respecting public prayer

AtheistSam's picture
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respecting public prayer

Yesterday my son got detention on the last day of term. I totally agree because he was talking during assembly and that is against the code of conduct which he agreed to. So no problem there: next term he must write lines or pick up litter or whatever.

However, I do have a problem in that the other boy is not also being punished. Moreover, the matter will be taken to the Master of Discipline (yes, in this all boy school that's his title) and escalated to a disciplinary enquiry which also goes on his school record.

For one reason only --- he was talking during prayer! The comments were - "this is disgusting, outrageous behaviour and showing no respect."

I will wait and see the outcome because its a very slippery slope ...

My logic may go along the lines of, either punish both boys, i.e. they were talking to each other. About this happening during prayer I reckon any random Amen's are effectively against the no talking rule too... OR: maybe my son was talking to his personal invisible Deity? In which case he was praying, not talking LOL! 

I think it opens a whole can of worms to have public prayer. Because we have freedom of religion then rightly the Islams and Jews should be allowed to wear funny hats and bring prayer mats where indicated. The Hindus and Buddhists should be allowed free reign with incense and incantations. The Hare Krishnans should have chanting rights and lets hope there's space for the whirling dervishes! I imagine the good folk who talk in tongues would need some special dispensation too because man are they loudSmiling

To see this in context, the school was asked to pay for Japan and the victims ... my son had one of those spontaneous blurting out moments, saying "slactivists - what's the use: why don't we rather have a fund raising drive". 

Has anyone else here had a similar problem? How did you resolve it please? I will post the outcome next term to complete my post. Thank you for your time, rgds Sam

What Would Jesus Drive? Well, God preferred an old Plymouth, "God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden in a Fury"; Moses was said to ride a motor bike, "the roar of Moses’ Triumph is heard in the hills", while the apostles would carpool in a Honda, "the apostles were in one Accord".

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The problem with your

The problem with your comparison, I think, is that your son was on a Christian school, and the examples of other religious rituals are in public space.

So basically, they're punishing him extra hard because he was saying something during prayer in stead of during a normal speech? If it isn't in the code of conduct, I don't see why they would be allowed to do such a thing.

In the second last sentence, do you mean pay or pray? It's quite a difference Laughing out loud And I think the comment would be much more logical if it was about school praying in stead of paying.
So, assuming that, I think he's right, and that he had the right to express his opinion, but maybe not during that time.
If they can show us there's a correlation between prayer and anything useful for the ones prayed for, they can go ahead and pray. But every person knows that bullshit. Otherwise every scientist in the world would believe in God.

AtheistSam's picture
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I meant "pray" - sorry for

I meant "pray" - sorry for the typo ...

The school is not a Christian school but a public one which relies partly on govt funding and partly on parents. It has to meet constitutional rights which include the right of free speech and the right to religious observance.

I agree totally with the concept that he broke a rule and am fine with the detention because maintaining order for 800 boys is not an easy undertaking. In South Africa our schools are generally strict with any kind of behavior that differs from the code of conduct. 

I also agree that it wasn't the best time or place to express his opinion ... however, what's done is done now and we all have to be accountable for our actions: next time he will hopefully think before speaking!

Thank you for your insight Thunderios: I will most certainly use this question should we get to a disciplinary hearing - to force 800 boys into believing the best thing they can do is pray, without proof that it works;  is bad thinking and should not be part of an educational environment.


What Would Jesus Drive? Well, God preferred an old Plymouth, "God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden in a Fury"; Moses was said to ride a motor bike, "the roar of Moses’ Triumph is heard in the hills", while the apostles would carpool in a Honda, "the apostles were in one Accord".

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hmm.....My response to


My response to public prayers is to stand quietly, head unbowed, eyes open.  I don't have to make a fuss, but I don't have to pretend I'm praying, either.

But I'm not an 8 year old boy.  Having raised 3 boys, quietly standing for 5 seconds is next to impossible for an 8 year old boy. 

I had something similar happen to me in 3rd grade.  During a test, a friend leaned over and said, "what is the answer to # ????"  And I said, "I can't tell you, we aren't supposed to talk during a test."  And the teacher saw me talking, but not my friend.  And so I was the one punished and she wasn't.  Totally unfair.  But the teacher's rationale was that she saw me talking, but since she didn't see my friend talking, she couldn't punish my friend.

It was probably something similar for your son and his friend.  They didn't see the other boy talking.  And so they feel it would be unfair to punish the other boy.

I feel strongly enough about this, that I never let my sons get away with anything.  If a neighbor came to me and said "I saw your son doing ...."  I would look at my son and say, "Well?"  I would also believe my son if he claimed he had extenuating circumstances.  I always tried to balance what an adult stranger said with what my son said.  It was never easy making those kind of decisions.  Was my son lying?  Was the neighbor exaggerating? 

From my experience with school administrators, you aren't going to win this argument.  Just use it as a lesson for your son.  I told my sons to toe the line to keep their mother out of trouble.


-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

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If this is a public school,

If this is a public school, the government CANNOT legally advocate prayer. Prayer by individuals outside the classroom or during the "moment of silence" has not been banned.

I agree with not disrupting ANY classroom or assembly, but what I want to know from these assholes is what is wrong with the church down their street? What is wrong with praying before they put the kid on the bus or in the car before they drop them off.

These same pricks would not allow a non-Christian student or teacher to advocate on school property in the same manor in the same venue at the same scale.

If government is supposed to be neutral on the issue then there are only TWO choices. You let it all in, or you keep it all out.

Since public schools are there for everyone and there for teaching universal subjects, I would say that these people have way more than enough time to practice their religion on their own time.

What they cannot do is say, "I get to do this, but you cant".

If they are not punishing the other boys and only punishing this kid for disrupting the prayer then this is a clear violation of the Constitution because it is advocating favoring one religion over another.

If this is a private school however, then the parent knows before hand, or at least should know, what they are getting their kid into before hand.

There was a video a while back of a girl, either vollyball player, or basketball player, in a public highschool, who DID NOT disrupt the prayer before the game, but simply stood apart from the rest of the team and was suspended and received harassment and threats by other students and even parents.

This is happening because the Constitution is not taught in public schools, or at least the vital parts that call for government neutrality on the issue, "No Religious Test" and "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion".

Not to mention the Barbary Treaty and article 11 "As the government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".

In short, they cannot have it both ways. They cannot use public property for this and then deny others the right to do it, or the right to dissent. I would say if they want to avoid this, the best thing for all of any label, is to do this type of thing on your own time with your own dime.

Students should be there to learn, not there to be gang members for a god.

Schools ae not churches, mosques or godless. Just like you don't play ice hockey on a football feild. Schools are there for learning, not social clubs.



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