Silent Choices: This Month’s School Prayer

“Mr. Beyer?”

I looked up from my laptop to see Mrs. Hobart, the school director, standing in the doorway to my classroom.

“Yes” I said.

“Here’s this semester’s prayer. Look it over and get back to me if you have any questions.”

I took the sheet of paper that she was handing me.

“Before you go, there are a couple of things you might be able to clarify.” I said. “What’s our policy for those children who don’t want to participate?”

“It’s the same as before” she said. “Those children who want to abstain should silently reflect on whatever they choose while the prayer is being recited.”

“Well” I said, “I don’t expect all of the students to sit quietly through this. Last quarter both Eli and Abdullah objected quite vocally.”

“Just have your teaching assistant take them out into the hallway during the prayer. There is no reason for them to be uncooperative. Besides, I don’t think you’ll have any problems with Abdulla.”

“He’s leaving?” I asked.

“No, not at all. Look, I’ve got to deliver the rest of these prayers. Save your questions for this afternoon’s meeting. We’ll be distributing your clocks and rugs then.” And with that she was gone.

I looked down at the prayer and read through it.

In the name of Allah (God), The Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful.
All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord (Who is the Creator, Sustainer and Guide) of all the worlds.
The Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful; Sovereign of the Day of Judgment.
Thee (alone) do we worship, And from thee (alone) we seek help.
Show us the straight Path, The Path of those (who fear Allah) and on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy blessings.
Not of those (committing wrongs deliberately) On whom Thou art angry, nor of those who (Having wrong opinions) go astray. Ameen

Well, I thought, Abdullah might be happy. But Eli’s going to have a fit. Not to mention the Christian kids. But they shouldn’t complain. After all, every day last semester we said the “Our Father”.

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  1. #1 by deathtotheworld on July 22, 2008 - 12:26 am

    I thought I remembered something like this – read this article about a public school in Minnesota that has turned into an Islamic school that forces students to do daily muslim prayers, study Koran, do ritual washings, etc.:

    http://www.startribune.com/local/17406054.html

    This is sort of an old article so if anyone has some new info please let me know!

  2. #2 by Christian Beyer on July 22, 2008 - 6:31 am

    Thanks. Alex. Rather chilling. This excerpt stood out – from an eyewitness, a substitute teacher in this taxpayer funded charter school:

    Before the assembly, she says she was told, her duties would include taking her fifth-grade students to the bathroom, four at a time, to perform “their ritual washing.”

    Afterward, Getz said, “teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day,” was preparing to lead prayer. Beside him, another man “was prostrating himself in prayer on a carpet as the students entered.”

    “The prayer I saw was not voluntary,” Getz said. “The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred.”

    Islamic Studies was also incorporated into the school day. “When I arrived, I was told ‘after school we have Islamic Studies,’ and I might have to stay for hall duty,” Getz said. “The teachers had written assignments on the blackboard for classes like math and social studies. Islamic Studies was the last one…

    Now, I don’t know if any proponent for Christian school prayer is suggesting we go this far but I believe that is merely for the sake of political expedience. I am reminded of those schools that have attempted to insert intelligent design theory into the biology curriculum.

  3. #3 by Robert on July 22, 2008 - 9:16 am

    Christian

    You give me hope!!!

    R.

  4. #4 by Christian Beyer on July 22, 2008 - 9:57 am

    Ssshh! What will people think when atheists and Christians start to agree on things? 😉

  5. #5 by Robert on July 22, 2008 - 10:03 am

    ummmmmmm…end times has begun?

    R

  6. #6 by akaGaGa on July 29, 2008 - 7:45 am

    As a libertarian, I think the problem exists because of public schools, not prayer in schools. Education by it’s very nature embodies values. By having public schools, parents in essence turn their kids over to the values of the current government.

    If we didn’t have publicly-funded schools, then each parent could choose a school that supports their own values.

    (Sorry about the soapbox, but this one is close to my heart.)

  7. #7 by Christian Beyer on July 29, 2008 - 12:57 pm

    I could be wrong about this but my understanding is that the first private schools were started by the Catholics in order to avoid what they considered to be Protestant indoctrination in the public schools.

    Of course, along with the cult of the child we have created the cult of the school. EDUCATION is the most important thing for every child but that means only ACADEMIC education. Every child MUST finish high school (of course!) and now anyone worth their salt MUST go to college. Not in order to broaden their horizons (that’s old school) but instead to enable them to earn more money(to pay off their loans and pay for THEIR children’s education) Which is a worthwhile goal for some but….

    Meanwhile plumbers are netting more than physicians in some areas of the country and if you are a refrigeration mechanic you can name your salary. The shame of it is that in the USA the skilled trades have become a poor career third choice for the typical adolescent. And this is only further encouraged by the education industry, which continues to charge more and more and more for a college education.

    My soapbox.

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