Keep It Personal, Please

Perhaps there is no single place where the concept of separation between church and state is as important as in our public schools.  There was good reason for Thomas Jefferson to call for a ‘wall of separation’ between church and state, and today there are even more reasons.  And yet, in recent years, most especially since Donald Trump took office in 2017, that wall seems to be breaking down.

Today it was announced that …

“The Trump administration is moving to strengthen protections for students who want to pray or worship in public schools and proposing changes that would make it easier for religious groups that provide social services to access federal funds.”

Now, I can hear you saying, “Okay, so what’s the big deal … if a kid wants to pray while in school, who cares?”  But here’s the thing … any kid who wants to pray in school at any time of the day is already free to do so.  Nobody is going to punish the child who closes his eyes and says, “Lord, please help me pass this test”.  But … to allow a child to force the entire classroom to listen to his prayer is an infringement on the rights of the other children.

Prayer should be a personal thing, not a group activity … and especially when not all the group believe in the same things.  In today’s public schools, we have Muslim children, Catholic children, Jewish children, and atheist children.  But, it is the evangelical Christians who are driving the decisions to include prayer in school.  Can you imagine the evangelical parents of little Johnny who comes home one afternoon and starts talking about Allah, because little Mohammed said his prayers in school?  Oh yeah … mommy and daddy would be at the school board office bright and early the next morning, probably with their lawyer in tow.

But yet, Mohammed’s parents are supposed to accept him being subjected to Christian prayers.  There is a time and a place for everything.  If you follow a certain religion, you and your children have every right to pray, but do it at home or do it at church … school is the place we send our children to learn, not to pray.

I would remind those evangelicals who would like to see mandatory prayer in schools that they have a number of options, including sending their children to a parochial school if they feel so strongly about their child praying at school.  What they don’t have is the right to force every other child in the classroom to listen to their child’s prayers.  Public schools are open to children of any or no faith.  Children are in school a maximum of eight hours a day … surely it isn’t impossible for them to go that long without vocal prayer?

I would also remind them that this is NOT a Christian nation, but rather a constitutionally-mandated secular nation where people of all religions are welcome, as are people who eschew any religion.  Religion is a personal thing … keep it personal, please … remember that our schools are funded by tax dollars paid by people of all and no denominations. school-prayer

34 thoughts on “Keep It Personal, Please

  1. It probably won’t happen simply because the Muslims and others who belong to religions outside of “the one true religion” are less militaristic about their belief, BUT … I truly wish one of them would take advantage of this ruling should it be put into effect. And then when the Christians scream … take it all the way to court!

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  2. Although GB is also a country in which Church and State are notionally separate (although the Monarch is also head of the established Church) it was the norm in my schooldays that every day began with the whole school gathered together for prayers. The small number of children back then whose parents espoused some religion other than Christianity were permitted to opt out of this and the “Scripture” lessons that were a part of the curriculum.
    I believe things are a bit different now that the country is much more diverse, especially in many urban areas. A current controversy concerns sex education (unheard of back then!) where religious extremists (in this case Islamic) object to their children being taught that same sex relationships are natural and acceptable when their religion teaches the opposite.

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    • It seems to me that the things that most divide people in this world, whether it be in my country, yours, or any other, is the bigotry and sheer arrogance that is put forth by religions … any and all religions. Every religion seems to believe that their ideologies and rituals are THE ONE AND ONLY right way of doing things, and those of us who don’t fit neatly into their little box are wrong. How many wars have been started because of religion? If there is a single thing that is preventing world peace, it is religion. I firmly believe children should not even be exposed to religion until they are at least old enough to question and reason and decide for themselves what makes sense and what doesn’t.

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  3. When I was in a small public school in the early 1950s the fifth-grade teacher passed out protestant Bibles and told us to choose verses to read. I felt odd about it. This should have never been allowed but the Superintendent and principal seemed not to know or care. There were few Catholics in that school district at the time. Parents should complain as is their right. Some Christians are quite pushy about it if they’re a majority. Some evangelicals even think Catholics, who are indeed Christians, are going to hell as they don’t believe the same things evangelicals do. I never said anything as some of the other students would have probably ganged up on me. It wasn’t worth it as far as I was concerned. I had enough friends to suit me. 😦 — Suzanne

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    • It has long been my belief that religion is the single biggest cause of most of the world’s problems. It certainly accounts for almost all of the racism and bigotry, has caused many of the wars throughout history, and is the single biggest divider of people that I can think of. To impose it on small children who lack the capacity to question or reason is an atrocity. Sigh.

