Responding to “Time to Bring Prayer Back In Schools”

The letter below is written in response to this letter in which Shaun Antle responds to my letter on prayer in schools.

To Shaun, and all that support his letter.
I’m going to try and go through your letter and point out a few things. First, I’m not sure what you mean by “many Christians.” Are you claiming that you are speaking on behalf of these many Christians? Does this make the point more valid? I could write “many Christians” in my letter too, because a large number of people e-mailed me or left a comment after writing my letter that agreed with me for the most part.

You say that prayer and bible reading is no different than reading events that have occurred in history. I think you should think twice about that, cause it doesn’t seem to give much credit to how Jesus looks at prayer. If you were at a school where every single morning all the people around you were reading religious material from The Koran you can’t tell me you would feel comfortable, especially if you were at a public school where no one was to be favoured. If prayer is no different than simply reciting history, I would suggest that you have a wrong understanding of prayer. However, I would assume that you think prayer is a lot more than mere historical recitations, and that you were just using that argument to try and make it look harmless.

First of all, the dates that you provided in 1962/63 were dates when prayer was no longer sanctioned by the government in the United States, not in Canada. We live in Canada. Canada’s situation is extremely different especially because of the Catholic school system. Are you going to show us these statistics and where you got them from or are you just going to state that they are there? Let me give you an analogy that I heard from a man named Gregory Koukl. The rooster crows, and then the sun comes up. Does this mean that the rooster crowing causes the sun to come up? If we went and killed the rooster would we all be living in darkness? Just because one thing happens, doesn’t mean that it causes whatever follows. Just because crime rates have gone up and all those are statistics, doesn’t mean it is a result of prayer leaving the schools. I’ll say this again. If the best way to fix all these problems is to bring back prayer into schools, then I think we have larger issues at stake. If we think that all this is happening because students aren’t reciting a prayer at the beginning of every morning, I think its time we evaluate what our faith is based on. All we will get if we bring back prayer into schools the way you argue for at best is students believing that a mention of some special deity is enough to make them ‘ok’ or in right standing with God.

You ask “how being a “Christian” I can say that prayer should not be put into the public schools.” Does this really have any relevance in regards to my commitment to Christ? Jesus did do all kinds of things in public. However, you show me one place where He told people to pray something they didn’t believe. Or show me where He asked his disciples to get the Roman Government to traditionalize his prayers and make them a mandatory start to every day. Please show me how Jesus doing miracles in public has any sort of relevance to the government mandating prayer in schools.

For God to have dominion, He does not need to be forced on kids in school. What you are suggesting is for Christians to use secular means to get across their own agendas. If you want God to have dominion, I suggest you write another letter to Christian parents that teach their kids how to pray and be Christians even when their school doesn’t make them do it. Or how about writing a letter to the church that shows them that they don’t need to have special status in the schools (while making all other religions feel inferior) to be doing their job in following Christ.

I would be with you to encourage people to look at all the things that have happened in Sarnia with people getting their lives together in Sarnia. Doesn’t it make you smile that it is happening without prayer being in the schools? Do you think there is some sort of block up now that we can’t go any further until prayer is re-instated? There has always been this other section at St. Clair that you speak of, it’s called the Christian Fellowship group. Why do you make comparisons of the smoking section and a “Christian” section? What is this section where people “can turn their lives around and walk away from school with a better attitude and better grades?” If you want to follow Jesus; I think that He would be hanging out in the smoking section with everyone, lighting up a cigarette and talking to the students about their day at school.

11 Comments

  • Well put Nate. I think you nailed the whole issue on the head with the rooster analogy. I mean, just because prayer was taken out of school surely doesn’t mean that this is why crimes have risen.

    I could go as far as even saying that, if prayer was required, still, to be done in schools then violence and hate crimes would skyrocket. I mean look at all the people that would be angry about having to pray everyday. In our society, people would look at the Christians to blame and they’d be persecuted even more. I could definitely see this as being an issue. We’d, most likely, have other religions angry at Christianity because Christians get the right to in public schools where as Muslim, Buddhist, and other religion’s prayer is not allowed. I honestly think that this would be posing a bigger problem, not just for Christians because they’re getting persecuted, but also having to answer to the reason behind forcing prayer. All Christians would be getting blamed for the actions of a few “militant Christians” who demanded, and got, prayer to be required back.

