Whenever the subject of public prayer in school or government arises, there will always be at least one person who is unable to see how this would affect people of other faiths or of no faith at all. Obviously, as an atheist, I would rather not have any prayer at all and when I mention this, the inevitable response is usually something like “It’s only a prayer. Suck it up”.
Of course, it is “only a prayer”. And again, being atheist, praying (or at the very least, pretending to pray) shouldn’t really bother me. After all, prayer to an atheist is about as much use as a bicycle to a fish. You can’t expect either the atheist or the fish to really care too much, and it’s a waste of time to show them how to use it.
However, what if it were Muslim prayer that was being offered in school? Would that make any difference to your average Christian? After all, it is “only a prayer”, so just “suck it up”, right?
For reference, here is a set of instructions for how to perform the Muslim prayers. I can’t see many Christians being too happy with chanting “Allahu Akbar” and prostrating themselves on the ground, in the same way that non-religious persons are not too happy with having any prayer at all.
Ah, but isn’t the United States founded on Christian principles, making a Christian prayer the natural choice? Actually, no, it is not. The 1796 treaty with Tripoli states that the United States was “not in any sense founded on the Christian religion“. In fact, religion is not even mentioned in the Constitution, except to exclude it. Websites such as WallBuilders are attempting to rewrite history from a Christian perspective, pushing the idea that the Founding Fathers were devout Christians when at best, they were simply deists – not Christians.
Most secular people do not have a problem with prayer itself. In fact, if it makes you happy then go for it. Whatever floats your boat. But when you bring your private prayer into the public space and subject other people to your religious beliefs, that’s when we will speak up.
After a conversation on twitter regarding this very subject, the final comment from a Christian was “I guess I agree with that in a public school setting. However, I still think it’s too far to sue over it”. While a small part of me wants to fist-pump the air with the triumph of reason over religion, I cannot help but agree with him. It really is too far to sue over it, but unfortunately that is often the only way that people will pay attention to your argument.
Unless you open a meeting with a Muslim prayer, I suppose.