OUR VIEWS: The right to pray

Oct 10, 2012

At a time when we so often hear about the wrongdoings of our youth, it’s good to know an event such as this is well-attended. Those kids should be commended for their actions.

Joining hands and praying around a flagpole in front of school in the early morning hours is not for everyone, and that’s OK. If it’s not for you, no problem — but for those who do want to participate, we applaud the school for giving them the opportunity to do so.

It’s unfortunate that society dictates whether or not we can allow activities pertaining to politics and religion to continue. From saying the Pledge of Allegiance in our classrooms or a prayer before a sporting event, there are many who think these traditions shouldn’t be allowed. We agree that people shouldn’t be forced to participate, but we also believe those that want to should be able to do so.

The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 4934 requiring classes in public schools to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day. At the same time, the bill prohibits compelling a student to recite the pledge.

We are fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world, and we are afforded many freedoms. Having the opportunity to express them by saying the Pledge of Allegiance in our classrooms or praying in front of the school should be a right for those who wish to participate.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

Wingmaster

No one is forcing them to pray...get over it. Why do you resent this expression of ones faith so much. Pep rallys for sporting events are forced upon the student population more than this event.

snlfan

Pray as much as you want, just do not organize it in school, before school, around school... If the kids want to pray have them meet at a local church, no need for it on school grounds. Schools are for learning about the world according to observation, reason and facts. Whereas religion is based in faith of something regardless of facts or any concrete observation. When Michele Bachmann claimed that "God is calling on me to run" the first question out of the media should have been: "So is god a male or female? Since he/she spoke to you let the rest of us know"

Wingmaster

Funny you bring up learning in school. Religion has been a part of our history like it or not. Shouldn't it be taught as such! You do not only want it out of schools, you want it erased. You tipped your hand regarding your true agenda by that one statement "schools are for learning about the world..."Every corner of the world has had religion and you want to ignore it. I'm not advocating teaching religion in schools here, thats another conversation. Schools are used as meeting places for the community all the time, excluding students who want to organize a prayer, outside of school curriculum, is discriminatory. Your bias has more deep seated reasons than you are telling here. Keep you personal conflicts with religion to yourself. Again, no one was forced to attend this prayer just as no one is forced to watch Saturday Night Live, thank god!

snlfan

What is your problem with holding praying events at churches instead of schools?

Wingmaster

Nothing. Its called freedom to assembly. You should look it up an educate yourself. We hold voting at schools, we hold public meetings at scools, we hold training classes for the state (drivers training, boaters safety, hunter safety) classes. Just because I don't partake in all those events or maybe not even like some of the topics, I don't try to stop the events. What's your real issue with religion is the question that needs to be answered for yourself.

SrqDude

Voting, public meetings, training classes for state government functions are all sects of government, and in cases where they are not they pay to use the facilities and very rarely during the time when that building is operating for its purpose; religion is not. Freedom to Assemble is not as simple as you make it seem. Many local and state governments put restrictions on this. Some include the need to acquire permits to assemble in certain public locations when your assembly reaches more than a certain amount of people. Another restriction is when your assembly blocks pedestrian movement. Say you have five people assembling on the public sidewalk in front of your local city hall. When your group makes it impossible for people to use the sidewalk you are infringing on the rights of others and most times will be asked to keep moving. Furthermore the only thing stopping these events is the LAW, you know the same one that says we can't kill or steal or rape people. Schools are for academic studies, churches are for religious studies. If your church isn't enough for you perhaps you should find one that does fulfill your needs instead of trying to get fulfillment out of a separate entity. Like ya know when I'm hungry I may go to a restaurant but I wouldn't go to a auto manufacturer.

snlfan

"Religion has been a part of our history like it or not. Shouldn't it be taught as such! " This is not praying when you teach the influence that religion has had on the human condition throughout the ages. I learned about religions of the world at the collegiate level out of my own interest, that different than organize religious participation, studying the history and human cultures. I especially like the part where religion ruled Europe, that period was known as The Dark Ages.

sirhansalot

A bunch of Jesus freaks no better than those dirty hippies

Vladtheimp

As usual, your comment is crude and profane. To paraphrase the movie "Billy Madison" : Everyone exposed to your comments is now dumber for having read them. May God have mercy on your soul.

