Prayer in school

A friend sent me this photo (link)

Why can’t they? I pray when I want. I pray where I want.

Perhaps the reason that this is so misunderstood, is that some people don’t realize how many different religions there are in the world.

They want to have the school stop, and do THEIR prayer every day. Screw the rest of the religions. And screw the atheists two or three times.

When we were in Guatemala, which is predominantly Catholic, we were hiking in the woods, and we came upon a religious ceremony as practiced before the Europeans came. I don’t know the right term, but the religious leader, the pastor, the rabbi, the religious professional, the holy man, was conducting a ceremony for the lay person. It involved cutting the head off of a live chicken, while burning a special incense, with a lot of words and gestures.

Clearly we did not understand everything it was going on. I mean them no disrespect whatsoever. They were practicing their religion.

So, is anyone proposing that, at a certain time every day, that a Guatemalan holy man, comes into the room, burns incense, says the special words and makes a special gestures, and cuts the head off of a live chicken, at your school?

I can practice my religion in my own head and not bother anyone else. If you have a religion that requires that everyone else, stops and practices your religion at a certain time of day, then I feel sorry for you. I believe in religious freedom. Following my own god.

Some religions do require special ceremonies. It’s my understanding that the Muslims are supposed to pray at five specific times of the day, and in a particular manner. That is not my understanding about the dominant religions in America. To accommodate that in the classroom, is going to be challenging. Because all of the bigots that are present, will immediately know who the people that practice a different religion are. Those OTHER people are the ones that walk out of the room to go pray by their religion’s rules. I would try to accommodate that if we can. I would also not lean on them. Not pick on them, for being different than me.

But a much simpler and more equal and fair solution, is to not have any religion takeover part of the school day. There is no way to get everything equal and fair. I have an advantage because I can pray whenever I want. Some people feel that the little kids in the picture are the way everyone MUST pray. And so on. So, getting public and especially Federal institutions out of the MANDATED prayer business seems like the only practical solution.

I’ve never heard a single one of the people that is so upset about getting prayer out of school, complained that we need to have the Muslim prayer times, incorporated into the school day. (Or to incorporate Guatemalan prayer. Or Shinto.)

To me, religious freedom means allowing people to practice their own religion. I have no problem praying in MY way dozens, sometimes hundreds of times during the day. I sincerely doubt that anyone around me notices. My religion does not involve showing off for other people. Like in the photo. I don’t need for the school, the office, the group of people I’m with, to stop everything so that I can do that. For the people that half that have everyone know how pious they are, I suggest that they show their merit through the way they live. The way they treat other people. The way they allow other people to practice their own religion.

I think that the thing that is so distasteful to some of the people that are active in trying to "get prayer out of school." Is that in practice it usually means forcing everyone to do it the official way. And if you’re so bold as to abstain, then there is tremendous peer pressure, there is incredible stigma attached to you wanting to have your own religion. You absolutely MUST practice the official religion!

It could be that a few, not very enlightened, atheists, want to actually literally stop prayer in school. But that’s not what I want. And that’s not what any enlightened person wants. They just want the massive pressure to switch over to the official religion, to go away. America is suppose to be about religious freedom. And I and many other people believe that’s important. Worth fighting for.

We are people who want people to pray the way THEY want to. Including NOT at all.

The photograph is an excellent example of my point. All of the children are conspicuously displaying the same attitude. If anyone deviates from that, they’re going to stand out like a sore thumb. They are going to get massive peer pressure to conform. If their spiritual belief is the least bit different from the official one, they are going to get leaned on like there’s no tomorrow.

If the official religion is your religion, then you’re going to think, "That’s great. We’ve been able to force lots of children into our mold."

The people that believe in a religious freedom, realize that that’s a dishonest way to be.

I’m not trying to change over to how I think. I want you to keep on thinking the way you want to. And to allow others to do the same.


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