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Prayer Left Schools and Its Not So Bad

I’m thinking/planning on submitting this to the local Sarnia newspaper in repsonse to all the poorly written letters lobbying for prayer to be brought back into the schools. Let me know what you think. If you think I should say something I’m not or take out something I shouldn’t say or any other comments.

With the vast amount of editorials lobbying for prayer to be back in schools I couldn’t help but to disagree. It made me cringe to know that us Christians were depending on government, school boards and people who don’t subscribe to their faith to bring back prayer into the schools. Why would a public school, a school that isn’t designated as a specific Christian school, bring back Christian prayer into the schools? Why would we even expect them too or be disappointed if/when they frown upon it? While I am a Christian, and I follow Jesus, I don’t believe that bringing ‘prayer back into the schools’ will do anything of value to our school system, our students or our city. At best, it will create a lot of grumpy students who are forced to say something that they don’t believe teaching them hypocrisy and that religion is just something you say.

It would only be fair, that if we were to bring Christian Protestant prayer back into the schools that we also allow for Catholic prayer, Muslim prayer and yes, even Satanic prayer to have their place within the school system. How many of us would stand for that kind of equality? I have a feeling that all we Christians are asking for when they want prayer back into the schools is for some sort of superior respect above all other religions in allowing us to have our sacred prayers brought into the schools. Why would Christians demand or even expect that their way of doing things should be allowed and even made a routine? Jesus said to expect persecution, suffering, being servants of all and to be in the face of regular culture standards. He did not say to get upset when the government goes the opposite way of what is comfortable to us and try to make our systems fit our religious needs the best. It makes no sense to expect a public school to act in a Christian manner. It makes no sense to expect a public school to bring prayer back, if that’s what we want, we should send our kids to a Christian school. If prayer being in the schools or not seriously affects the outcome of our students, or affects anything at all in the Christian world negatively than I think we have a lot more serious problems to think about than whether or not the kids are allowed to pray or not in school.

When prayer was removed from the schools I think that it worked to the Christians advantage, not against them. Forced prayer isn’t prayer anyway. Prayer that doesn’t change the one praying isn’t prayer either. When prayer left the schools it reminded the church that prayer is the Christian’s responsibility and not the governments. It made parents, Sunday school teachers and pastors teach the students what prayer really was, and it is a lot different than some recited sentences once a day or scenes in the smoking section. It made us rethink what prayer should look like, and rethink what Jesus meant when he said prayer shouldn’t be on the street corners making scenes but in our rooms in private. Christians, this is not a time to bring up the ‘if prayer should be in schools’ debate, because it’s a worthless cause. Instead, let’s teach people what it means to pray, even if that means not being seen at all. You don’t need to have your prayer mandated by schools or government, but you also don’t need to draw attention to yourself while praying.

15 Comments

  • It’s very comprehensive I thought. Are you intending this as an op-ed or just a letter? I ask because it’s probably too long for just a letter to the editor.

  • Good Point, I should ask how long it can be.

  • Nathan, I fall on the same side as you in this debate. Though I do seriously question the devide put up between sacred and secular, especially as it applies to public institutions. I do not think Canada’s situation is the same as, for example, France, where the state is explicitly secular. Could there be consideration of a separate time of prayer, alloted to people of all faiths, or those who espouse none, here in Canada?

  • There could be, but I think that’s almost what happened when ‘prayer was in the schools’ when we recited the Lord’s prayer before the day began, it was just 5 minutes of the day allotted to the Christian faith.

    I’m not saying that its bad to have prayer in school etc. but what surprise is it that its gone and why fight to have it back in?

  • Good thoughts Nate. The last comment by Kenny kinda brings up a point. A lot of workplaces and public areas have designated prayer rooms or quiet rooms for people of all faiths to go and pray, or just be silent. I think there are even schools who have a one minute of silence for people to pray before the day starts. But with regards to bringing any sort of prayer back into the public schools, here’s a ten foot pole.

    You could also in your article flip the situation. You mention how awkward it would be for eveyrone to recite from the Koran, or The Book of Mormon. Think of how funny it is to see kids forced to recite an hour’s worth of prayers from every freakin major religion in Canada. On second though, bring prayers back into public schools! It’ll be exactly like Catholic schools, without the dresscode.

