So. Maria’s daughter Bella got to stand in the hall while her class said the “God is great” prayer before lunch yesterday.
That’s the short version. I’d really recommend going to read Maria’s full version about prayer in a North Carolina elementary school.*
I grew up in a small community, probably much like where Bella goes to school. Everyone I knew went to church. Something of the Christian variety. Our town had no synagogue. Certainly not a Mosque. I remember going to a football game in Branson, Missouri and they prayed for the two teams before the game. Over the public address system. Even at the age of 14 I was like, “Uh. That’s probably not cool with the legal types.” Of course, that was the predominant culture of Southern Missouri, so no one really batted an eyelash over it.
That same year, I attended a lockin sponsored by the Community Ministerial Alliance. Suddenly this Methodist/Disciples/Presbyterian girl was in the midst of Baptists who were talking about hell and Assembly of God people who were waving their hands and testifying during songs. Which pretty much freaked my shit out.
Here we were, all theoretically talking to and about the same God and I was super uncomfortable with how the leaders were going about it.
I still think of that weekend and get a knot in my stomach. I was so uncomfortable. Here I was among friends, in a safe place and I completely freaked out. Of course I could have insisted I was going home – but I kept thinking – this shouldn’t bother me so much, surely it will get better. I also was fascinated, much like a rubber necker watching a crash site.
My mom randomly brought up that retreat just after I wrote this piece – She said she will never forget the sound of my voice, almost in tears saying, “Come. Get. Me.” So I did bail out when I was uncomfortable. I’m proud of myself for that but I wish I remembered that part of the story.
That’s the thing about religion – it’s so intensely personal that one can’t blanket a practice on a large group of people and not get a variety of reactions.
I think it is my responsibility to teach Alex what is important to me when it comes to religion. Which is different from what Scout will teach him about what is important to him when it comes to religion.
Even if it weren’t just completely not legal to lead group prayer in public schools – I wouldn’t want them to do it anyway. Why?
Let’s pick a hot topic. Let’s pick abortion. Just for the dramatic point. Let’s say that you believe that “A”* is absolutely right when it comes to the matter. Your child is in a classroom where in their daily prayer, the leader prays that “B”* will come to pass. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty pissed about my Alex sitting in a situation that forced his participation like that.
(*I use “A” and “B” in place of words like “for” or “against” or “choice” or “anti” because I don’t want that example colored by any opinions I may have.)
What if our children were expected to listen to and participate in the prayers of people who agree with and celebrate the 9/11 attacks?
I would never want the children of people dear to me to be sent away so that Alex could say a Christian prayer while their children would rather say a Jewish, Buddhist, Hindi, Muslim or no freaking prayer at all.
I think there was an absence of malice on the part of the teachers. I think they were just “doing things they way they’ve always been done.” That doesn’t make it right, but it at least makes me want to educate some of these people about the laws in a conversation and not a court room.
I know there will be those who take up the flag of objecting to people “banning God from schools”. Those people might even bring up words such as “Columbine”. I’ve heard it before.
To those people, I say this: If you believe that God is with you always, and your children believe that as well, then believe that God is with your children whether or not they say a prayer before lunch while they are at school. The silent prayer between a child and God is sweeter than any noisy gong.
And y’know it’s *legal* too.
*I cited the incorrect county so I pulled that from the link.
Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing]
You’re so right on ever single level.
The silent prayer between a child and God is sweeter than any noisy gong. —perfectly stated.
What ever happend to the prayer closet or corner that the Bible asked us to go to?
I never understood prayer in school. I have never understood imposed religion.
It almost undermines what we believe God and God’s power is about…you know omnipresent…in your heart…all those nitty details.
Thanks for sharing.
I love you. And I’d like to echo Angie’s comment!! I’m totally with you on all of what you said.
this is wonderful. may i post a link leading to it on my blog?
What I don’t understand is why schools and/or school-sponsored events can’t just have a moment of silence instead of a specific prayer. This way, everyone can say whatever prayer they want, or nothing at all. And I think it might even be legal. By the way I like your saying at the end of the post. That should be on a t-shirt or bumper sticler or something.
I live in a very conservative part of the country where I work as a school administrator, and I was shocked when I read Maria’s account–both by the fact that school employees were actually leading prayers and that they thought an acceptable solution to her objection would be to isolate her child during that activity. This is definitely not the norm, and, as you pointed out, illegal.
I’m also a Christian, yet I’ve never understood why many people get so worked up about “God not being in the public schools.” Students have lots of rights to participate in self-directed religious activities and are certainly free to pray on their own before eating lunch. It’s when teachers or other staff members lead the activity that the line is crossed.
Very well said, hon. I think at times Christian’s lose track of themselves and forget about all the different TYPES and debates on religion, etc. I’m betting that, because prayer was a part of the school before non-prayer, many didn’t know or see it as unconstitutional and probably won’t. Some will probably be self-righteous about it & try guilt trips. (btw … no where in TRUE Christianity is there anything self righteous or cruel)
The bottom line is, God is every where for those that choose to believe in God (myself being one of them) and not praying in school won’t make him go away. That’s a job for their parents and their church of choice. School is about education and if they want their child to learn dogma in school, they should send them to a school with a religion base.
For myself, I would like to see less drama on both sides. From Christians that don’t get their way and from those offended by Christian prayers. When everyone comes from a calm place of kindness, the true energy of LOVE gets to prevail and no ones child will feel left out. I wish everyone (school system, teachers, parents) all thought about what they’re teaching the kids more and their differences less. But then, Unicorns probably really would poop cupcakes … 😉
Just FYI, it wasn’t in Wake County, NC.
And as a Christian, I agree with you wholeheartedly.
Coming from a complete Atheist? Bless you.
What I Believe « Kaiser Mommy
[…] believe the same for prayer public and […]