Monday, April 16, 2012

Be Careful What you Pray For

"Order in the court. Mrs. Smith you've asked this court to issue a restraining order to stop prayer in your children’s public school. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t your organization just sue the school system and petition Congress to allow prayer and the posting of the 10 Commandments in public school? You got Congress and the courts to approve school prayer back in 2013 after the election. Now you want it stopped? This is all much too confusing. You people need to make up your minds."
"Things have changed, your Honor."
"I guess they have. I remember back in the mid 1990's when this movement really got started. Good people like you from small towns wanted a return to what they believed was a more traditional American society. You wanted God put back into your lives and the lives of your children."
"Your Honor, all we wanted was a little simple prayer in the morning and at graduation, football games, and a manger scene at Christmas, maybe a few Christmas carols."
"I know, Mrs. Smith. 'In God We Trust', and a general misreading of some of the Founding Fathers; I know all of that. It sounded so good, and the pressure was so great, that even the Supreme Court was swayed. They gave you what you wanted. They allowed you to put God back into the public school system."
"It was great. We went back to Christmas pageants.  We even had a brief prayer before class in the morning. We went back to traditional American values. "
“Wasn’t there a problem with the Ten Commandments?”
“Well, we found out with 'End-of-Year' testing that most 4th and 8th graders couldn’t read them, but we’re working on that.”
"It was nice for a while, wasn't it?"
"Yes it was, Judge. What happened?"
"The same thing that happens every time we invite the Supreme Court, or pandering public officials, to craft social policy and define some societal truths that we thought were simple and self-evident. The truth is that we often find out that they aren't very simple or self-evident."
"All we wanted was a simple prayer. Was that too much to ask?"
"No, not too much, just too difficult. Our society is too diverse. We have a history of religious tolerance that is one of the basic cornerstones of American society. We welcome and allow all beliefs. The court knew that and therefore couldn't define God. The money says 'In God We Trust', it just doesn't say what God or whose God.  The God I trust may be very different from the God you trust. The God my bailiff trusts may be very different still, and he carries a gun. Once the court allowed God back into the classroom there was no way that it could limit entry to the traditional Protestant God."
"It didn't last long."
"Right. I remember in 2014 when the Jewish students sued because of the continuous references to Christ. They pointed out that they're students and tax-payers just like the Christian students and their beliefs don't include Christ. Was it right to exclude them, insult them or make them feel uncomfortable in a public school where they paid taxes too?"
"No, of course not. We changed the prayers to add them."
"I know you did, and that started the landslide that brings us to this court today. You added a Hebrew prayer to the end of the Christian prayer and most of the Christians and Jews were happy. Then the flood started. You see, Mrs. Smith, there are almost as many religious beliefs as there are children in the school. If you're going to tolerate and support one, then you have to give equal time to all of the others. If we just recognized the Christian or Jewish faiths that would be “establishing” a religion and the Constitution will not allow that. So, the Baha'i added their prayers. The Hindu student added one. Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims and Shinto wanted some representation. That wasn't that bad, the morning prayer only lasted about 2 hours. The real problem came when the different Christian denominations started lobbying for time. The basic Presbyterian prayer was not sufficient for the Seventh Day Adventist. The Mormons wanted time and the Episcopalians, not to be left out, wanted a brief homily. Jehovah’s Witnesses objected to the manger scene and Baptists aren't real comfortable with public displays of the crucifix. The Catholics wanted instruction in the rosary and the Pentecostalists objected that there wasn't enough time spent on the influence of the Holy Ghost. Once we let God back in it was hard to pick what form He or She should take. The new prayers added more time to the day, and more days to the year, than snow did, but you got what you asked for. So, in short, Mrs. Smith, your request for a restraining order is denied."
"Your’re saying that we have to let in the Southern Reformed Evangelical Snake Handlers?"
"That's right."
"Do my children have to touch the snakes?"
"I'll call the Supreme Court and find out. Bailiff call the next case, Rastafarians For The Religious Use of Marijuana In Study Hall vs. The School Board.

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