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  4. Sunday School,a service every morning a grammar school, Church of England, Confirmation….. and now I’m a lapsed christian. Evangelism is utterly alien to the English way of thinking, we don’t promote our religeon so much here…. we leave that to the people who have their spiriitual home in Utah….
    Trump seems like such a weak fool, who only has his eye on the main chance. I feel sorry for the USA, especially as he will get a second term.
    Hugs and love Jill ❤ ❤ ❤
    Hot wiring cars! I want to date you ❤

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    • I’ve been an unbeliever since an early age … I figured out that since people had no answers for my questions, they were full of b.s. and it was all made up. But Jack … let’s not be too hasty to assume Trump will get a second term … please! Aw Jack … you just want me to teach you how to hot wire a car! I can’t do it anymore … all the electronic gizmos have made it impossible, I think. Hugs Jack ❤

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  5. Jill, there is a reason for the separation of church and state. Let’s extrapolate. Would an evangelical be OK with a Muslim student praying a few times a day? Would he or she be OK with a Jewish, Sikh, Buddhist or Hindu prayer?

    What about an Unitarian Universalist freely speaking about their leanings or an atheist espousing their thoughts to impressionable folks?

    There is a reason religion needs to be separate. Keith

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    • I absolutely agree! I’ve been disturbed for quite some time about some of the discriminatory changes Trump has made in the name of “religious freedom”, but when they start bringing religion into the public schools, influencing impressionable young minds, then I see red.

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      • Jill, this is issue gets to the heart of the matter that some think protection of rights means my rights are more important than yours. That is not how it is supposed to work. It also means if one’s rights infringe on another’s, then that is not appropriate either. Keith

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        • You are so right, my friend. Therein lies the problem … the reason religion is accountable for so many of the problems in the world today. Nearly every religion seeks to impose their own beliefs on all others, and to punish those who believe otherwise. The most glaring example today, of course, is how religions shun and attempt to punish the LGBT community. As you say, my rights end where they infringe on another’s. But, in all these thousands of years, we have not yet learned this, so I’ve rather lost hope that we ever will.

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  6. school is NOT the place for prayers. That is what a church, a synagogue, a mosque, a meeting house is for. We have that separation clause on purpose. One of Jefferson’s closest friends was a Jew. He didn’t want a national religion because it would alienate those of differing religions. Which would Trump consider anyway? The spaghetti bowl on the head guys?

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    • I agree 100%, Suze. But, I must admit you totally lost me with the “spaghetti bowl on the head guys”! I even tried Googling it and found only pictures of babies with spaghetti on their heads!

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    • Exactly. My views on religion are live and let live. Believe as you will, but don’t shove it down the throats of others, and especially not children who are in school to learn, not to be converted.

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  7. There is a certain amount of irony to be found in Trump’s statements on this year’s National Religious Freedom Day! This annual celebration stems from the January 16, 1786 adoption by the Virginia General Assembly of Thomas Jefferson’s “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom”. That statute became the basis for the First Amendment of the Constitution added in December 1791. Jefferson believed that God created the world and would be the final judge of man, but that God did not interfere in the affairs of men and that same God gave man the freedom to believe or not. Hence, he believed that there needed to be a “wall of separation between church and state”. It would seem that the boundaries between the separation of church and state have become quite flexible, depending upon the POTUS of the day! I find it highly doubtful that Trump’s interpretation of Thomas Jefferson’s Statute is quite what Thomas had in mind! Thank-you!

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    • No, in fact I think that any and all of the Founding Fathers would be absolutely horrified if they dropped back in today and saw the mockery Trump has made of the entire Constitution they worked so hard to craft. This is only one of the many parts he has trampled, but this one annoys the heck out of me for if Trump and his evangelical base had their way, it would take away the rights of some 90% of the people in this nation, myself included. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. Sigh.

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  8. They just don’t stop do they Jill? Here’s the thing though. Trump basically doesn’t give a rat’s you know what about religion. You know what he cares about? Getting reelected. That’s it. It’s not just religion either. Climate change..taxes…regulations…You name it. If he thinks it will help him, he’ll sign anything they give him. That’s why is so damm dangerous. Grrrrrrrr…. BTW, sent you another email. Take a look when you can. I’ll check back!

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    • No, they don’t. And this isn’t really even the worst of it, but the fact that it dealt with schools and young, impressionable minds made me see red. The changes he’s made to health care for LGBT people based on “religious freedom” and business owner’s ability to discriminate just sickens me. And you’re right … Trump has no religion, which is fine … but rather he will blow whichever direction his base asks him to. I am sickened every time I hear one of those damn evangelical fools say he was put in office by God. If I believed there was a God, I would surely hope he had better sense than to send Trump as an emissary!

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  9. Here in England there iis no separation between church and state. The Queen is head of state, and the head of the Anglican church. It’s been that way since the time of Henry VIII. Seems to work fairly well for us.
    Hugs Jill. 💖

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