A Response to FWD: Pray

A copy of this FWD came to my wife’s inbox today and, as I’ve been in a period of philosophical, religious, and non-theist study and reflection, I did a quick google search and decided to write a reply. Interestingly, this has been going around the interwebs since 1999 and although it has been attributed to Andy Rooney, was mostly the work of Nick Gholson, a sports writer from Wichita Falls, TX. Read the full forward on snopes.com (here) or below first for full effect. While the s.e.e.p. has generally discussed environmental and some political issues, we will in the future also be discussing religion, it’s place in regard to scientific pursuits, it’s effect on our civilization, social justice and other aspects.

A message to Nick Gholson/Paul Harvey/Andy Rooney/The “Christian Nation”:
You may not agree with Darwin, but you must accede that he is based on reason and solid scientific data. Which is, of course, what we teach in science class in public schools. If you hired a lawyer to prevent this, it would demonstrate your complete lack of understanding of what science is and why it has been so important to the development of our civilization and technology.

While religion also has been important to the development of our civilization, you are wrong when you assert that a 30-second prayer does not endager our liberty. While you say that the United States was founded on Christian principles, you are partially correct in that it was indeed Christians who came here, seeking freedom from religious persecution. But from whom? For the most part, other Christians. The nation was indeed started by Christians, but anyone who says that we are a “Christian Nation” does not truly understand freedom, nor do they understand the principles upon which it was founded. People of this mindset often misinterpret “freedom of religion” as “freedom to live in a Christian Nation”, when what it really means, is that everyone has the right to practice their own religion, or lack thereof, without being harassed or their freedoms imposed upon by members of other religions. In order for us to achieve real freedom for all, this concept needs to apply to any government-related activity, in this case, public schools. Just as you have a right to say a PERSONAL prayer before a football game, I have the right to not have what I consider superstition and mythology preached at my child’s publicly-sponsored activities. If you want to have a group prayer before a game, send your child to a Christian school, not a public school where everyone must be free of religious indoctrination or coercion. How does the son or daughter of Muslim, Jewish, or non-theist parents feel when many of their classmates are chanting a prayer from a different religion that they do not believe in? They feel at best segregated, and at worst demeaned or oppressed, and is not much better than good-old fashioned school bullying.

Using the argument of numbers, where Christian churches outnumber others 200-1 is a horrible logical fallacy. I hate to play the incessant Glen Beck Hitler card, but the although the numbers were to his advantage when he conquered Greece, Libya, and other countries during their advancement in WWII, this most certainly did not make it the right thing to do. This is clearly exaggeration of the issue at hand, but I’m sure you get my point. Our country was founded from a minority, feeling that the majority was wrong and oppressing their freedoms. By calling for a Christian ceremony to take precedence over the practices of non-theists and non-Christians, simply because they are a minority, you imply that they do not have the same rights as Christians, and in doing so you miss the entire point of what freedom really is, threatening to become the same type of despots that led to the founding of our great country.

Regarding prayers before sports in other countries, you are correct that you would hear Muslim prayers in Baghdad, mostly because if you said a different type of prayer you could be shot. China as well, has killed or incarcerated people for practicing their own religions.

I find your interpretation of an atheist’s response amusing and hypocritical, as Christians have a longer and more violent history of the same, with many lawyers being called to take scientifically supported evolution out of science in exchange for non-scientific and religiously-based “intelligent design”, as well as banning books, taking away people’s rights by not allowing them to marry, and other impositions on our civil liberties. Contrary to your opinion, others have more of a right NOT to hear your prayers in public schools than you have to say them. And to clarify, this does not infringe on your liberties at all, as you are still welcome to practice your religion in whatever way you please in your home, your 200-1 churches, or other non-taxpayer supported venue.

And while a short prayer before a football game will most certainly not “shake the world’s foundations,” it is simply not the right thing to do at a public school function in our modern-day secular society. We’ve made incredible progress in social justice over the last century. It used to be that women would stand to the side while men voted. Blacks had separate schools, water fountains, and couldn’t vote. Now all you’re asking is for those who do not believe in the same religious text as you do to stand aside and wait, and be put in an inferior and less respected position, while you practice your ritual in front of them. This is, to those of no or different faiths, rude to say the least. And while we could just roll our eyes at the futile yet endearing chanting, waiting patiently for you to finish YOUR sacred rites but leaving no time or consideration for any of our traditions, we simply will not stand for it. We WILL call our lawyers. We WILL raise our voices. And we will continue to do this until you keep your religion out of our schools. While we appreciate your blessings, they are not necessary. Just like you, we also hope and work for an improved world for our children, our families, our citizens, and the global community. We also hope for the safe return of our troops and the spread of true freedom and prosperity. We just don’t ask or rely on any supernatural deities to do it, we know that we need to do it ourselves. We recognize that your prayers, however earnest they may be, won’t fix the problems of the world . . . we will.
Clint Slaughter, M.D.
Pray if you want to! 

CBS and Katie Couric et al must be in a panic and rushing to reassure the White House that this is not network policy. (Andy Rooney's segment on 60 Minutes program on CBS Sundays is below.)

Folks, this is the year that  we RE-TAKE AMERICA & CANADA
********* Get  Ready *********

Keep this going around the  globe. Read it and forward every time you receive it. We  can't give up on this issue.

