Mississippi tries end run around the First Amendment by sneaking prayer into schools

Mississippi always ranks poorly among American states: close to the poorest in education, at the top in religiosity, and home of America’s most obese people.  It’s also conservative and largely Republican. The combination of religiosity and conservatism has led to one of the stupidest things I’ve seen states do to circumvent the Constitutional First Amendment barring public endorsement of religion. No, it’s not cheerleaders holding up signs with Bible verses on them—it’s an official bill to allow prayer in the public schools. The New York Times reports:

Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi has long wanted children to pray at public schools. This week, with his grandmother’s worn Bible on his desk, he signed a bill that gets him closer to that goal.

The new law requires public schools to develop policies that will allow students to pray over school intercoms, at assemblies and at sporting events.

While not allowing school-sanctioned prayer, the law permits students to offer public prayers with a disclaimer by the school administration. “You might put on the program that this is not a state-sanctioned prayer if a prayer does break out at a football game or graduation,” Mr. Bryant said.

Although the state is not in the business of establishing religion, he said, “we are about making sure that we protect the religious freedoms of all students and adults whenever we can.”

. . . Under the law, Mississippi school districts would have to follow guidelines allowing a “limited public forum” at school events for students to express religious beliefs. For example, the districts must include a disclaimer that says the students’ prayers do not reflect an endorsement or sponsorship by the district.

But that still exposes children who might not share the religious views of the students expressing themselves, said Bear Atwood, legal director of the Mississippi A.C.L.U.

“People never think, what if it’s a different religious prayer than my child’s faith?” she said.

That’s just one lie after another, and everyone knows it.  This is a state-sponsored program to bring prayer into schools. Individuals are already allowed to pray in schools on their own, but there cannot be prayers over the intercoms or assemblies, or mass prayers at sporting events. Those violate the Constitution. Even a bill requiring schools to develop policies allowing prayer is, to my mind, unconstitutional. If students can pray on their own, why try to make this official policy?

As the Times reports, there has been a spate of these bill lately, all meant to circumvent a 2000 Supreme Court ruling that Texas students could not utter prayers over the public-address system during high school football games. What an affront! So here’s the response:

Lawmakers in South Carolina this year introduced legislation that would allow for prayer during a mandatory minute of silence at the start of the school day, provided that students who do not want to hear the prayer can leave the classroom.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Last year, Florida approved a bill to allow students to read inspirational messages at assemblies and sporting events, which prompted groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Mr. Conn’s organization to send letters to every school district in the state threatening legal action if the law was put into practice.

UNCONSTITUTIONAL

In Missouri, voters in 2012 approved a constitutional amendment that gives residents the right to “pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools,” and in Virginia this year, State Senator Bill Stanley has introduced a similar amendment.

CONSTITUTIONAL so long as the prayers are private and not foisted on other students.

For those who claim that “moderate” religion is fine, realize that most of the people behind these bills are not fundamentalists, but just devout people. Yet they can’t resist foisting their beliefs on others.  If you feel you have the absolute truth, and those who ignore it are damned, then of course you’ll want to trumpet those truths over loudspeakers and public address systems.

And you’ll also make up phony excuses why you have to do it:

In the days after the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, who is a minister, advocated school prayer.

“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” he said in a television interview. “Should we be surprised that schools would become places of carnage?”

h/t: Don

95 Comments

  1. krzysztof1
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Public schools are not the place for prayer. The people who push this sort of thing are dishonest. They want THEIR religion (Christianity, and their brand if possible) to permeate every aspect of life, like yeast in bread. I think in their hearts they know that is wrong, and that’s why they don’t say it. But they really want it anyway. Religious people band together so they can bolster each others’ prejudices. They don’t like a secular environment because its very existence is a threat to their beliefs–contagion!

  2. gbjames
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I wish I could live in a country that wasn’t so, well frankly… stupid. It is depressing.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      and sub.

      • Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Depth charges away!

        /@

      • Dave
        Posted March 17, 2013 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        Why do you keep doing that, BTW?