Wingmaster

You better hope your views are correct...hell forever is a loooooong time. Good luck.

dyankee

@43 North, you're right. I was a little too direct at you with my comments. My apologies. I had a personal experience one time at an event where everyone stood up for the National Anthem except one little.....with his hat on backwards. He was kicking back on the bleechers resting on his elbows and feet kicked up as the Anthem played with a look of disgust at the rest of us. I discretely went over to him and told him to atleast take your hat off and stand up out of respect for our country/flag. He fired back to me in broken English..."its not my f-ing country". As luck would have it for him(besides getting into our country) we were surrounded by middle school kids so, I decided not to help him up and stand him on his head. My point is, there are a few things that light my fuse quickly and disrespect of my country, our flag, our culture, my family, and the Bible are top 5. So, I should have put your post into context before responding because clearly, that was not your intent. I agree you don't have to participate in singing our National Anthem or reciting our Pledge of Allegiance, but I believe you should always show respect for those that do and to the country that is providing more freedoms, rights & privileges for an individual at a level not found anywhere else on this planet.

43°North

my point exactly about someone not saying the National anthem...your reaction to someone not following your rules. You want to 'stand the guy up on his head' for not joining in, even though he had no reason to. You want to belittle and berate him, even maybe smack him alongside the head! And this is someone not even from this country! Would you have stopped short like that if he was American and had said screw you? It was his right, but you took it upon yourself to approach him and possibly reprimand him if you felt he needed it. Freedom to do what you like, my arse.

Highlander

Dyankee-
So one instance means "this is a common issue?" Should he have stood up and respected the people around him? Perhaps. When I was in the UK, I stood up when they sang their alegiance. Should I have sung, "God Save the Queen?" You're lucky you didn't get busted for "assault" since you "stood him on his head".

BTW, I know a lot of new comers, visitors and immigrants are very respectfulof America and the US's culture. Dyankee- have you been anywhere else on the planet to make that comment, "at a level not found anywhere else on this planet?" Just wondering. I've been in a lot of places that have some freedoms and priviledges that don't exist here- lower poverty rates, "free" education& healthcare, better public transportation, etc. Don't get me wrong, the US is a great place giving us the "pursuit of happiness." But many of us Americans have a very narrow, uninformed perspective.

HavenWillie

I say just ignore the praying kids. They are just doing it to get a reaction as kids often do. Don't give it to them. Christians love to feel persecuted. That's what they are after in this instance.

Vladtheimp

Interesting that you appear not only to know the motives of millions of people, but feel free to insult them. Wikipedia: "See You at the Pole (SYATP) is an annual gathering of Christian students of all ages at a flagpole in front of their local school for prayer, scripture-reading and hymn-singing, during the early morning before school starts. The American SYATP events occur on every fourth Wednesday of September.[1] The events began in 1990, in the United States, where public schools cannot sponsor prayers and some Christians see public schools as hostile to Christian students.[2][3] It has grown by word of mouth, announcements at youth rallies and churches, and the Internet and now occurs internationally. In 2005, over two million students in the U.S. participated, as well as students in Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Germany, Ghana, Guam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, South Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Scotland, and South Africa.[4]" Do you also know the motives of Moslems and feel free to insult them when millions rampage, pillage, rape, and murder when they feel their spiritual leader has been pictured, maligned, or insulted? "I say just ignore the rampaging Moslems. They are just doing it to get a reaction as Moslems often do. Don't give it to them. Moslems love to feel persecuted. That's what they are after in this instance?" Seems to fit equally well, wouldn't you say?

SrqDude

Haven't you just proven the insults Willie was using are at least coherent? Look, your first point [1] states that the reason these prayer events began was because Christian students felt hostility from public schools. In other words, they are reactionaries because hostility can warrant a fear like that of being persecuted. They aren't praying to be faithful but rather to protest and cause a scene; this is true if we use your facts. What makes the whole prayer protest laughable is that laws are laws and they are not changed on the steps of your local public school building. Therefore, praying in protest at a public school is the wrong venue. Laws were passed that separate church from state and whether you agree with it or not doesn't matter to the public schools who are charged with following the laws. Perhaps if these prayer protests occurred at your State Representative's office they might MEAN a little more. Unfortunately nothing will change because enabling public schools to participate in such activities like praying in class is a violation of everyone's rights. If most people would think about the overall consequences of changing a law like this they would realize how silly a notion it is. It is silly because if you allow Christian prayer to happen in a public school then you must also allow Satanists, Muslims, Pagans, Buddhists, Jews, and so on to also pray or do their thing. Thus making the school more of an extension of church. No one would have time to study after every different group finished with their prayers.

