from : Tyler A. Wunder
To : Paul Brouillette
Subject : School Prayer alert
In a msg of , Paul Brouillette writes to
PB> On judgement day, Susan. Has the question never occured to you, "Why do
PB> atheists get so upset over people praying?"
Paul, this is a complete straw man argument (in other words, you're
attacking a fictional position that atheists do not actually hold). In case
you're doing this unintentionally, I'll elucidate:
Atheists don't care if you pray. You can pray all you want; I don't
care. You can pray in public institutions (e.g. schools) and I don't care.
You can pray in City Hall and contrary to what you might think, I don't care.
What DOES bother me, and other atheists, is when not only do you pray,
but you request that everyone else pray as well. Within a public school you
have no right to try and force your religious beliefs into a religious
ceremony which includes everyone by their very presence in the school.
If you (hypothetical "you") wish to pray at your locker, so be it. If
you wish to pray in the cafeteria, so be it. If you wish to pray in the
classroom so be it. But under no circumstances will you disrupt my class to
pray (you can pray all class long for all I care, so long as you do it
silently/quietly and keep up in your work), nor will you require others to do
the same, or bow their heads and be silent so that you can get your praying
If praying is so important to you (or if you don't trust your children to
pray so that you feel you have a right to insist on enforced prayer in the
morning exercises at school), pray at home before you get there. Or pray
while you're there, but do it silently, and don't disturb the class unless you
wish to take a trip to the principal's office.
PB> Does God exist, or doesn't
PB> He? If He does, then I can understand why an atheist would get upset
PB> when people pray to Him. If God does not exist, then there is nothing
PB> to get upset over, is there?
Let me ask you this: If a public prayer was instituted to Allah within
the public schools, would it bother you? Some pagan/Wiccan deities? If so,
why? After all, if Allah and/or a god of modern witchcraft does not exist,
then there is nothing to get upset over, is there?
Clearly, you have grossly misunderstood the issue. Atheists are not
threatened by the existence of your deity (you seem to be implying that we're
cowering in fear of discovering that your beliefs are right, and as such don't
want you to pray and scare us -- poppycock!), but do feel threatened when an
appropriate separation of church and state is not maintained. If you wish to
pray in school as part of a public ceremony, go to a private religious school
which can legally perform this activity.
PB> All the controversy over prayer in school
PB> is nothing but poppycock to a true atheist. The question that remains
PB> and which must be asked is, "If God does not exist, as atheists SAY,
PB> then why do they get so upset over Him?"
Remember the Allah example above? How about Lucky, the Lucky Charms Elf?
Would an appropriate morning ceremony that worshipped Lucky and his pink
hearts, yellow moons, orange stars and green clovers offend you? It would me,
and no matter how strongly you might have fooled yourself into thinking that
the idea of your God's existence threatens me, I don't think you can
reasonably claim that you feel I am threatened by Lucky's existence.
PB> Atheists often claim they are
PB> very "rational" people. Yet they get all riled up over someone else
PB> talking to or about someone Who does not exist.
Straw man (see above). I get riled up and upset when you dim the lights
and require the entire student body within a secular, state run school to talk
to or about something which does not have any proof for its existence, or to
silently respect such nonsense.
PB> For a bunch of people
PB> who are supposed to be so rational, they sure don't make any sense
PB> sometimes. I just can't figure it out. From what I have read, the
PB> Christians have never attempted to force people to pray if they don't
PB> want to (if I am wrong, please reference the source material so I can
PB> review it).
By enforcing it as part of a daily ceremony, you force us to partake in
the prayer, if not by participation then by silent cooperation: one thing I
do like about the Jehovah's Witnesses is that they require their children to
leave the room. Not much I do like about them, but they've got balls in that
one instance. Wish I would have done it as a student.
Within a church, I will of course silently respect your religious
ceremonies -- it's your church, and if I don't like it I shouldn't be there.
But keep this nonsense out of the public school system.
PB> They only want to have the freedom to pray if they want to.
Who the hell is stopping you? Pray at your locker! Pray in the car!
Pray in class! Go home after work and within your own home crank up the
Kerioke machine and scream the Lord's prayer as loud as you can without the
police coming by to arrest you for disturbing the peace; but I will NOT allow
you to institutionalize a religious ritual within the public school system.
PB> Why do the atheists try to force them to NOT pray?
We don't. Stop pretending we're persecuting you. If we closed down
religious bookstores, churches, and made religion illegal, then we'd be
persecuting you. Fact is, any atheist I know of would fight to give you these
rights (e.g. to practice whatever religion pleases you). But we're going to
fight just as hard to keep you from having "rights" you shouldn't and don't
have (e.g. legislation of religious doctrine).
PB> Why shouldn't BOTH
PB> groups have the freedom to exercise their own free choice?
We do. If Billy wants to pray at his locker, Billy may pray, so long as
he's not supposed to be in a class or something else (for example, Billy may
not stop to pray at his locker during a fire drill). He may even pray vocally
at his locker, so long as the decible level does not exceed acceptable levels.
Same for in the classroom (where the acceptable decible level will be somewhat
lower, if not non-existent, as a little thing called teaching is going on).
PB> Are atheists
PB> the only people who have "their rights?"
PB> Perhaps I'm yet `un-enlightened'. :)
You are. Read the above and think about it. No one is stopping you from
praying. We are stopping you from institutionalizing religious practices
within a secular institution. Religious instititions are for religious
Tyler A. Wunder