        • gbjames
          Posted March 17, 2013 at 7:17 am | Permalink

          So that I get comments sent to me. If you want the email, you have to submit a comment AND check the “Notify me…” check box. Submit a comment without the check, and you need to do it again. And if you have nothing else to say, “sub” works fine. One could put an “x” there. But that would look weird I think. One could write a complete explanation, “I’m leaving this meaningless comment so that…” but that gets dull after a while. Ant manages to use a fancy glyph (“§” or something) for this purpose, but I can never remember the keyboard equivalents for such things when I need them.

          • Diane G.
            Posted March 17, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

            *quells Word Press rant*

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted March 17, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

              Quelled in every way but the mentioning… :)

              (From one who often would do well to bite his tongue and quell quell quell…)

          • Posted March 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

            & yet you found it this time! “§” (the subsection symbol, but here the subscribe symbol!) is “above” the “&” on an iPad & top-left on an iMac. Not sure re other OSs/hardware.

            /@

            • Jeff Johnson
              Posted March 17, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

              I found that option+6 gives ‘§’ on my Mac bluetooth keyboard. On iPad, holding the finger down on ‘&’ for about a second pops up the hidden alternate ‘§’ button. It took me several months using iPad before I accidentally stumbled onto that trick (and a bit longer to realize that double-tap on shift gives shift lock). The pitfalls of not reading all the doc.

              • gbjames
                Posted March 17, 2013 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

                What is this “reading the doc” you speak of?

              • Posted March 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

                That’s what I meant by “‘above’ the ‘&’”.

                I stumbled across it, too. My wife discovered the double-tap caps-lock before I did.

                Really, Apple doesn’t provide such detailed end-user docs. It’s all about self-discovery and community.

                (Tip: To take a screenshot on an iPad, hold down the power and home buttons simultaneously. You should hear a shutter sound. The picture will be in you photo album.)

                /@

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted March 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

                There is documentation, but its all online.

                The stuff we talked about is in Basics->Entering Text

                http://help.apple.com/ipad/6/

              • gbjames
                Posted March 17, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

                Easier to type “sub” and enjoy the clever repartee!

              • Posted March 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

                Ah… I don’t recall ever seeing that cited in the leaflet in the box.

                (Where is the documentation about getting online? ;-))

                /@

            • gbjames
              Posted March 17, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

              No, I still don’t know how to keyboard that character… I used a character utility and copy/pasted. Way too complicated for regular use!

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted March 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

                Oh, “reading the doc”, it’s a bizarre ritual that silly computer and software manufacturers expect customers to waste their time with. To think that some stranger or UN bureaucrat can presume to tell you the correct way to use your computer equipment! The nerve. I’d much rather exercise my digital sovereignty and discover things the hard way, bit by bit, accidentally, on my own, at seemingly random intervals. :)

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 10:46 am | Permalink

      I really did lie awake last night because of that. I wonder if my children will ever experience another kind of America?

      • SA Gould
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        Just today, I had a 20yr old out from the auto club to jump start my car. And, he and his grandfather have a weapons arsenal, including a crossbow pistol, to ward off (among other threats), the Zombie Apocalypse. I thought he might be kidding, so I said “You know there are no real zombies, right?”

        He said “I respectfully disagree, ma’am” and wanted to tell me about how they were created with “bath salts” and…

        Conspiracy theories surrounding aliens, bigfoot and Nessie, I can see the appeal, as you never have to actually find them, the legend continues!) But…zombies?? By definition, you have to have whole bunches of them.

        What can you even SAY to that???

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 16, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

          Stupid and armed. The American way! U.S.A.!

          *shudder*

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted March 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

          Well, he may have been out there, but at least he was polite about it. ;)

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      maybe you should take a leaf out of the book of a Louisiana policeman and just state your State which I would guess is one of the more rational ones.
      A grandson of a friend during his “gap year” did a bit of travelling in the States. Foolishly, he tried to separate the combatants in a bar in New Orleans. He and the fighting pair were lifted by the police. He spent six hours in a cell before the sergeant (or whatever he’s called) checked things out and released him. the youth said I can’t believe this could happen to a British citizen in America. The cop replied – “Boy, this ain’t America, this is Louisiana”!!

      • gbjames
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        My state is Wisconsin. Once it was known as a progressive place. I used to look down at the sad social environments of Texas, Louisiana, and such. I learned my lesson after we succumbed to Tea Party control of Scott Walker and his Republican god-bots.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

          Pride goeth . . .

          • gbjames
            Posted March 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            That thought has occurred to me.

        • Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

          I still shake my head over the Randroid Ron Johnson unseating Fiengold…did you see their debate? Makes you want to cry…

          • gbjames
            Posted March 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

            It makes me crazy.

        • Dave
          Posted March 17, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

          You think you got problems. Over here, next door, Michele Bachmann is poking her head out of her winter burrow and … talking!

      • Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        Well, my own sister told me she was stopped in England, and the constable gave the reason as “political check”.

        ….whatever the heck that is, but she was agog.

        She should have resorted to “we’re not foreigners, we’re Americans!!”

      • Gary W
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

        I don’t really understand your complaint. Was it clear that your friend’s grandson was just trying to “separate” the two men who were fighting, and was not actually involved in the fight himself? Because it seems to me that if the police come across three men involved in a physical altercation in a bar, that might not be clear at all. In fact, it would probably look like all three of them were fighting. So it doesn’t surprise me at all that the police would detain all three of them. You then say that the grandson couldn’t believe this could happen “to a British citizen in America.” Say what? He thinks he should be immune from the law because he’s British?

        • Jeff Johnson
          Posted March 17, 2013 at 12:39 am | Permalink

          One could certainly expect the police to not understand what is going on at first glance. But it shouldn’t require too much time talking and listening to witnesses to get the basic facts.

          Perhaps if you spent six hours in a jail cell before having a chance to explain the situation, what the problem is here would dawn on you.

          • Veroxitatis
            Posted March 17, 2013 at 3:32 am | Permalink

            I intended no inference about his being locked up nor do I think he should have expected special treatment because of his nationality. I don’t know the boy well and I am not taking sides. The whole point of the story was to point out to gbjames in a humourous way that it might be better to focus on the State you live in rather than the USA generally.

    • Gary W
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      I wish I could live in a country that wasn’t so, well frankly… stupid.

      I wish you didn’t have such a distorted view of the country you live in.

      • gbjames
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        I’m sorry, I must respect the policy which prevents me wasting time responding to you.

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted March 17, 2013 at 12:58 am | Permalink

        It doesn’t seem distorted at all. For an elected Governor to be so lacking in understanding at the high school civics level of the First Amendment and how it protects religious freedom by preventing a religious majority from using the force of law to foist its beliefs on individuals and religious minorities is stupid, and quite frankly, embarrassing.

        It’s stupid that we have to fight to teach real science in science classes, and that school boards are often run by people that think scientific facts are matters of personal opinion. It’s stupid that oil company propaganda and slick marketing is more influential with a certain segment of the population than the results of meticulously vetted and painstakingly assembled scientific data and analysis on climate change. And the stupid that plagues the nation most is quite visibly on display this week at CPAC. It is because of widespread stupidity that we have to fight endless battles with that morally and mentally challenged gang of anti-intellectual political vandals.

        • Don
          Posted March 17, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

          Yep.

        • Diane G.
          Posted March 17, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

          Hear, hear!

        • skepticook
          Posted March 18, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

          Wishing you could live in a country that wasn’t so stupid implies that you can’t. Why not? I would suggest the answer is that there isn’t one. Every country lacks something you desire. Imho, too many posts here lead to too many comments that bash the U.S. and I think the reason might be that so many Americans subscribe to this web site, not that other places don’t have problems of their own. We are all more likely to be aware of, and thus comment on, what’s wrong in our own neighborhood.

          • gbjames
            Posted March 18, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

            So we shouldn’t complain?

            I know that other countries are in many cases worse than my home. So what? I’m particularly interested in the insanity in my neighborhood because I live here and feel it most directly. It seems a pretty damned good reason to object, imo.

            • skepticook
              Posted March 18, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

              I didn’t say you shouldn’t complain. At times though, I’ve tried to look at the comments here from the perspective of someone from another country who, maybe, has never been here. At times we make the U.S. look like the most idiotic, mean spirited place on the planet. I don’t think it is and I feel uncomfortable leading people from elsewhere into picturing this country in only the most negative light. This bill in Mississippi isn’t going to become law because it is blatantly unconstitutional and our courts will never allow it. And because people like Dr. Jerry Coyne will be sure to bring things like this to our attention and most of us aren’t stupid enough to want something as insulting, offensive and dumb as this to ever become law. The fact that this will not become law and that we don’t have prayer in schools is proof that we are not quite as stupid as some other countries where there is prayer everywhere – places that are truly theocracies. We do not live in a theocracy nor will we ever unless we are taken over by people from those other “more stupid” places. So by all means complain, because, after all, you have the right to complain here in this country and on the internet.