  • * insert Could at “You mention how awkward…”

  • You are allowed 500 words. They are also allowed to edit as they see fit.

  • good letter. what’s funny is that there was a lot of sh&% going on even when prayer was in school. that’s what i don’t get. while prayer (and commandments on the courtroom wall for that matter) was in school we still wouldn’t let women vote. were champions of racism and class exclusion. it’s such a romanticized view that the world was such a better place when prayer was in schools and commandments were on walls.

  • Nathan you raise a lot of interesting points. I dont agree with forcing people to pray something they dont mean or understand but what I also disagree with is not allowing people to state what they believe. I know people have been debating the whole kid at st.clair getting suspended thing. Weather you agree or disagree with the decision it still brings up the issue of freedom of religion. Although they may be public schools last time I checked the “public” it is referring to is Canada and Canada was based on the superiority of God. So all things said, I dont agree with forcing kids to pray in school if they don’t want to,because that is just religion,but Jesus should be brought into the schools again with greater freedom for students and even teachers to voice their opinions and pray for their school. I heard an interesting quote a couple weeks ago that I think goes well with this “dont be surprised the darkness is so dark,be surprised the light isnt brighter”.

  • Tim,
    I’m certainly not against the freedom that you are talking about, I’m just saying I don’t think we should expect it nor try to force it. We are pretty much guarenteed by Jesus that we won’t have this freedom so why are we trying to fight for this kind of freedom so much.
    Jesus whole message was a message of spiritual freedom under Roman bondage, he never did come to free them from Roman bondage or government. That’s why i think Jesus message was so amazing, he preached freedom even in the constrains of slavery and bondage.

  • I don’t think we should “fight” to get specifically Christian prayer back in. I think prayer in general, the substance of many faiths, could be at the very least allowed, if not promoted. The tragedy for me is that these Christians are tarnishing the place of religion in public life, and in civil society in general, because they can’t accomodate the fact that we live in an increasingly diverse society. Anyways, hope your letters see the print!

  • A lot of interesting comments here, my concern about prayer in schools stems from Kierkegaard’s assertion that if you use the state to enforce religion you replace the fear of God with the fear of man.

    Tim G: As someone who is in teachers college and looking to pursue a career in the public system once I graduate, I can tell you that I’d be hesitant to weigh in on religious issues in the classroom (if that’s what you mean by your teachers comment). Teachers are authority figures, and to be advocates for one religion, it might make students uncomfortable.

    If my Muslim, Atheist, Jewish, Hindu, Agnostic, Buddhist, or Wiccan students feel uncomfortable coming to me for help on their school work, then I have failed them.

  • Just some interresting historical stuff.

    Puplic schools traditionally were actually Prodestant schools. That is not the case now but that is why there was the Lord’s Prayer in the first place. The Reason they are puplic schools today is that english people never saw the need to have enshrined in the constitution that we need protestant schools (they assumed it would always be the norm).

    As for seperation of sacred and secular we don’t have the same laws that the USA of france has. A teacher leagally could talk about their religous beliefs as long as they are not trying to negate the beliefs of others.

    I agree that mandatory prayer is kind of dumb, but that we should fight for the right to have spiritual practices observed by students and clubs at schools

  • Prayer is not mandatory!You do it if thats the way you beleive, if not than don’t do it, simple as that. there are people who want it back cause thats what the school s were first baste on. So if you go to a school that does it, just don’t do it. Its not fair to ruin everybody elses ways.

  • I see where your coming from however getting prayer back in school’s is for the best. Yes bringing prayer back will allow people with religion’s other than christianity to pray to their god’s but it also offers God’s protection over these schools and children as well as staff. Not to say that God isnt protectin them because there are many saints on their knees day and night praying for these souls. Even more the bible says acknowledge him in all your ways and he will direct your path, teach a child to walk in righetousness and when he grows he will never depart from me. In this being said even the smallest acknowledgement to God in schools will decrease gang violence, school murders, sexual activity in school, the spirits of anger, harassment, depression, suicide, and other behaviors and spirits that come from the prince of this world.

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