Monday, June 3, 2013

Doug Reviews School Prayer

Unfortunately for you, I am a lazy and occasional libertarian. Every once in a while, I feel inspired to offer my two cents regarding the political operations of this wacky planet Earth. 

The topic on a local news radio talk show this morning was prayer in schools. In case you’ve been in a Turkish coma for the past few decades, let me sum up: One group wants to make sure prayers to God in the name of Jesus Christ are being said in schools. Another group would like to prevent the saying of those prayers in state institutions, like schools and General Motors.

Since I belong to the group who supports prayer, I feel like it is my responsibility to stand up for the group that does not. I count at least two atheists among my group of very best friends in the world. Since I know they are amazing people who live with a sense of morality I strive to emulate, I’d like to use the next few paragraphs to defend their right to “worship how, what, or where they may.”

The radio host had written an Op-Ed piece about the importance of prayer in school, and spent his time this morning really emphasizing the soundness of his points. I’ll try to sum up his defense of schools prayer through bullet points:

1.     This country was built on the common belief in a higher power- And if we’ve learned anything, it’s that the Founding Fathers were infallible geniuses, could make no mistakes, and were all secretly Mormon.

(Oh, and just a reminder, the country was established on the ideal that people should have freedom from religion. Remember how in England they were being forced to accept the church they didn’t believe, so they fled to find a place where they could believe how they choose? It’s a similar story to the one of the Mormons crossing the plains in search of a place where the government did not dictate their religion to them.)

Anyway, the Founding Fathers debate has a lot of going back and forth about their true, actual religious beliefs. So I’m gonna skip it. I will take a minute to list a few things they might have got wrong: women’s right to vote, black people counting as an actual whole human being, and fashion sense.

2.    People who don’t like/believe in prayer should just get over it and sit quietly until it’s over- To be honest, I feel this way too. Because currently, the prayer being offered lines up closely with my religion and therefore seems no big deal to me. The problem is, I have no right to represent those who believe differently than me.

I do wonder, however, how I would feel if I went to watch my daughter sing in a school assembly and they began by laying out each child’s prayer mat, turned them toward Mecca and chanted Islamic prayers while prostrating on the ground to kiss the floor.  Would I still sit quietly and “get over it”?
Probably not. I’d be nervous about what creating and living under an Islamic state could mean to my Mormon family and me. And that’s only because a few thousand Muslims give the other 1.4 Billion a bad name.

I mean, it could be worse, I could be a non-Christian in 1412 and been subjected to state sponsored disemboweling.  Or I could have been an attractive young woman in 1692 accused of refusing to have sex with a married man witchcraft (After all, Exodus 22:18 does say “thou shalt not permit a witch to live”).

I guess these thoughts gives me at least enough insight to try some empathy.  

3.    “Atheists are simply jealous of the happiness religious people get from their beliefs” (this was actually said by the radio guy today)- Unfortunately, this is the kind of thinking that gives us religious types a bad name. Atheists are no more or less happy than Christians, just like guys named Paul or no more or less handsome than guys named Steve.

And if I could take it a step further, I would guess that a person who makes this type of comment is reaching. Perhaps in an effort to mask their own struggles with their faith, they would find something easy to which they can attribute to religion. This morning’s version was “the happiness that comes knowing we can see our families again after death.”

Yes, the one common denominator I’ve noticed in my atheist pals is that they really hate their families and are always talking about how exciting it will be at death to finally get rid of the bozos and cease to exist.

Look, I don’t care what you believe. But this world is filled with a lot of people, and if we each believe the world should conform to the standards of our particular chosen religion, we will continue to see the fruits of that battle. They lead to a world filled with hate, terrorism, torture, war, rape, death and murder, all done in the name of my god being better at being god than your god.

Perhaps we should all take the radio host’s advice and relax a little bit, and if we are doing something in a setting paid for by the tax dollars of the collective, we should try to show as little preferential treatment to certain groups as possible.

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