              • gbjames
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink

                We don’t yet live in a theocracy. There are many politicians who are trying their damnedest to change that. In fact one of our two major political parties has been doing its level best to make the US into a Christianist haven, with some success. The fact that they haven’t yet completely succeeded is little comfort.

                I’m old enough to remember when it wasn’t like this in the US. We have lost ground ever since the Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells of this world rode the wave of Reagan’s conservative rise to power. My own state has always had its fair share of nut-cases (we sent Joe McCarthy to Washington in the 50’s). But I’ve never seen the destructive power expressed with quite such effect as has happened in the last few years.

                So, sure, there are worse places on earth. I wouldn’t trade my life here for one in Egypt or North Korea. But many countries are more progressive (and ungodly) than the US. And I’d rather recognize the problems we have than worry about public relations.

              • skepticook
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

                I have already obviously agreed with you about how bad this particular bill is and I agree that Christian fundamentalists want to turn us into a theocracy. I don’t agree that they have a chance of accomplishing their goals, but nevertheless I don’t think we should ever give in to them on anything. I too am old enough to remember the world before Reagan. I’m also old enough to remember the world before JFK. Do you remember McCarthy? Are you aware that all this “God” stuff like putting “In God We Trust” on our money and “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance happened in the 50’s? Rick Santorum’s religion scared me more than any other candidate’s, but he did not get the Republican nomination. Instead, a Mormon, who lies about what he thinks of the relationship between religion and government, was nominated and he lost to the weakest incumbent I can ever remember. That is progress. They will never get their way and we will not become a theocracy because we won’t vote for one.
                And I’m not just worrying about public relations, I’m thinking about them while I also recognize our problems. When you wrote that, you must have been arguing with somebody else. Of course I think this is an important subject we should talk about, but I’m not looking for a “less stupid” place to move to.

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

                Generally we complain most about those we love, like our own family or our own nation. There is little point in complaining about what is not near and dear to us.

                I’ve always thought “America, love it or leave it” is one of the most unpatriotic slogans imaginable. It’s an appeal to absolute unthinking slavish devotion, as opposed to intelligent active self-critical patriotism.

                After 9/11 we had to wallow in an unbearable orgy of “USA #1″ triumphalism and irrational jingoistic militarism hiding behind the facade of chauvinistic patriotism and love of country. It was enough to make sick any American who loves the ideas behind the Constitution and especially loves the universal assignment of rights to all humans espoused in the Declaration of Independence. Nobody loves a loud self-aggrandizing bully, yet too often this nation acts like the equivalent of that in the community of nations that share this planet.

                Exhuberent emotional fascistic pageantry is no substitute for reflective, intelligent, responsible, critical introspection and a sincere devotion to the principles this nation was founded upon, including an extension of those principles to all of humanity.

                Sure it seemed absurd to most Americans that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, except when you regard that act in the context of this country’s 9/11 response and the Iraq War, and the lack of sober and sound judgement excercised by the citizens and political leadership in that situation. Given that our military is powerful enough to wipe almost any nation off the map if we please, the irresponsible drumbeats of war must have had most of the world feeling pretty nervous. The award of that prize was like a collective sigh of relief by those outside of America that the most powerful decision making position was no longer held by an unpredictable cowboy whose God told him to invade other countries, who was willing to suspend Geneva conventions and with arrogance unashamedly trumpet American superiority as an unquestioned premise and justification for any action at all.

                I love this country passionately, and for exactly that reason I passionately hate it when stupidity drives a majority in the wrong direction as happened during the Iraq War. It’s no wonder Iran and North Korea want nukes, having been labeled as part of the Axis of Evil. That statement alone may have done more than anything else to create the problems we have today with North Korea and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It was the opposite of wisdom, and absolutely stupid statecraft. Yet a large portion of the nation cheered while I cringed with shame over that idiotic bluster. For a while in late 2002 I actually started to wonder if that wasn’t what it felt like to be a German who didn’t like Hitler in 1936.

