'New School Prayer'
Exposed As Lies
John (Buddy) McClean

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The New School Prayer

Now I sit me down in school
Where praying is against the rule
For this great nation under God
Finds mention of him very odd

If scripture now the class recites
It violates the Bill of Rights
And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a federal matter now

Our hair can be purple, orange, or green
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene
The law is specific, the law is precise
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice )

For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all
In silence alone we must meditate
God's name is prohibited by the state

We're aloud to cuss and dress like freaks
And pierce our noses, tongues, and cheeks
They've outlawed guns, but first the Bible
To quote the Good Book makes me liable

We can elect a pregnant senior queen
And the unwed daddy, our senior king
It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong
We're taught that such judgements don't belong

We can get our condoms and birth controls
Study Witchcraft, vampires, and totem poles
But the Ten Commandments are not allowed
No word of God must reach this crowd

It's scary here I confess
When the chaos reigns the school's a mess

So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!


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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "John (Buddy) McClean"
Subject: Re: The New School Prayer
Date: October 13, 2001 6:54 AM

They printed this in the paper? That paper owes its readership quite a humble apology because praying is not against the rules at all! Kids can pray if they want: individually, in groups (consisting exclusively of those who want to pray), silently, or out loud. As long saying anything of their own volition is not against the rules, praying is not against the rules. Because speech over a PA system, for example, would be controled regarding other kinds of content, it would be controled regarding prayer. If three boys at a lunch table can discuss the anatomical traits of various female students, they could also freely pray at the lunch table.

This thing is little more than a list of lies! Were this newspaper in my town, I would not settle for simply writing a rebuttal (though I would do that), but I would also contact the editor by telephone and discuss possibly being given the proper space to rebut the lies listed in this thing.

All this is not to mention that the originals all contain a heart-wrenching plea to forward this to everyone in your address book because if you deny Christ on Earth, he will deny you in Heaven -- or something to that effect! In other words, "Spread this around or you'll go to Hell!" No wonder this thing is so popular! Brrrr!!

I'm not sure sarcasm is the most appropriate way to respond to this one, but in some cases, you do whatever you can do to get people's attention as long as it's not tacky and does not use falsehood. I responded in kind to the recent "Can We Pray?" spam that came out of the WTC atrocity. But when using humor, you gotta be real careful. The one must about humor, in my opinion, is to avoid what these people did: humor must be truthful; if it is satire, the fact that it's satire ought to be easily recognizable as such by anybody familiar with satire (a Mad Magazine editor, for example). But if your average reader is not likely to "get" that it's satire, then you'll have to tell them up front what it is.

Here is a complete legal analysis of "The New School Prayer," put together by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (ReligiousTolerance.org) (and used with permission):

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"The New School Prayer"

What The Laws Really Say



Now I sit me down at school,
Where praying is against the rule.


Praying in school is not against the law. In fact, the U.S. Constitution guarantees students the right to pray in public schools; it is a protected form of free speech. A student can pray on the school bus, in the corridors, in the cafeteria, in their student-run Bible club, at the flagpole, sports stadium, and elsewhere on school grounds. They can even pray silently before and after class in the classroom. They are not allowed to pray solely Christian prayers as an organized part of the school schedule. However, they may be able to hear or read prayers from a variety of religious traditions and inspiring statements from secular sources. Prayers cannot solely be from a single religious faith group.



For this great nation under God,
Finds mention of Him very odd.


This is also untrue. On average, Americans are quite religious. Church attendance is higher than in any other industrialized nation. Attendance in the US is twice that of Canada and four times that of many European countries. However, in order to preserve the separation of church and state, there are a few restrictions on prayer in government facilities -- including public schools.



If Scripture now the class recites,
It violates the Bill of Rights.


Bible passages can be recited in class during the study of comparative religions. But they would have to be balanced by passages from other religions and statements from ethical movements.



And anytime my head I bow
Becomes a Federal matter now



As noted above, individual students are quite free to pray throughout their public school building and throughout their school day.



Our hair can be purple, orange, or green,
That's no offense; it's a freedom scene.
The law is specific, the law is precise.
Prayers spoken aloud are a serious vice.


As noted above, students are free to pray almost anywhere in school.



For praying in a public hall
Might offend someone with no faith at all.


It is true that, according to the Golden Rule, Christians should not perform acts which offend other people. Also, Matthew 6-5 & 6 does prohibit Christians from engaging in public prayer. But the main reason for restriction on school prayer is the principle of separation of church and state.