Andy Rooney and Prayer

Andy Rooney says:

I don't believe in Santa Claus but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December.  I don't agree with Darwinbut I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school  teacher taught his Theory of Evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a  30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal?  It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts.  They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

But it's a Christian prayersome will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America and Canada , countries founded on Christian principles.  According to our very own phone book Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1.  So what would you expect -- somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in JerusalemI would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game inBaghdad I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended.It wouldn't bother me one bit.

When in Rome .....

But what about the atheists? Is another argument.

What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humour us for 30 seconds.If that's asking too much bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer!

Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's  foundations.

Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of  all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep.Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want. It is time that the majority rules! It's time we tell them, "You don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honour Him. That is your right and we will honour your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away.  We are fighting back and we WILL WIN!"

God bless us one and all...Especially those who denounce Him,God bless America and Canada , despite all our faults we are still the greatest nations of all. God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

Let's make 2010the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. And our military forces come home from all the wars.

Keep looking up.

If you agree with this please pass it on.=

------ End of Forwarded Message

5 Responses to “A Response to FWD: Pray”

  1. Russell Hodin Says:

    As stated in the FWD “…our Bilble tells us to pray without ceasing…” I would add the point that all true spiritual religions would have you pray without ceasing, so that your life becomes prayer, and into alignment with the universal spiritual and loving creative force. That’s the whole point of religion, from a spiritual pursuit perspective.

    Instead we have religions that have become artificially distinct from each other with the goal (like many clubs) of increasing membership and dictating conformity, instead of inspiring introspection and inquiry. We have reflex behavior, like organized and priest-led prayer, which spawns FWDs like the one you cite, wherein life happens, then we take a minute to pray, and then life continues as before, but now sanctioned. This is anathema to spiritual liberation. Anathema to a lifetime of prayer.

  2. My father in law says something like, “Anytime you get more than two people involved in a religion you ruin it.” I agree with you though, whatever you want to call it – prayer, mediation, awareness, a constant consciousness of the world around us and our effect on it, can indeed be a spiritual pursuit. It can lead to increased compassion for our fellow human and stewardship for our planet, and maybe eventually to some sort of cultural or transcendent enlightenment. Although some organized religions discuss these concepts, they are often far too concerned with interpreting arcane and ancient texts to fully participate in a modern philosophical discussion on morality, spirituality, or existence.

  3. Terre Dunivant Says:

    Once upon a time I heard an idea about religion that I like, where all the formalized religions are like wells sunk into the same groundwater.

    Some wells are fancy structures – gilted and gated so you can’t draw your own water but must submit to an intermediary. Other wells are wild, unfenced seeps and springs and grottos (my preference). And other wells are just pipes leading to faucets; no romance but still, fresh water comes forth whether you appreciate its life-giving properties or not.

    So for me the issue is not so much prayer, but remembering to appreciate the gifts of the Earth. And so I also like saying ‘thank you’ before a meal, which also looks like prayer and may be considered as such. When a friend is sick or in the hospital, Allyson and I send what we call and actually see in our meditating minds as healing vibes, waves of light and love from our hearts to our friend’s, which could also be called prayer.

    It’s semantics, but as you say, Clint, that’s important. I call God the Great Spirit, but I don’t feel segregated by Christians who want to pray in public unless they get going on Jesus. From what I know about Jesus, he was a cool dude, but he’s not the only spiritual hero.

  4. I hear you Terre, and I like the groundwater metaphor. My problem is with the people who don’t see it as a problem when they step on or oppress the rights of others, or even contradict reality and irrefutable scientific data, because their religion/metaphor/cult is “the truth.”

    This letter struck me in particular as typical of the unsupportable and nonsensical self-righteousness of this type of mindset and I felt the need to get on my soapbox. I’m not against the pursuit of spirituality and existential experiences, which are a part of most of our lives in one way or another and although they are often explained in religious terms, represent a part of our human experience which hasn’t really been explained or even explored much beyond their religious trappings or philosophical theories. We have learned so much about the world in the last century, much of which essentially nullifies many literal claims in most religions, leaving followers to pick and choose which doctrines they call “truth”, and which are ignored. Somehow, most theists can do this without realizing the disconnect from reality that it requires, and avoid recognizing the metaphorical nature of all religions, which are simply trying to explain and make sense of that same groundwater, be it gilded and gated or wild and wonderful. Who knows, maybe we’ll one day be able to break down human consciousness to a molecular level, or find a scientific explanation for spiritual connectedness, but it’s ridiculous for someone to claim that their 2000 year old metaphor, already full of illogical and disprovable assertions, can lend “truth” to concepts that are at this point unknowable. The mere existence of the wide array of human religions undermines the validity of all of them.

    One of the sad facts of our modern times is that the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world in math and science education, in part because of the mistrust of science propagated by the religious right. Over 50% of our culture still accepts much of the Bible as literal fact rather than metaphor, even though many claims are clearly impossible, defy the laws of physics as we know them, or just don’t make any sense. Raising the creation myth above evolution is just preposterous and makes us look like fools in the eyes of most of the rest of the world.

    And yes, Jesus was an incredibly compassionate, progressive, left-wing, hippie, who was eons ahead of his time in terms of social justice. I love explaining how his love and doctrines translate to modern leftist politics to right-wing, hyper-religious conservatives, you can almost see their existential crisis unfolding in front of your eyes!

  5. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to mention that I have really loved surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!

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