              • gbjames
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

                “Do you remember McCarthy?”

                I was born in 1950. So “yes” and “no”.

                Being satisfied that Rick Santorum did not (yet) get nominated is not, to me, comforting. The fact that he is considered a possibility is a horror.

                I may be a “half empty” sort of fellow, but I think the level of water in the glass is way too low for comfort.

                And, for the record, I never said I was looking for a less stupid place to live. I said I wish I lived in a less stupid place. There is a difference.

              • skepticook
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

                I’m done commenting after this. I find it necessary, though, to state that I most certainly never said or meant to imply, “America, love it or leave it”. I know you didn’t accuse me of saying it, but your response is immediately after mine. I would never say such a disgraceful thing. Criticizing, complaining, protesting and bitching and moaning are fundamental rights as well as necessities. We have to be able to tell everyone, including those in power, what is wrong and what our leaders are doing wrong. If you thought I was expressing any view opposed to that, you were reading too much into what I wrote. I’m surprised I felt the need to defend myself since I was really only saying that there are dumber places than the U.S. and, since the good things are understood by those of us who live here, we sometimes overstate the negative about this country without mentioning the positive.

              • skepticook
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 10:58 am | Permalink

                @gbjames, thank you for changing your tone. I’m afraid it may be because I admitted I’m about as old as you. I’m not satisfied just because Santorum lost. I was terrified and convinced he’d win and I was then sure that Romney would win in a landslide. That both went the other way is gratifying.. I think the Republicans are going to have to re-think who they nominate and recognize that the far right Christian fundamentalists have been given too much power in their party. I am optimistic that that will happen since their candidate was trounced by a guy they see as feckless. If I am right to be optimistic and they nominate more middle of the road politicians in the next couple of elections, maybe you too will feel like we are winning and will end up throwing religion out of government and then out of our society (you and I won’t live long enough to see that). I think we’re on our way even though it seems like it’s going to take forever.

              • Jeff Johnson
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

                I most certainly never said or meant to imply, “America, love it or leave it”.

                I didn’t know if you meant that or not. You certainly gave a much more nuanced and balanced statement. I agree with you that we need to be concerned about how we discuss the country, and strive for accuracy. Hyperbole can do damage, which I think was a major direction of the point you were making.

                There aren’t a lot of people who are truly stupid, but it’s easy to tire of speaking to an apparent brick wall of incomprehension and lose patience. I think ignorance and parochialism are bigger problems. There’s a lot of really good people with whom I vehemently disagree on many matters.

                I’ll admit to venting some frustration, and it wasn’t directed at you personally. You just reminded me of all that, because at some level your initial post resonated in meaning ever so slightly with a hint of “love it or leave it”, though I don’t hesitate to give you credit for being much more open minded than that.

            • gbjames
              Posted March 18, 2013 at 11:10 am | Permalink

              skepticook, I don’t think I changed my “tone”. I certainly didn’t intend to. And certainly not because of your age. (I found your “wise old person” to “possible young-upstart” comment mildly amusing, though.)

              I’m glad for you that you are optimistic. But I fear you may be whistling past the graveyard. You have only to look at the damage done in recent years to public education to understand that there is a generation coming along that is even less prepared for critical thinking than the guys who currently run my state.

              • skepticook
                Posted March 18, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

                I’ve had enough and I’m sure anyone reading has had enough of me. I only came back to thank you for the graveyard reference. I’m sure you’re trying to use language I can relate to.

          • truthspeaker
            Posted March 18, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

            Moving to another country isn’t exactly easy. I doubt I could get a work permit in Canada, Norway, or Sweden, and I have the benefits of a middle class upbringing and a college education.

          • Jeff Johnson
            Posted March 18, 2013 at 8:23 am | Permalink

            I think the sentiment is better stated as this: The country I was born in and have lived in all my life, which has in countless ways permeated my entire being and won my love and devotion, comes with the major drawback that too many inhbitants believe in God, believe their lives would be paradise if they could roll back the clock to the 19th century, believe that this country should be an all white Christian nation, and that every attempt to engage the collective will to solve a major problem is a conspiracy hatched by the UN to undermine American sovereignty.

            On the other hand, it’s a great place and there is much good in the fact that it tolerates all kinds of diversity, whackos, and crackpots. While this is a source of frustration and we may at times long for more sanity, intelligence, and modernity, generally given the choice to go some place else, on second thought we might not want to have it any other way.