In silence alone we must meditate.


Some states have passed laws requiring or allowing a moment of silence before class. But students are free to engage in prayer, meditation, or any other thought process, as long as they are silent.



God's name is prohibited by the state.


It is not. One example is the national motto: "In God We Trust."



We're allowed to cuss and dress like freaks,
And pierce our noses, tongues and cheeks.
They've outlawed guns, . . .


Students are allowed wide latitude in dress and jewelry, including religious clothing and accessories. It is true that schools do prohibit guns from the campus, for security reasons.



. . . but FIRST the Bible.
To quote the Good book makes me liable.


The Bible is not outlawed. The U.S. Constitution protects students' freedom of speech. They can quote freely from the Bible in their essays and projects.

Passages from the Bible can even be read in the classroom, as part of a comparative religion class. But they have to be balanced with passages from the texts of other religions and from secular movements.



We can elect a pregnant Senior Queen,
And the "unwed daddy," our Senior King.
It's "inappropriate" to teach right from wrong,
We're taught that such "judgments" do not belong.


In most schools, students have the right to democratically elect their Senior Queen and King.

Ethics and morality can be taught in school. But they cannot be taught from the perspective of a single branch of a single religion. The full range of beliefs of right and wrong need to be included. (See Note 1)


 We can get our condoms and birth controls, Some schools do have condom dispensers or health clinics. These have been shown to be a very effective way of reducing unwanted pregnancy and STD transmission.


Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.


True. Study of Witchcraft (a.k.a. Wicca) would be valid in a comparative religion course. So would totem poles, which are part of Native American spirituality. Vampire legends could form a part of history or sociology courses.



But the Ten Commandments are not allowed,
No word of God must reach this crowd.


This is wrong. The Ten Commandments can be taught; they can even be posted on the walls of public schools. However, they must not appear by themselves. Other religious rules of behavior and secular laws must accompany the Ten Commandments.



It's scary here I must confess,
When chaos reigns the school's a mess.
So, Lord, this silent plea I make:
Should I be shot; My soul please take!


It is important to realize that schools are relatively safe places. An average of about two dozen students have been shot in U.S. schools annually in recent years. This compares with thousands shot outside of school buildings each year.

Major factors involved in past in-school shootings have been:

 •   very serious mental illness on the part of the perpetrator(s),


 •   revenge for years of hate, marginalization, and rejection of the perpetrators by the school's social elite.

If prayers from a single religion were re-introduced into public classrooms, they would provide one more criteria by which the majority could discriminate against and marginalize minorities. The end result would probably be more school violence, not less.



Note: 1. Concerning the teaching of ethics and morals:

This is sometimes a delicate matter, prone to controversy:

  • There are many moral and ethical topics about which a social consensus exists: e.g. abolition of slavery, racism, universal suffrage. These are taught freely in public schools with little objection.
  • There are some topics about which a near consensus exists, but on which vocal minorities hold divergent views. For example:
    • Over 99 percent of Earth and biological scientists believe that the Theory of Evolution is accurate. Conservative Christians generally believe in a competing belief: Creation Science. Many educators feel that only Evolution should be taught in science class, because Creation Science is not really a science. But others argue that creation science can appropriately be taught in a comparative religion class.
    • Birth control is generally accepted in society, and is practiced by most sexually active, fertile couples who are married or who live together. Many educators feel that information on birth control is an important topic to teach; others feel that it is inappropriate to educate teens on this matter. It is sometimes difficult for teachers to reach a compromise on these topics.
  • There are some legal topics about which no social consensus exists at all: access to abortion, spanking, physician assisted suicide, pre-marital sex, etc. Some argue that no education is complete unless a student examines all sides of these issues. Most educators believe that no single position on these topics should be taught as "right or wrong."

Copyright 2001 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
used with permission
Bruce Robinson of OCRT asks us to add the following disclaimer: "Our contribution is not a legal opinion. We are not US constitutional lawyers. We are Canadians, not Americans; none of us have any legal training."


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Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
    people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "John (Buddy) McClean"
Subject: Re: The New School Prayer
Date: October 13, 2001 5:55 PM

Were it not for the politicking of a certain breed of Christian minister, this would not be an issue. But this is about politics and greed and certain Christians' quest to force their views on others. They're not mad about anything besides them not being allowed to have the schools recite Christian prayers and post Christian Scripture and propaganda. If you think it's about a simple moment of silence, think again.

