Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Prayer in Texas Schools

One of the things I’ve heard time and time again from religious parents is how the separation of church and state actually attacks religion (because Christians are so persecuted in America of course).

Prayer in school is one example always used.

Some ague that the government has taken away their children's right to worship their sky fairy god freely and openly during the school day.

Why this argument is complete utter crap is glaringly obvious to most non-religious people.

Only mandated school prayer has been removed.

That’s it.

Students can pray anytime they like, it just can’t be forced or endorsed by the school.

Simple right?

But for some odd reason, parents find the idea of a personal relationship with god horrifying to comprehend and their solution is to disregard everyone else’s personal freedom and turn our schools into a Sunday school jamborees.

From statesman.com:

DALLAS — A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a Texas law that requires public school students to observe a daily minute of silence in order to pray, reflect or otherwise remain quiet.

A three-judge panel from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans affirmed a district court ruling, saying the law is constitutional because it expressly allows any silent use of that minute, whether religious or not.

The provision, which took effect in September 2003, changed the way school days begin in Texas, allowing children to "reflect, pray, meditate or engage in any other silent activities" for one minute after the American and Texas pledges of allegiance have been recited.

Solicitor General James Ho argued for the state that the moment of silence fostered patriotism, provided time for contemplation and protected religious freedom.

Circuit Judge Edith Brown Clement noted the lawmaker who sponsored the moment of silence bill expressed a desire to add prayer to Texas' existing statute after the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found a similar law in Virginia was constitutional.

But the judges said the law that ultimately took effect in Texas allows for any silent use of the time.

I’m really bothered by this.

Not because I’m offended by people who want to pray at school, but because of this is another dangerously uncertain dam that needs constant watching in case it should decide to drown us all in the Lord’s glory.

With our failing education problems in this country already, it just seems like such a huge waste of time.

That's not even taking the fact that Texas has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in this country into account. It makes more sense to spend that minute a day to remind kids about the importance of condoms and birth control then on prayer.

I’m also concerned with the way the word “patriotism” has become a mechanism to sneak prayer into schools (similar to how “intelligent design” has become a code word for “creationism”).

If a parent wants his or her child to attend a school that nurtures their delusions religious beliefs, that’s completely their personal choice and they have every right to enroll their child in private school.

But if they decide to enroll their child in public school, then the secular ideals of a secular society should be upheld.

And those parents are just gonna have to suck it up.

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