            It’s the natural cognitive dissonance of coming to terms with the complexity of any place, something probably felt by Asians, Africans, Latin Americans, and Europeans at various times and to various degrees.

  3. abrotherhoodofman
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Huckabee:

    We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools.

    Yes, the archaic tomes of nonsense must go, but by all means let’s put God Himself back in. Surely a vacuous and incorporeal being such as He won’t take up much space in the classroom. Consider it done, guv.

    In fact, may I suggest the pencil sharpener as a potential home for the ineffable almighty?

    • articulett
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      How could we have removed someone who is supposed to be omnipresent?

      Is their deity so petty that he needs people to worship him out loud? Is this the same deity that advises “pray in the closet” in the bible? Why is it so important to Christians that others witness their superstitions? Don’t they trust their invisible savior to fight his own battles?

      (Is there room in the pencil sharpener for Allah, Zeus, Vishnu, Santa, and whomever else the kiddies want to pray to? If we don’t pray to them is that the same as kicking THEM out of school?)

  4. Posted March 16, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Everyone knows that Mississippi – Alabama – Louisiana are in a dead heat in the race to the top as the country’s most dumbass state.

    At least Alabama and Mississippi are pretty to drive through. Louisiana doesn’t even have that.

  5. articulett
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The way to end such laws is for atheist students to be just as loud and proud with their religious opinions as religionists are with theirs. How about the inspirational quote, “Faith is not a method of knowledge” over the loud speaker? or “Hell isn’t real.”

    I would also encourage members of minority religions to demand the same rights as Christians.

    Religionists cry persecution when they are required to obey the same laws as everyone else. I would like to see it become embarrassing and socially unaccepable to discuss supernatural beliefs in public, and my guess is that tit-for-tat may be the best way of achieving this goal.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Better yet, we’ll allow prayer every morning provided that every student must take (and pass) a semester-long class on the historical inaccuracy of the Bible and the life of Jesus. Richard Carrier could write the textbook. Class is mandatory and a student cannot get a diploma without passing it.

  6. Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Reclaiming the relinquished narcissism of infancy via monotheistic beseeching. The South’s Gonna Do It Again (cue self-righteous riverbank preacher and frog with fiddle).

    • SA Gould
      Posted March 17, 2013 at 5:14 am | Permalink

      Thought it was supposed to be a dull kid with a banjo…

  7. Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    This kind of stuff makes me think of Matthew 6:5

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. I say to you, they have their reward.”

    Certainly a passage Christians take very seriously.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      You’re forgetting that bible verses that have an impact on one’s lifestyle are meant for *other* people.

  8. Jeff Johnson
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    It really is tiring that we must tolerate this less-menacing but mightily annoying “Taliban-light” playing such prominent roles in our society.

    On this particular issue of public prayer, the irony is just too strong to bear because they are flouting the teachings of their own master. Haven’t any of these loud bible-thumpers ever read chapter 6 or the gospel of St. Matthew?

    Here is a sample:

    6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    Prayer

    5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    I mean bloody Jeezus H. Murphy Christ, why don’t these damned hypocrites read their f-ing Bible?

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      I meant to say “chapter 6 OF the gospel of St. Matthew”.

      • Posted March 18, 2013 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        Let us know if you ever find a Christian who obeys that commandment. It is one of the most clear, and also one which I have *never* seen observed.

  9. Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Prayer that is (even voluntarily) made over a public school intercom system is not “voluntary individual” prayer, and such law or policy will not stand SCotUS review/judgment. Nor does it in any way harmonize with what the Holy Bible plainly says that Jesus Himself plainly said about how and where individuals should voluntarily pray (see Matthew 6:6).

    That said, however, we here in Kentucky depend on Mississippi to keep us from being last in American State Education or first in State Religious Lunacy, and so we kind of appreciate it when they try such goofy shenanigans, for that keeps the heat off of us. Now, if we could just figure out how to persuade the Answers In Genesis Young-Earth Creation “Museum” to relocate from Northern Kentucky to Mississippi…

    • Jeff Johnson
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      LOL. I guess Tennessee, Texas, and Alabama, doing their fair share to distract Americans from Kentucky, have your back as well. The truth is this lunacy is everywhere, but most states manage to keep it from infecting official positions of public responsibility. When the Governor’s brain is so deeply infected by the faith parasite that he can no longer reason effectively on basic matters like this, it takes great effort to overcome the despair.

