Prayer in Public School? It’s the Twenty-First Century!

I read a fairly short article on Huffington Post Alberta, which I agreed with. But that’s not the interesting thing. On Facebook, there was a rather heated argument.  And I got myself involved in it briefly.

There’s a woman who was supporting the Lord’s Prayer being recited in public schools in Saskatchewan, and a lot of people argued against her, saying that the prayer infringes on non-Christians’ right to be exempt from it. In Canada, you cannot impose your religion on another person. The woman argued that since the others were asking that the prayer not be said in class, they were infringing on her children’s right to say the prayer. But that’s not what they were saying at all. They were saying that her children could pray however they like, but the other children should not be forced to do it. She went absolutely nuts. I chimed in with my own little comment:

Your kids can pray whatever they want whenever they want. That is their right. However, that prayer should not be forced on other kids who may not be Christian. It’s a public school. Atheism is not being taught. School subjects are being taught. Religion doesn’t come into it. Religion is a personal thing and should remain private. Your kids can pray if they want, but don’t make mine pray to something they don’t believe in.

You see, she claimed that her children were being taught atheism. They weren’t, of course. I presume that she believes that the teaching of evolution, the big bang, and science in general is the teaching of atheism. It’s not. She later said that scientists believed that the Earth was flat. Actually, that didn’t happen. I added this:

Late to this conversation. Judy, it’s been know that the earth is round since the times of Ancient Greece. No one suggested it was flat after that. Anyone who captained a ship knew the world was round, because they has to take that into account when calculating their location and direction.

The belief that Columbus thought the world was flat is completely wrong. He knew the Earth was round. He was trying to find a shortcut to India across the ocean. He just ended up running into a few islands in the Caribbean. But that’s another story.

Back to the original topic. The teaching of religion in public schools should never be something forced on students. If you include one religion, you must include the others. If you have prayers in class, they should be silent, and should never be forced on students. Nor should they be shamed into it. Like I said on Facebook, religion is a personal, private thing. It should never be imposed on others. And public schools are for learning the skills needed to become a functional adult in society. Leave the teaching of religion to churches.

One other thing, she wouldn’t respond to this. Someone asked her that if she follows the Bible religiously, does she obey Matthew 6:5-6? Prayer is not to be done publicly, but in the privacy of your own home. Anyway, I’m staying out of that. I’m not going to argue scripture, because I find it a pointless activity.

What do you think? Should kids in public schools have to pray? Or should religion be kept out of public schools completely? The comments section is open for a little debate. But keep it civil, please.

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31 thoughts on “Prayer in Public School? It’s the Twenty-First Century!”

  1. It’s not religion that is of importance. Values are more important. Irrespective of one’s religion, it is important what values one grows up with and what values the society, the teachers and families are imparting on the children.
    Nice article and very pertinent question you’ve put up.

    1. I agree completely. What I don’t like is that people seem to think that we can’t learn values and morality unless we are religious. That is completely wrong. I think morality and values are often learned through society and as a survival point of view. You’re good to others, they will be good to you. Being moral is advantageous for living, so we do it whether we’re religious or not.

      1. Absolutely agree – “Being moral is advantageous for living, so we do it whether we’re religious or not.” Also, the moral tenets are similar in every religion. We can relate well to the moral tenets of a religion we do not follow. Therefore, just focusing on the right values and the moral tenets for a peaceful living could help solve the differences arising out of following the ways of a particular religion in a public setting. The world is a global village now and people from various creed and religion co-exist within most organisations.

        1. Seems we agree quite a bit on this. Since we’re part of the global village, we need to focus more on our similarities and see just how much people are alike, no matter which culture or religion they’re from. Enough hatred because of differences. Celebrate the differences, stop trying to eradicate them. Make a connection through our similarities.

  2. When I was in high school in the ’70s in the United States, we had a moment of silence as part of the morning announcements. Students could choose to pray, meditate, breathe, collect their thoughts, stare into space, or whatever for a few moments, as long as they were quiet.

