****************************************** * Michael R. Burhans - Out Of My Mind * * A

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****************************************** * Michael R. Burhans - Out Of My Mind * * A Weekly Electronic Column * * March 24, 1994 * ****************************************** "Let us pray." Or We Must Force Feed The Kids Our Dogma! Once again the armies of the religious right are on the march. The very same groups that are spending millions of dollars on banning books, censoring the media, stopping free speech and legislating bigotry have suddenly tried a new tactic. It seems they would have us believe that they suddenly have discovered the first amendment and are converts. They would have us believe that they are exceptionally concerned with the rights of free speech for students in the public schools. One can only wonder how they can have the gall to expect the rest of the country to believe this in the face of their virtual assault on the civil rights of so many other groups. Their ploy is this: The Supreme Court rightfully banned school prayer on the basis that public schools are an arm of the government; and prayer as school policy was nothing less than a governmental establishment of that religion as an officially state sanctioned one. The religious right was therefore left with the quandary of how to force others to pray to their god without appearing to use the government to do so. They have seized on the idea that as long as it is "supposed" to be a student lead prayer it is merely a matter of free speech. They feel that if they call it "non-sectarian" prayer (which to them means a non-denominational Christian prayer) then nobody could possibly object. However, the mere mention in one of these public school prayers of Buddha, Mohammed, Shiva, or Satan would no doubt make them apoplectic. You can bet money that they will feel quite free to mention Jesus in their prayers. The obvious double standard of their position is yet another glaring example of the sickening hypocrisy displayed by the right wing religious fundamentalist movement. I for one cannot believe they really see this as an issue of rights. For if rights really concerned them, why would these groups spend millions on crusades to remove the rights of homosexuals? If they were really concerned with rights why are they advocating book banning? If they are really concerned with rights why are they working to restrict the rights of non- christian worshipers? If they are really concerned with rights why do they work to remove the right to burn the flag? If they are really concerned with rights, why do the spend so much money to censor art galleries? If they are really concerned with rights why do they spend so much time and effort trying to censor the media? How can they expect us to suddenly believe they want to be a great force for freedom? Any citizen or elected official that falls for such an obvious and cynical ploy almost deserves to live in the theocracy these people would like to create. Since there is no way to do this without forcing the rest of us to also live in this freedomless state we must oppose this agenda. As it stands now, every person has the right to pray in school as long as they don't force it on others. That policy is sound and should not be changed. I find it disingenuous at best when people claim they cannot pray properly unless they get to use the public address system and force everyone else to join in or listen. That is nothing less then a form of brainwashing by rote repetition. There is no possible prayer that can accommodate all of our nations diverse religious beliefs. Even the mention of "God" would tell atheists, agnostics, deists, and polytheists that theirs is not the officially state sanctioned system of beliefs. This is blatantly unconstitutional, and needs to remain illegal. If you want to or need to pray, do so, but do not try to force me or my children, or anyone else to join along. ************************************************************ *(c)1994 Michael R. Burhans\24th Century Society Publishing* *Permission for unaltered reproduction and dissemination is* *granted as long as it is not for profit & with this notice* ************************************************************ * SLMR 2.1a * Michael R. Burhans - Out Of My Mind

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