      • still learning
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        Faith parasite? That must be toxoplasmosis godii…

        • Hempenstein
          Posted March 16, 2013 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

          +1!

  10. Sander Aarts
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Pastafarians to the rescue!

  11. johnpieret
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Well, this will last as long as someone doesn’t try to use it to pray the “wrong” prayer, just as sending home flyers for religious events stopped when atheists asked for the same access. For example, wait until some kid wants to pray:

    Hail Mary, full of grace.
    Our Lord is with thee.
    Blessed art thou among women,
    and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
    Jesus.
    Holy Mary, Mother of God,
    pray for us sinners,
    now and at the hour of our death.
    Amen.

    Or, worse, a Wiccan prayer:

    Lord of Death, I wait for you to take me,
    I come to you willingly, with eyes wide open,
    as my last moment approaches on the horizon.
    May I look upon you without fear, without pain,
    and knowing that those who walked before me,
    await me on the other side.

    Several parents having cows later and the school will decide that making their PA system a “limited public forum” isn’t such a good idea.

    • Posted March 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      A Muslim prayer would work even better. And then the reaction will be something like, “oh no, governor Bryant signed over the state to Sharia law!”

      • johnpieret
        Posted March 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

        Good one.

        Allah is great.

        • michaelbusch
          Posted March 16, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          Should be in Arabic:

          Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Ash-hadu an-la ilaha illa llah, etc.

          Alternatively, go with Buddhism, ideally in Pali:

          Buddham saranam gacchāmi,
          Dhammam saranam gacchāmi,
          Sangham saranam gacchāmi

          (I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha)

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted March 17, 2013 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      I don’t think Santorum would have a problem with prayer 1 and he’s no less a lunatic than your average Protestant fundie.

      • johnpieret
        Posted March 18, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        I don’t think Santorum would have a problem with prayer 1 …

        Of course not … he’s Catholic. But there might be a tad of a problem in certain parts of Mississippi.

  12. Posted March 16, 2013 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Now when will someone in these schools announce they follow the Aztec religion? No one mentions Quetzalcoatl over the intercom. Why the heck is that??!! Quetzalcoatl predates JC on the North American continent! Where’s the love? Where is the respeto!

  13. Posted March 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    My oldest bro, an atheist with a lifelong career as an educator and school superintendent, has put it to me thusly:

    “I cannot for the life of me understand the concern with legislating prayer in public schools; as long as there are exams, there will always be prayer in public schools.”

  14. Posted March 16, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    This law is not new and is very similar to the ‘Religious Viewpoints Antidiscrimination Act’ (RVAA) passed in Texas few years ago. The Texas Freedom Network and the Texas Association of School Boards mounted strong opposition, but it passed handily.

    In Oklahoma essentially the same bill has been introduced each year for several years, usually passing committee and floor votes with a large majority. Three years ago the bill passed and was vetoed by the Governor Brad Henry. This year HB 1456, the same bill, has passed committee and a House Floor vote (79-13) and is on the way to the Senate.

    Hopefully this bill will die along the way as have two creationist bills (SB758, HB 1674), but I would not place a bet on it in this reddest of states.

  15. pktom64
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Wait for the first Islamic prayer chanted in Arabic in those intercom and see if this kind of things continues for long… Or as someone pointed out above, some “atheist statement”. HA! That would be fun!

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted March 16, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

      It could begin, “To no one in particular.”

  16. MikeN
    Posted March 16, 2013 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I always like to remind Christians bitching about the atheists and the ACLU that in the Texas prayer-at-high-school-football-games the plaintiffs were parents of Catholic and Mormon students objecting to their children being prosletyzed by fundamentalist Protestants.

    It’s never about freedom of religion; it’s always about the freedom to impose my religion on you.

    • SA Gould
      Posted March 17, 2013 at 5:18 am | Permalink

      YOu say that as if there’s something wrong with that! :D

    • Lucinda
      Posted March 17, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      This is also good for non-believers to remember: plenty of religious people are just as horrified by laws that allow promotion of religious beliefs in public schools. Strangely, you seldom see Jewish or Hindu believers trying to address a school sporting event.

