Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Under Attack

So, apparently GOP nominee-wannabe Rick Perry says that “our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”

I agree that political correctness can sometimes be taken ridiculously far.  But, c'mon people, do you really believe the "majority" of Americans really feeling persecuted on this one?  I was a student too long ago to give my personal experience as a student, but I was just a teacher in public schools a few years ago, and we still had Christmas in school (I loved our ugly Christmas sweater contests!)

Heck, I was visiting an elementary school earlier this week and they had a write a "letter to Santa" bulletin board. And I live in a very liberal college town with a lot of international students. If Christmas is still in OUR schools...I have a feeling it's not the epidemic Rick Perry wants you to think it is.

"No prayer in school" does not mean prayer in school is illegal (you will not get sent to jail, or even detention for praying in school), it just means no organized prayer in school.  No mandated prayer in  school. No one (teacher, principal, coach, etc) can force anyone to pray, thereby also pressing their personal religious beliefs on a child. Your child.  Think about it...I have a colleague who is Muslim and is a social studies teacher at a local middle school. What do you think most Christians would do if SHE led a prayer in her class?! They'd freak the fuck out! Freak. The. FUCK. Out. They'd be picketing. Rioting. No, burning the freaking school down.

Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating.  A little.

But most Christians I know would be really upset about that. To say the least.

Every school, every morning during announcements (at least every school I've ever attended or taught at or visited for any other reason) observes a moment of silence. This is a moment (about a minute or so) set aside for both the students and staff to take a moment to relax, be calm, and reflect on their coming day. An opportunity for those who feel so inclined to say a prayer. And they can start it for themselves as "Dear God" "Our Heavenly Father" "My Creator" or "Dear Lord baby Jesus", or however else they personally feel compelled to pray. Because religion is, and should always be, a personal choice. A BELIEF if you will.

I attend and am a member of a Christian church. But occasionally, we attend other churches, most commonly my in-law's church. And even though both of our churches are Christian, I get uncomfortable during parts of their service and many of their prayers, because our churches just have such different interpretations of things. I often will block out what is being prayed and say my own, different, silent prayer in my head. One that fits my beliefs.

I can almost hear it now "well, children who believe differently or don't want to pray could do the same thing." But here is a huge difference: #1 I am choosing to be sitting in that church. No one forces me to go, not even my in-laws. Children do not have a choice to go to school. #2 I am a grown adult with formed beliefs, and those people in the pulpit of my in-laws church are not my role models or mentors or authority figures.  I can easily distinguish between what they tell me and what I personally believe.  Children are typically much more easily influenced than that.  And bottom line is, if my children are praying, I want them to pray prayers that are meaningful to them and their beliefs, not their teachers, or classmates, or some government official somewhere hundreds of miles from their classroom.

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