Friday, April 29, 2005

We need that Prayer!

Here's one to watch:

The Virginia ACLU has filed a petition on behalf of Cynthia Simpson, who is Wiccan. The suit seeks to reverse a 4th Circuit Court of Appeals 3-judge panel's upholding of Chesterfield County's banning of Simpson from delivering the invocation at Board of Supervisors meetings. In 2002, when Simpson asked to be put on a list of persons who could deliver the invocation, she was told that anyone doing so[must] be Judeo-Christian. Earlier this month, the 3-judge panel ruled that Chesterfield County was within its rights restricting legislative prayer.

This is one I keep hearing from all my Far-Right Christian students -- how we need prayer in schools, how it will be okay if we have prayer in schools, because anyone will be allowed to pray, after all, we have freedom of religion in this country -- except by "anyone" they mean either Baptists or Lutherans or Methodists, they're not prejudice, oh no, and, as one of them told me the other day, "Jews can pray too, that's okay!"

"Okay," I said. "Suppose I'm a teacher, and I'm a Wiccan, and I want your daughter -- " her daughter was in the hallway at that moment -- "Suppose I want your daughter to pray to some Wiccan goddess. You're okay with that?"

She stared at me.

"Suppose I'm Muslim," I said. "I want your kid to pray to Allah. You're okay with that?"

"Well, no," she said. "But this is a Christian country!"

"Well, no," I said. "This is a country where the government doesn't endorse any specific religion."

"But the government is endorsing Christianity!" she told me -- with some triumph, I might add.

Heh. Indeedy. And that's the damn problem.

And this case is an example of what happens when we start saying we can pray in a state-endorsed venue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you would enjoy a Life In Hell cartoon from 1994 that I have hanging up in my cube at work. It depicts a teacher-rabbit at the front of a classroom addressing her student-rabbits: "Good news, everyone! We've got prayer in the school!! All Jews, atheists, Hindus, Muslims, Shintoists, Taoists, Sufis, Buddhists, and other heathens should leave the room now."

As one of those "other heathens", I watch current events with some alarm. Central Indiana is not exactly diverse, well-educated, or particularly tolerant of differences. I've had very little luck convincing anybody here that Neo-Pagan does not in fact = Satanic.