Vladtheimp

I have “proven” no such thing – didn't set out to “prove” anything. I intended to show that Willie had no clue that he was not just addressing a “few kids” locally when the event involves millions worldwide. I quoted Wikipedia because it was easy – Wikipedia is the source for the statement regarding some Christians thinking the schools were hostile. That in no way supports your assertion that the kids worldwide aren't praying to be faithful but protesting and causing a scene – which then leads to a nonsensical riff about going to a political office, and praying in class, as though that was ever an issue. My point about Moslems was that it's o.k. to ridicule and demonize Christians today, but heaven help someone who might suggest about Moslems, as Willie did about Christians, that their views are not deep seated religious ones but that their demonstrations are only meant to attract attention because they love to feel persecuted. And, by the way, if schools want to have a moment of silence before class, or want to pray before a football game, I'm perfectly willing to have all other religions pray in their own manner. I would really love to have athiests observe a moment of silence for once.

Tri-cities realist

"Laws were passed that separate church from state" SrqDude, Do the words "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" mean anything to you? Ignorance is bliss I guess.

gordbzz231

holy cow, we have our own religious war right here on the trib, whats wrong with you !!!! no one is right or wrong, so stop

43°North

yes, please people, stop having an opinion!

Vladtheimp

Having an opinion is opinionated, since no one is right or wrong. Why do I suspect gordbzz231 is a high ranking official of the State Department (or Justice or HHS) take your pick?

gordbzz231

The Company We Keep,

HavenWillie

Vlad: I agree.....I think the comparison between dogmatic christians and Muslims is a good one and very apt.

Vladtheimp

Changed your tune a bit, eh Willie - very Obamaesque of you. First you say that "They (Christian kids) are just doing it to get a reaction as kids often do." Now they're not just doing it to get a reaction, they are doing it because they are "dogmatic." Kind of diminishes your original point. I think the administration could use you to clarify their position on Benghazi . . . .

gordbzz231

no people, im just a simple guy observing bunch of idiots complaining about religon, when and where we pray, should never be an issue, so many rules now days makes you sick, remember how simple it was back in 60,s

gordbzz231

somewhere along the line, the state got involved with praying and religion in public places and goverment run offices, because of certian groups wanting their rights, it offends them,, now in god and trust is taken off money, crosses taken down and list goes on, our country was based on ( In God We Trust)

Highlander

1. When exactly has it been illegal to pray in a public place? A "public" school mandating/requiring prayer would be against the Bill of Rights- look it up. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...." Americans throwing around the words "rights" and "freedoms" should actually know them. Should a public school which is predominately Catholic mandate that Protestant students pray the "Catholic way"?
2. Look at a Dollar Bill. It hasn't changed. It has said "In God We Trust" since Sen. McCarthy blacklisted actors.
3. The US was never founded or based on "in God we Trust". In God we Trust is pretty new. The US and it's Constitution are based on laws, freedoms. An atheist/agnostic American has the same rights as a Christian American, Muslim American, or Buddist American. In fact, the Founding Fathers were Christian, Agnostic, and many, Including George Washington, were practicing Free Masons.

Tri-cities realist

FYI, one of the precepts of the Free Masons is the belief in a superior being, i.e. God.

Highlander

Key word, "a" superior god. Not any specific one.

From the Freemasons:
Our purpose as freemasons is not that of a religion. Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion. Freemasonry is not a religion nor is it a substitute for religion.
Freemasonry advocates no sectarian faith or practise.
We seek no converts.
We solicit no new members.
We raise no money for religious purposes.
We have no dogma or theology. Religious discussion is forbidden in a masonic lodge thereby eliminating the chance for any masonic dogma to form.
It offers no sacraments and does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge, or by any other means. The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with the modes of recognition only and not with the means of salvation.
By any definition of religion accepted by our critics, we cannot qualify as a religion.
Freemasonry supports religion. Freemasonry is far from indifferent to religion. Without interfering in religious practise, it expects each member to follow his own faith.

Tri-cities realist

Exactly. I thought by including Free Masons in your list you were inferring that they were atheists, since you didn't mention atheists by name (you did mention atheist/agnostic above, thus my confusion). My apologies if that was not your intent. So yes most of the founding fathers believed in a higher power, and as such didn't want the govt interfering with their beliefs. To claim that an individual exerting their right to pray in a school, somehow constitutes an establishment of religion is more than a stretch of the Constitution. And just for the record you forgot to include the rest of the establishment clause..." or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Funny how so many people forget to include that part. I'll assume that it was an innocent oversight on your part... Wait remember what you said about assuming... Note there was no mention of "free exercise thereof ON GOVT PROPERTY, or in public schools. That must have been an oversight on their part. Actually probably not. The brevity of the Constitution is another example of the brilliance of its authors. Just read the words that are in it, no need to add any more. Congress can't dictate a national religion, nor prevent people from exercising their religion. Period.

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