      • gbjames
        Posted March 17, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Generally it is dominant religions that put energy into excluding others. So you might want to look to Israel or India for examples of Jews or Hindus pushing this sort of thing.

      • Jeff Johnson
        Posted March 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        @Lucinda,
        Perhaps as you say, some believers in the dominant religion of the US, Christianity, have the moral imagination to look at religious minorities, such as Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, or others, and say to themselves “There but for the grace of God go I”. Sadly too many of them go a step further by assuming that the grace of God is their unquestioned entitlement, so they need not worry about discriminating against other religions because, obviously, they are wrong or un-American.

        How many Christians are “horrified” that our money and flag salute were modified by act of Congress in the 50s to include “God”?

        Insisting on printing “In God We Trust” on our currency, or adding “under God” to the flag salute, conventions that are considered unquestioned core American values by the vast majority of Christians, are perfect examples of a violation of the principle of individual right of private conscience, which effectively encompasses freedom of religious belief. Removing these Christian-centric (or perhaps monotheistic centric) slogans would be a proper respect for the religious freedom of every American; it privileges none, and should offend none. After all, our currency and our flag salute are perfectly adequate and more universal without the word “God”, and there is no reasonable Christian belief to prevent them from saying the salute or using the money (Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s).

        The atheistic equivalent of this Christian overreach would be to insist under force of law upon printing “God Does Not Exist” on our money, and amending the pledge of allegience to say “One Nation, Free of God”. Certainly this would be unacceptable to Christians, and understandably so. I only wish all Christians, or even most, could extend this same understanding to others.

  17. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    …provided that students who do not want to hear the prayer can leave the classroom.

    This is the real point. It’s not about the right to pray; it’s about forcing non-Christian kids to stand up and identify themselves, so everyone knows who’s “one of us” and who isn’t.

  18. Dave
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Stories like this always make me think that the religious must be the most insecure people around. They need constant reassurance and affirmation by seeing/hearing the stuff everywhere (and if possible from everyone). The rest of us already support their many churches, that should be enough.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 17, 2013 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      You’d be insecure, too, if you thought the chances were good that you would spend eternity in hell if you didn’t worship in quite the right way.

      • Dave
        Posted March 17, 2013 at 7:26 am | Permalink

        I already know I’m to “spend eternity in hell”; ’cause the bible (and the religious constantly) tells me so.

        • gbjames
          Posted March 17, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

          Exactly. You can rest secure. The religious are full of uncertainty about it. ;)

          • Dave
            Posted March 17, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

            I’m not bothered as, from what I can gather, the company’s going to be a “hell” of a lot more interesting in Hell compared with insipid, groveling “Heaven.” And I think most of the holier-than-thou are not all that uncertain about where they’re going.

  19. Lucinda
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    I agree with everything said in the original post about how these bills violate the constitution, but by definiton this problem is not caused by religious moderates. If you think you’re in sole possession of the truth, wish to impose it on others, and think that other points of view don’t deserve free and equal expression and protection, then by definition you are not a moderate religious believer, but a fundamentalist evangelical. It matters very much that in the states in question, the proportions who are fundamentalist in this way is far higher than in other areas.

  20. truthspeaker
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    For those who claim that “moderate” religion is fine, realize that most of the people behind these bills are not fundamentalists, but just devout people.

    Worth repeating, so I did.

  21. Dave
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    @Ant (@antallan)
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 3:58 “It’s all about self-discovery and community.” It’s not just Apple. They all do it now. Go to Excel “Help,” pose a question, and see how many responses are actually from MicroSoft. Same with Google “Help.” It’s the software equivalent of bagging your own groceries.

  22. walterwart
    Posted March 17, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Sounds good to me as long as they make one little change.

    The prayer has to begin with

    “Allahu Akbar.
    Al hamdu lil lahi rabbil ‘alamin. Arrahmanir rahim. Maliki yawmiddin. Iyyaka na’budu wa iyyaka nasta’in. Ihdinas siratal mustaqim. Siratal ladhina an’amta’alaihim, ghairil maghdubi’alaihim wa lad dhallin. (Amin)”

    Watch the hordes of Herpaderpistan backpedal so quickly they break the relativistic speed limit


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