Opinion: I Believe Exposure to Any Form of Prayer Is Extremely Harmful to Children

Walter Rhein

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As a parent, I have a right to know what kind of information my children are exposed to at school. My children have a right to receive a basic education without being exposed to the “Christian agenda” or the agenda of any other religion.

I think it’s important that we respect the beliefs of all parents and that includes my beliefs. I believe that all religions teach lies that are ultimately harmful to children. I think the idea of a divine “creator” is an absurd superstition that is nothing more than a leftover from the dark ages.

I feel I have a right to speak these beliefs openly and without the threat of persecution.

I believe there’s evidence that people who spent a good deal of their time in worship end up making poor decisions in other aspects of their life.

Recently, there has been a disturbing increase in the “Christian nationalism” movement. People who believe in this movement insist that the Founding Fathers based the laws of our nation on Christian beliefs. I don’t believe that is an accurate thing to say.

Some radical politicians have even gone so far as to denounce the separation of church and state. If the media is going to lend credibility to that viewpoint by covering it, then the media has an obligation to give equal time to the opposing view.

The opposing view is that religion is an absurd superstition that has no place in modern society. Making that statement isn’t a call for a ban. It’s merely a statement of opinion. I personally don’t respect religion and I don’t respect the people who claim to live by religious beliefs.

If people lived by their religious beliefs, they would read the above paragraph and peacefully accept my viewpoint. However, in my experience, that’s not what is going to happen. I’m more likely to be subjected to insults and even threats for my position on religion.

So much for love and tolerance right?

We live in a society where people feel no reluctance to make absurd statements about vaccines. The media often lends credibility to people who believe there is a connection between vaccines and autism even though there is no scientific basis for that belief.

It’s hypocritical that our society is open to the viewpoints of people who spread lies about vaccines but it doesn’t allow other groups to express their concerns about religion.

Citizens of the United States of America are free to believe whatever they want. If I wish to believe that religion is an outdated and harmful superstition, that’s my right. Nobody has a right to become angry about my beliefs or try to pressure me to change my beliefs. My viewpoint should not be censored from schools. Nobody has a right to insult me or threaten me with violence.

I think it’s time that all American citizens recognized the inherent violence of the “Christian agenda.”

It seems like there is always more pressure to force children to participate in government-mandated prayers at school. I am entirely opposed to that position. I believe the only appropriate viewpoint at schools is to recognize that some people believe in religion, and some people believe religion is a dangerous and outdated superstition.

Both viewpoints are completely acceptable.

I think it’s entirely wrong that schools adopt the policy that students must be respectful of all religions. That policy infringes on the rights of all students to denounce religious beliefs that they don’t agree with.

Our society needs to adopt a more responsible attitude toward religion. Too often, religious ideals are forced onto people who don’t want anything to do with them. We all have a right to stand up and say, “Enough!”

If you want to believe some ridiculous story about a talking bush, you can go right ahead and do that. However, I’m under no obligation to respect that you think pure fantasy is real. Those of us who recognize the danger of religion have to learn to be more vocal about expressing our concerns.

In the United States of America, we’re allowed to believe whatever we want as long as our beliefs don't cause harm to others. I believe that many religious beliefs are awful, ignorant, and abusive. That belief is protected by the words the Founding Fathers wrote in the Constitution. There are no constitutional protections for sending physical threats in response to my beliefs.

Our society needs to be more honest about the fact that nobody has any obligation to respect anyone else's religious beliefs, much less be forced to live by them.

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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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