    I mean, I think that if I was constantly being blamed for forcing others to pray without equal rights, I would be ashamed to be a Christian. Flat-out. Think about it, I don’t agree with this forced prayer then how opt I seem to share my faith? How do you think others would respond to the message of Jesus if they are being forced to pray every morning? I don’t think that they’d be very receptive. I think that this would hinder the impact that I and other Christians can make greatly. I think Nate was right for the most part with his article, although, I did have a few disagreements, which you can read at my site NotABlogproject.com

    However, Shaun I think you did take a cheap jab at Nathan. Just because you disagree with him doesn’t mean he’s not a Christian. “Many Christians” would agree with me on that one.
    Gordie Hannan

  • Though I am at times a fundamentalist myself, I think Shaun missed an opportunity to say something good by filling an editorial with what he did chose to say.

    Nathan, your point that Christians shouldn’t be trying to use a secular means to get people to pray was well said. It’s absurd to think that the church is in need of a contract deal with a bunch of teachers, who may or may not even be followers of Christ, to encourage our children and to model prayer to them. This whole necessity of institutionalized prayer is the kind of thing that David Fitch is always talking about. Let the church do the work of the church instead of passing it off to a secular school.

    You are generally good about criticism, so I’d like to offer something that I hope is constructive. Shaun used more than his fair share of logical fallacies in that editorial, which I think destroys whatever credibility he could have had, and therefore I doubt anyone would really consider his argument with substantial seriousness. In your response to Shaun, it comes across as though you’ve lost your cool a little at the hands of someone who made an ignorant comment to feel like a hero of the faith or something. I don’t think you have reason to get offended by his article, because it lacks substance of any kind. Responding more objectively would serve better serve the truth.

    Media is an interesting thing.

    .:CRAIG:.

  • Hey Craig, thanks for your comment. I did go back through it and I tried to eliminate any place where it looked like I was taking offence or reacting poorly to what he said and changed or deleted it. I wanted to respond directly to him and not just a general letter in this case (however, i think that responding objectively in other circumstances definitely would have been a better choice….cough cough the revival)

    thanks for commenting.

  • My $0.02 on the part of the pro-forced prayer argument that troubles me most:

    I get tired of this story about how crime went up as prayer in schools ended. By 1963 the oldest baby boomers were turning 18. Young people commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Hmmm…

    Can we please lay this “Prayer was taken out of (US) schools and everything bad happened after that” argument to rest?

  • Nathan, great response. The seeming lack of any respect for the nature of cause and effect – especially when dealing with cultural phenomenon – among Christians frustrates me to no end!

  • Jesus lighting up a cigarette? Really?

  • Well said Nathan.

    BTW not only is the “loss of prayer=more crime” silly it isn’t reflected in trends either.

    The US has been in the one of the most remarkable declines in violent crime in the past century. The guys that wrote Freakonomics looked at the hard stats (instead of the anecdotal evidence) and came up with their own controversial theory for the decline.

  • Maybe not a cigarette but certainly a fine cuban cigar.

  • Nathan – although I agree for the most part of what you said, the part I had the most trouble with was how it sounded like you were on the defensive. It sounded a bit arguementative to me. It’s probably just because you are so passionate about it.

  • McDLT
    I think your right, i probably was a bit too defensive looking back on it. Sometimes i feel like i act defensive when people are looking christianity look dumb, illogical or inconsistent, and i feel like i need to defend it or something. It wasn’t really defending the fact that i am right, probably more offensive of the fact that i think he is wrong and making a bad name for other people that follow the same God. Thanks for pointing it out, its def something I need to work on.

    Elle.
    Yes lighting up a cigarrette. And What jeremy said above.

  • I got to hang out it with Switchfoot yesterday in downtown Sarnia watching the footie match at a pub with my Dad.

    I bought them a drink and vise versa. I then gave them cheers saying “its people like you why I left my church, thank you!” They really liked my Dad and gave him tickets to the show. It was a good Day.

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