kids of other religions are encouraged to express themselves at school more and more.

I want to say that when we preserve everyone's freedoms, we preserve our own. Because as you pointed out, it will be a sad day when the tables are turned.

But part of me is suspicious that what's coming soon is that other religions become protected while Christianity is not. Maybe some kind of affirmative action for minor religions. I don't know, I feel crazy even as I write it.

All I do know is that we have to be vigilant of what's happening in our kids' schools regardless of the religious climate there. It's our job as parents and as Christians. Thank you for being vigilant, Andy.

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