First, kids would not be taught to push the line as far as they can physically get away with. But the adults teach them to disrupt classes and school-sponsored events for the purpose of injecting the Christian message of "salvation" into whatever they can get away with. We all watched as they organized "spontaneous prayer events" at football games. And most of the ones involved in this one particular stunt were adults, but the youngsters are taking quite a lesson from this. And at all times, the kids have been repeating the rhetoric that the adults have fed to them. f The children perhaps do not know the law, but most of the adults involved have, by this time, heard the schools explain to them that the children are not forbidden from praying, even in groups and even during class time. The clincher is the line that says, "For this great nation under God / Finds mention of him very odd." Oh, really, now!? Are these not the same folks who point to our money which says, "In God We Trust" as so-called proof that America is a "Christian nation"? About the only mention of "God" that is restricted anywhere is that some schools will still discipline a child for saying, "God damn!"

Next, we wouldn't have to make cases in court just to protect ourselves from their patently greedy approach to evangelism. We wouldn't have to make a scene because the school administrators have become thoroughly intimidated by this large and noisy group of individuals -- or are part of that very group! The reason we go to court is because the Christians stubbornly refuse to obey the law. They don't think the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion applies to anybody except Christians because they think this is a Christian nation. So, in essence, the Christians are above the law.

Finally, the politicking pastors would not polarize their flocks to the point where people would, knowing all the facts, still circulate this nonsense. But, as I mentioned, many if not most have at least been exposed to the information I posted above, the information rebutting the "New School Prayer." It's not a matter of ignorance any more, it's simply a matter of stubbornness and arrogance: they want to have the upper hand; they want to be allowed to stuff the Christian religion down every child's throat. They won't settle for anything less, and they'll do almost anything to accomplish this goal because, as I mentioned had been omitted from the newspaper's version of this poem, they teach one another that if they don't "stand up for God," He will cast them into the Christian Hell.

Most Christians are not like this, to be sure.

Most Christians believe that their God is big enough to take care of Himself and does not need a meddling group of Christians to do much more than feed the poor, tend to the ill and needy, let the light shine brightly, and perhaps, share a Word of Hope with someone who is sending a clear message that she or he is probably in need of something along those lines.

Most Christians believe the instructions and example of Jesus Christ are to be taken seriously whenever these instructions are clear and ambiguous. A cursory study of the instructions of Christ regarding prayer and the examples he set show that Jesus Christ saw prayer as a private thing between God and the individual human. He taught this way, specifically in the Sermon on the Mount and generally elsewhere. Wherever he is shown in prayer, it is after he has left the crowd and gone off to be by himself -- or he is simply said to have gone off somewhere to pray. The only thing he did in public, with and before other people, is bless food. The only ambiguous passage is one of the four accounts of his Baptism: he is said to have been in prayer during the ritual of baptism during such time as the Holy Ghost is said to have descended upon him (Luke 3:21). One other passage is somewhat ambiguous, and that is John, chapters 16 and 17, where Jesus was with his disciples, and then he prayed, and then he and his disciples went off to their appointed rounds. Whether Jesus went off by himself to pray or remained in the presence of the disciples is not stated.

Most Christians believe in the Golden Rule, which teaches, in this instance, to do unto others what you would have them do unto you. So, if you don't want a Muslim teacher stopping the class five times a day and instructing the students to bow toward Mecca (even if it is optional), then you know better than to force a Muslim student to sit through a Christian prayer -- or any prayer, for that matter. They complain about their kids having to learn about Wicca and Totem Poles (rare, only in a larger anthropological context, and usually presented as pure mythology), so they don't want other kids to sit through a Gospel sermon or a retelling of the Noah's Ark tale.

Most Christians believe in some variant of live and let live, and thus think it is good to let people decide for themselves how they are to live their lives. They certainly don't want other people to tell them how to live their lives! They will tell you that God does not force Himself upon humans, but waits quietly for the human to reach out to Him, respecting the human's free will. Similarly, such Christians do not think it is moral or even beneficial to preach to a captive audience.

No. Only a handful of Christians think and act this way. And chances are that every one of them who owns a computer has forwarded this "New School Prayer" to their entire address book. While a drop in the bucket in America still adds up to a lot of people, it's still just a drop in the bucket. Unfortunately, this "drop" is tainted with a very dangerous hazard, and thus the rest of us do well to draw attention to it and work toward eradicating the toxin from it.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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