One of the folks on my “friends” keeps sending out to this Hippie e-mail about “putting God back in America”.
You have no idea how hard it to refrain from responding with “I don’t know where YOUR God went, but MINE never left.”
I know some people think that for “God to be in the country”, we need all kinds of public displays of “piety”. These displays should include, but would not be limited to all the little children reciting a Pledge with the word “god” in it, and there being school endorsed, promoted, public prayer in public schools.
I think I posted early on in my blog my problems with (and an alternative to) having children reciting mindlessly any sort of Pledge….wuth refrences to the Divine or not.
But most people are surprised when I tell them I am opposed to “School Prayer”….
“How can you, a Christian, be opposed to prayer in the pub;ic schools??!!!??”
“How can you, a Christian, be for it when Jesus clearly condemed that kind of prayer?”
“Where did you come up with THAT?”
“The Bible…particularly the Gospels of Matthew and Luke..you otta try reading them sometime. Jesus had some specific thinhs to say about how and when His followers should pray…”
Well I think you must be taking something out of context, or reading what you wamt to into His words, or….
Okay…this is one more of those cases that Bible literalists decide that that the text isn’t to be taken literally… but let’s leave that arguement alone for now…
Thjere are some practical reasons a “believer” should be more than hesitant to push for “School Prayer”, and the following certainly should help to make that clear:
Letter from Juan (author unknown)
JUAN NINGUNO, and old preacher-friend of mine from days past, sent me a letter not long ago. His letters are always fantastic (in the sense of the primary meaning of that word). I never know when I’ll hear from Juan. He moves around a lot – mostly in almost forgotten places where I myself have journeyed. This letter was sent from Nevada. Allow me to share it with you:
As you know, we’ve been working real hard in our town to get prayer back in the schools. Finally, the school board approved a plan of teacher-led prayer with the children participating at their own option. Children not wishing to participate were to be allowed to stand out in the hallway during the prayer time. We hoped someone would sue us so we could go all the way to the Supreme Court and get that old devil-inspired ruling reversed.
Naturally, we were all excited by the school board’s action. As you know, our own little Billy (not so little, any more, though) is now in the second grade. Of course, Margaret and I explained to him no matter what the other kids did, he was going to stay in the classroom and participate.
After the first day of school, I asked him, “How did the prayer time go?”
“Did many kids go out into the hallway?”
“Excellent. How did you like your teacher’s prayer?”
“It was different, Dad. Real different from the way you pray.”
“Oh? Like how?”
“She said, ‘Hail, Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners…'”
The next day I talked with the principal. I politely explained I wasn’t prejudice against Catholics but I would appreciate Billy being transferred to a non-Catholic teacher. The principal said it would be done right away.
At supper that evening I asked Billy to say the blessings. He slipped out of his chair, sat cross-legged on the floor, closed his eyes, raised his hands palms up and began to hum.
You’d better believe I was at the principal’s office at eight o’clock the next morning. “Look,” I said. “I don’t really know much about these Transcendental Meditationists, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if you could move Billy to a room where the teacher practices and older, more established religion.'”
That afternoon I met Billy as soon as he walked in the door after school.
“I don’t think your going to like Mrs. Nakasone’s prayer, either, Dad.”
“Out with it.”
“She kept calling God ‘O Great Budda…'”
The following morning I was waiting for the principal in the school parking lot. “Look, I don’t want my son praying to the Eternal Spirit of whatever or to Buddha. I want him to have a teacher that prays in Jesus’ name!”
“What about Bertha Smith?”
I could hardly wait to hear about Mrs. Smith’s prayer. I was standing on the front steps of the school when the final bell rang.
“Well?” I asked Billy as we walked towards the car.
“Mrs. Smith asked God to bless us and ended her prayer in Jesus name, amen – just like you.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. “Now we’re getting some place.”
“She even taught us a verse of scripture about prayer,” said Billy.
I beamed. “Wonderful. What was the verse?”
“Let’s see…” he mused for a moment. ” ‘And behold, they began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling him their Lord and their God.'”
We had reached the car. “Fantastic,” I said, reaching for the door handle. Then I paused. I couldn’t place the scripture. “Billy, did Mrs. Smith say what book that verse was from?”
“Third Nephi, chapter 19, verse 18.”
“Nephi,” he said, “It’s in the Book of Mormon.”
The school board doesn’t meet for a month. I’ve given Billy very
definite instructions that at prayer time each day he’s to go out into the hallway. I plan to be at that board meeting. If they don’t do something about this situation, I’ll sue. I’ll take it all the way to the Supreme Court if I have to. I don’t need the schools or anybody else teaching my son about religion. We can take care of that ourselves at home and at church,
thank you very much.
Give my love to Sandi and the boys.
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