I was dropping my son off at Pre-School this morning and one of the other parents had a car with a bumper sticker that said something along the lines of, “Dear God, why do you allow so much violence in schools? I’m not allowed in schools. – God”
This bothers me for many reasons. First of which is the fact that my son goes to a small Pre-School and shares the class with a kid whose parent thinks this is such an awesome bumper sticker that she had to put it on her car. Unfortunately, we live in a world filled with people who think schools deserve violence because people are tolerant of others. What a horrible message!
Second, it is factually not true. God is allowed in schools. His absence from schools isn’t that administrators won’t let him in; it is because he doesn’t actually exist.
In all seriousness, the bumper sticker is trying to make the argument against the landmark 1963 Supreme Court case, Abington School District v. Schempp which held that public school sponsored Bible readings were unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The key word here is “sponsored.” Any child can pray to any deity they choose freely in a non-disruptive fashion.
No one is forbidding prayer in school. Only school sponsored prayer is forbidden. In other words, you can pray silently to Zeus, Allah, Jesus, or Thor before a test if you think it will help you — for the record, it won’t — but a teacher or faculty member can’t force or lead the entire class to pray their particular deity or any deity.
In other words, the purpose of the bumper sticker is misguided in that it is arguing against a problem that doesn’t actually exist. “God,” as in school prayer, is allowed in public schools as long as it is done by students in a non-disruptive fashion. Still there is a serious problem with school violence and prayer isn’t going to solve that problem. In fact, religious bigotry is often the underlining cause of that problem.
When children are bullied, they often feel detached from the school and their peers. While there is no excuse for violence, eliminating the culture of bullying within schools would dramatically cut down on violence in schools. There is a group of people who preach that anyone who differs from their idea of moral purity will be and ought to be tortured for all eternity in Hell. They tend to bully gays, atheists, those of other religious views, and anyone else who doesn’t fit their ridged view of piety. Who could they be? I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that perhaps they are the children of religious fundamentalists?
These people love to use the persecuted card as a tool to bully and persecute others. For example, by inaccurately claiming that God has been forced out of public schools, they are attempting to force everyone to pray to their God in their way. They want to turn their prayers into a
show spectacle for everyone to see and for those of other religions or no religion to feel uncomfortable and force religious conformity to the majority – which just so happens to be Christianity.
But just you wait, the moment a non-Christian prayer or invocation is sponsored by a public school official or faculty member, Christian heads will explode. In their mind, prayer is school is great as long as it is their prayer to their deity. Just you wait bu when it is a Satanist, a Hindu, a Scientologist, or an invocation from any other religion or non-religious alternative that is sponsored in the same way, they will be up in arms demanding that they are being persecuted because their children were allowed to listen to it. Yet they have no problems with other people’s children being forced to listen to their religious prayers.