Opinion: Christians Want to Stop Children From Praying to the God of Their Choice

Walter Rhein

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It always bothers me when people tell the lie that children aren’t allowed to pray at school. When you think about it, it’s a completely absurd thing to say.

There’s absolutely no way to stop a child from praying. We don’t have machines that can read minds. There’s no way to know what a student is thinking about.

Prayer has never been banned at school. The only thing that has been banned is forcing children to pray.

Christian nationalists often point to two Supreme Court cases from the 1960s, Engel v. Vitale and School District of Abington Township v. Schempp, to claim that the government “banned school prayer” or “took God out of the schools.” These are harmful misrepresentations. These cases didn’t ban the free exercise of Christian worship. They banned mandatory Bible readings and prayers written by the government. It should not be controversial to oppose government-dictated religious practice—Amanda Tyler

These two Supreme Court cases protect your children. It’s thanks to these cases that you don’t have to worry about a teacher sacrificing a chicken in class and drawing a pentagram on the floor in blood.

When people say “we need to bring prayer back to school” they are not considering the danger of prayer. Danger doesn’t even enter their thinking.

It’s dishonest to talk about prayer without being clear about what kind of prayer you mean.

We should all be able to agree that it’s inappropriate to indoctrinate children at a public institution with any religion. This isn’t “taking away” anything from the students. It is a way of protecting them.

Keep in mind that Satanism is recognized as a legitimate religion in the United States.

The Satanic Temple, which is featured in a documentary called “Hail Satan?,” announced this week that the IRS now recognizes it as a church—Menachem Wecker

So, all Americans must keep in mind that when people say “we need prayer in school” they could be talking about prayer from the Satanic Temple.

I assume most parents would object to a teacher standing in front of a classroom leading a chorus of “Hail Satan!"

To avoid this confusion, advocates for prayer in school need to be clear about the exact form of prayer they want.

Again, prayer has not been banned in school. Advocates for prayer in school are therefore not talking about silent, individual prayer to a deity of the student’s choosing.

Instead, advocates for prayer in school are calling for forced group Christian prayer.

There is so much freedom surrounding religious expression in schools that it’s bizarre that it’s even an issue.

Contrary to popular myth, the Supreme Court has never outlawed “prayer in schools.” Students are free to pray alone or in groups, as long as such prayers are not disruptive and do not infringe upon the rights of others. But this right “to engage in voluntary prayer does not include the right to have a captive audience listen or to compel other students to participate.” (This is the language supported by a broad range of civil liberties and religious groups in a joint statement of current law.)—IS IT LEGAL FOR STUDENTS TO PRAY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS?

The only thing that’s banned is being “disruptive” and “infringing on others’ rights.” Why do certain groups have a problem with that? Why are they dishonest about misrepresenting the issue?

Essentially, religious groups are not allowed to interrupt a lecture to force their classmates to participate in a religious ceremony.

We used to live in a nation where parents would respect teachers. If a student was failing a class, the parents would talk to that student about doing a better job. Today, parents go into schools and scream at the teacher. What happened to respect and accountability?

It’s also important to remember that children at public schools come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. While some rich kids can waste their time praying all day, children of humble means need to absorb the content of the classroom to have a better life.

Not every child sitting in a classroom has a cushy managerial position waiting at his daddy’s business. Some kids have to work for a living.

Perhaps the most upsetting element of this entire non controversy is that religious groups are betraying their own stated beliefs when they lie about a prayer ban in schools. God in his wisdom, saw the dangers of lying and the way it would hurt both the liar and the person being lied to. He wanted something better for us—Bible Verses About Liars - What Does the Bible Say?

Every time a religious groups says “prayer is banned at school” they are betraying their own religion by lying. They need to say “forcing kids to be indoctrinated by a religion not of their choosing is banned.”

It reflects poorly on religious groups that they don’t hold themselves to the standards of their own stated beliefs. I don’t want my children indoctrinated by these groups and the Supreme Court agrees with me.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI
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