This is the entry I was working on when I got sidetracked by to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This entry was prompted by an e-mail my sister forwarded to me. More on that in another entry. But, part of it had to do with amending the constitution to allow prayer in school. That is state sponsored prayer. To quote a bumper sticker I saw years ago, “As Long as There are Tests There Will be Prayer in Schools.'
I don’t really have a problem with prayer in schools as long as certain conditions are met. It should be limited to the students and they need bring there own material from home. Although there would be no way to prove they went to their pastor for help. And they should be able to give a little one or two minute talk on what makes their personal beliefs special. For example “I’m Eastern Orthodox and this is how we got started.” Or “I’m Catholic and I think St. Francis is special because.”
I was raised a Methodist so speaking about John Wesley and his beliefs, the hymns Charles Wesley wrote, the influence of this mother Susanna: she raised a rectory full of children on a parson’s stipend and taught Bible classes when her husband was away. He supported her by the way. Where the name Methodist came from in the first place. It was not meant to be a compliment.
The important this is that everybody gets a shot at it. Probably more than one shot as the school year goes by. Every Rastafarian, Pasatafarian, B’Hai, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Jew, and Wiccan gets their time up front. The only ground rules would be respectful attention and not calling down the wrath of God/dess on anybody else. The kids would probably get a kick out of it. They might accidentally learn something and at least half of the parents and other adults would be fit to be tied. That in itself makes me think it would be a really great idea and also that is will never happen.
I suspect that this is not what the prayer amendment crew is looking for. They’re looking for an official acknowledgement that this is a “Christian” nation. An expression of what I call Civic Religion. If they can be convinced to write an official prayer that doesn’t offend anyone it will be so bland and impersonal that it will all but worthless. Anything else will risk leaving a significant minority standing in the cold. But, in the current political climate, most of them will settle for standing in cold silence rather than risking calling attention to themselves.