One frustration of mine, is sitting and listening to Christian parents (and voters) tell the big whopper, that “prayer was removed from school.” Family members, such as my own mother, complain about this to no end. In the case of my mother, her intention is not to lie, but she has been completely deceived by Christian zealots with a political bias.
Political bias? Yes, political bias. This point of “prayer in school,” is one of the reasons evangelicals vote Republican. This fear has been stoked by conservative politicians and news outlets, to drive Christians into a specific voting pattern (i.e. “Vote Republican and bring prayer back in school.”)
Was Prayer Taken Out of School?
This depends on how you interpret the question. Christian conservatives and evangelicals often state that “prayer has been removed from schools.” One of their big pushes for Donald Trump to win the 2016 election, was to “restore prayer to schools.”
But was it ever taken away?
Children and staff are allowed to pray, but there are restrictions.
The U.S. Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer in public schools in a 1962 decision, saying that it violated the First Amendment. But students are allowed to meet and pray on school grounds as long as they do so privately and don’t try to force others to do the same.NPR.org
The real problem is any school sponsored prayer. However, there have been cases where individuals have felt their religious expression was under attack, on the grounds of a public school. These cases are outward expression (such as ash on the forehead for “Ash Wednesday”) or muslim students wearing a head covering.
For now, however, let’s focus on this complaint that “prayer was taken out of school.”
The 1962 Supreme Court decision allows students or staff to pray, as long as it is private and there is no proselytizing. While I can’t attest for every action every school does in this regards, the government position is, that we can’t have public prayer in schools, but it is allowed privately.
Why Remove School Sponsored Prayer?
The problem with public prayer in school, is that it tends to skew towards one specific religion, Christianity. A public school represents the public. The public is not entirely composed of Christians. Public attendance can be in the form of atheists, Christian variants (Mormons, Jehovah Witness, etc.), Muslims, Jewish people, pagans and a variety of other religious movements.
Who’s prayer will be the school sponsored one?
The idiot evangelical will often say, “the one this country was founded upon!” But this country wasn’t founded upon any specific religion. In fact the early founders drafted reasons for separating religious views from government operation (separation of church and state).
My father, who was a minister, didn’t like the idea of school sponsored prayer, at least not when I was young. His ideas changed when he was inundated with fear mongering in his later years. His reason, back then, was that school sponsored prayer opens a pandoras box. What happens when a Christian child comes home telling his parents about his knew understanding of Mormon prayer, from his friend at school? Or how about the Evangelicals discovering their kids are prayer next to Muslims during the lunch hour?
Abrahamic religions are not known for their kindness towards one another. They see life through a lens of eternal damnation. Parents, even Evangelical ones, will not be pleased that their kids are preferring the religion of another. This, right here, is where the problem started.
What Evangelicals really want, is to have only one religious freedom, their religious expression. They certainly don’t want all religious expression to be allowed. What if a pagan began praying to Lucifer, to drown out the prayer’s to Jesus, from a school event? See the problem?
My illogical, evangelical mother, once threw this argument in my face. I stated all of the above. Her response was, “well those other religions aren’t a real religion.” Say’s who? They are real to the individuals, equally as your religion is to you.
Her response, “I don’t believe in that.” Believe in what? There’s no belief here, this is basic logic.
If you want to practice your faith in public school, then others have the right to practice their faith in public school and you must accept that.
When I was a child, my parents enrolled me in a private school. I had a friend who was Mormon and he began telling me all about his religion. I went home and told my parents. My mother was shocked. She couldn’t understand how that was happening. She told me to tell him about the better aspects of our “true Christian” faith. I was also told to invite him to our church.
I followed my mother’s advice, and in time my friend did the same to me. This went back and forth, until his parents kept my friend from talking with me.
Both sides offended each other, and both religions in this example are sourced from the same material.
Imagine if I went home and said to my mother that I had a Luciferian friend, or a Hindu friend. Imagine if I said, “I no longer believe in one life and heaven and hell, I think reincarnation is a better idea…”
Christians are Stupid
Perhaps the easiest group of people one can manipulate are Christians. They are so blatantly stupid. Rarely do you find one who actually thinks for themselves. Most, especially evangelicals, are spoon fed what to think. Their opinions are not their own.
Politicians have been manipulating Christians for 2,000 years! Ever since Constantine convinced Christians that it was god’s will to go out and kill people in the name of the religion, Christians have been easily led to the whims of politics.
It’s so easy to scare a Christian because each evangelical Christian is primed with the idea that “soon there will be a persecution of Christians.” This filter has jaded Christians into thinking every decision on public prayer is a decision against them personally.
Had Christians seen this issue clearly, they’d understand that the 1962 Supreme Court decision is in THEIR interest. They would scream loudly if children and school staff were allowed to pray in their respective non-Christian faiths, especially if their christian children were converted into other faiths (Buddhism, Hinduism and the like).
Why Then is Trump Talking About This?
If prayer was never removed from schools (only public prayer and/or school sponsored prayer), then what exactly is Trump claiming as a win?
Donald Trump is claiming that schools he finds to have trampled on this “right” will be subject to federal spending penalties. Meaning that they will receive less money, if they continue to disallow children or staff from public or school sponsored prayer.
Trump’s game here is political. He’s playing to some needy people who don’t even realize that the prayer mandates are to remove bias and hostility over religion, from a public learning setting.
Furthermore, Trump’s gambit is a moot point anyway. While he can withhold federal funding from a school (on these grounds), it would no doubt become a legal suit raised to the Supreme Court, who’s 1962 decision would still stand and the funds would have to be granted back to the state/school district.
In other words, this is simply politics. This is a politician blow hot air. He scares his audience, then gives them the antidote to the problem (his own policies) and praises himself the hero. This causes the Christian groups to flock to him, like moths to a flame. Irregardless of his divergence from their own stated “Christian ethics,” Trump is always hailed the hero by a slave minded Christian population.