    I don’t think it is appropriate to have any spoken prayer in public schools or secular events. One of the things I appreciate about Pope Francis is that he will include silence so each person may offer prayers, blessings, or whatever is in accord with personal belief. He will even say that when he asks for prayers or blessings from the crowd, that if a person is not a believer that they offer good wishes instead.

    1. Although I may not agree with Pope Francis about some things, I think he is one of the most open-minded Popes ever. I have some respect for him in that respect.

      But I agree, just have a moment of silence and let everyone do what they would do in their own religion.

  3. It is absolutely inappropriate to have prayers in public school, regardless of what kind of prayers they are or whatever. If you want something like that, send your kid to a private Christian school. Simple as that.
    On a related note, I was really impressed with the Christmas concert at my kid’s school, which was designed so as to leave out anything religious. I know a lot of people who would call that part of the “war on Christmas” (BS, BS, BS), but I personally thought it was excellent because it means that all the non-Christian kids can still participate, singing about snowflakes and jingle bells, and all that stuff.

    And in closing, relating to that last bit you wrote about the question she didn’t answer: it’s been my personal experience that some of the most “devout” Christians are the ones that know absolutely nothing about their religion. I actually got into a big argument with a bunch of Catholic coworkers once because they were eating meat on Ash Wednesday and I pointed it out. They fought me down to the floor that it was only Good Friday that you can’t eat meat before we finally looked it up online and I proved them wrong. >.> If you’re gonna preach, maybe actually read the book first? XP

    1. I know what you mean. I’ve often wondered why very devout Christians would do only some of the things they’re supposed to, but not others. When did they decide what parts of the Bible to follow and what parts to ignore?

      1. I think a lot of it is that the overwhelming majority of them never actually read the Bible…they just regurgitate whatever sermons they hear, and those sermons are usually hand-picked to put the spotlight on things that the Church knows will give people an emotional response, whereas they actively avoid the bits that they know will make people go, “Wait, what?”

        1. Right. And that’s probably why many atheists have read the Bible all the way through and many of those moments have made them question their faith. There’s one atheist who hosts an atheism talk show in Texas that was studying to become a minister. His studies made him question everything.

  4. I think kids should be given the option. Not forced to. Not required to. But set aside 5 minutes for those who want to pray, can. Yes, I believe prayer is private. So let it be done individually, not as a whole class. On the one hand we can’t force non-Christians into the Christian way of life. On the other hand we can’t deny the Christians their rights just because others don’t agree. Wouldn’t that be like denying everyone a cookie just because one person is on a diet?

    1. Well, that does happen. Schools are denying people to eat anything with peanuts in them because of peanut allergies. I can understand that, though, since contamination can happen.

  5. The practice of prayer at secular meetings such as city councils, should not be held either. Another issue is prayer at football and other sports events. For one thing, it can be pointed out that in that case their are TWO opposing teams–both potentially praying to God that their team wins the game. So, does He pick a side?

    Prayer should be a private thing, or among others of the same persuasion.

    1. The football example is something I have always wondered about. And also, I’ve often wondered why God would even care about something as trivial as a football game when other more pressing matters in the world are happening. It’s like praying to God to let your cupcakes turn out well, or to avoid having the bus driver that annoys you, or of course, winning the lottery.

      1. even God doesn’t help the Browns much. The game example writ large may be the example of two highly-religious countries fighting each other, and both appealing to the same God for dominance.

          1. now now…Cleveland is a great city…we just don’t have the industry we did once. Our sports teams could use (a lot) of help. They like to blame that on a so-called curse. When my great-grandson was about four I asked him who was going to win a baseball game…he said “well the Bluejays are going to win, but we have to be for the Indians because that is our team.” I always liked that. He is an ice hockey player now, he’s eight.

            1. I’m joking. Cleveland rocks, right? My own home city gets a lot of jokes against it, calling it Deadmonton, even though it’s extremely busy these days.

            2. Betty White, too, I think….oldies but goody people! We have the Rock Hall of Fame here, which is famous and a real boost for Cleveland. My grand-daughter is a rocker, has a band with an impressive following and does gigs across the country. Based in Akron, Ohio.

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