Op Ed

Takedown: Mary Had a Little Lamb of God

Okay, chickadees, we’re taking a break from election politics this week and visiting the good ol’ prayer in school argument. With a nursery rhyme twist!

Text image: Mary Had A Little Lamb, His fleece was white as snow. And everywhere that Mary went, The Lamb was sure to go. He followed her to school each day, Twasn't even in the rule. He made the children laugh and play to have a Lamb at school. And then the rules all changed one day, Illegal it became. To bring the Lamb of God to school, Or even speak his name. Every day got worse and worse and days turned into years. Instead of hearing children laugh, we heard gun shots and tears.What must we do to stop the crime that's in our schools today? Let's let the Lamb come back to school and teach our kids to pray! IF YOU AGREE PLEASE PASS IT ON!"

Aww, isn’t that sweet? Mary loves her little Lamb (of God). And the evil teacher won’t let it into school! Poor little Lamb of God!

Except it isn’t sweet. It’s wrongheaded, and alarmist, and inaccurate. Let’s take a look.

“And then the rules all changed one day” – the rules didn’t change. The interpretation and enforcement of the rules, as laid out in the Constitution, changed, but the rules themselves regarding the establishment of a religion have been there from the get-go. Sure, bans on school prayer were put into effect in 1962, but that’s a change in enforcement.

Even if the crapdate poster is talking about those bans, they are still wrong. It didn’t become illegal to bring God to school, or “even speak his name.” Students have the right to pray individually however they want while at school. Now, were this Lamb of God a ferocious, intimidating Tiger of God, scaring all the other kids into prayer, that’d be a different matter.

And now we get to the part in the crapdate that is all about alarm. Guns! Tears! Crime! All because we don’t allow school-sponsored prayer. The only way to stop it is to “teach our kids to pray!”

Because Christians are never violent or terroristic. Right? I mean, if you don’t count the Ku Klux Klan. Or the Army of God. Or the Lambs of Christ. Or Scott Roeder’s murder of George Tiller, or Eric Rudolph’s attacks in the name of God, or the Covenant, the Sword, and the Arm of the Lord, or the Freemen community. The people affiliated with these groups knew very well how to pray to a Christian God, and it sure didn’t stop gun shots and tears.

Teaching prayer is not the same as teaching morality. And sometimes, for some susceptible kids with a predisposition to violence, it is the exact opposite.

The worst part of this argument, to me, is its complete and utter blindness. Much like Mitt Romney’s recent characterization of half of America (the half of which he isn’t a part) as shiftless slackers who are dependent on government, much like the GOP’s inability to see women as equals deserving equal right and equal protection under the law, much like Ann Romney’s outreach to women mothers, this crapdate only appeals to those who are a part of the majority group, and thinks anybody not a part of the group is… wait, does anybody not a part of the group exist?

I can see why Christian parents might want their kids to be able to pray in school (and they can), but to have school-sponsored prayer is to use a public institution to advance one religion at the detriment of others. Is prayer in school equally pushed by these Christians if it is referring to Jewish prayer? Or Buddhist prayer? Or Muslim prayer? Of course not. It’s not that they want school-led, publicly-sanctioned prayer in school because any type of prayer is helpful for students, it’s that they want all kids to be taught to be Christians.

Just like with non-holy lambs, if Mary gets to bring her Lamb of God to school, the other kids get to bring their spiritual animals, too. And the kid who really doesn’t like spiritual animals at all shouldn’t have to share a room with any of them. But this is impossible, because all of those animals would shit all over the floor and kids would be having allergic reactions and the noise and the smell would make learning impossible, and kids who want school without those distractions couldn’t be accommodated while kids who want those distractions can, and you know what, Mary? Leave your lamb at home.

By Susan

I am old and wise. Perhaps more old than wise, but once you're old, you don't give a shit about details anymore.

9 replies on “Takedown: Mary Had a Little Lamb of God”

Yeahhh ok. I went to religious schools from third grade on. In grade school we prayed twice a day, once in the morning and again before lunch. We went to mass once or twice a week. I got shoved down a flight of stairs by a classmate. One of my classmates was expelled for bringing a knife to school. When my parents complained to the school about me getting bullied, the administration said they thought it was because I was too different from my classmates and said they should encourage me to conform a little more. Enforced praying doesn’t solve shit.

So in The States you can bring your daemon to school? OH MY WORD.

I have been in both a Christian pre-school and high school. It depended on the teacher if we started the day with prayer. I think most of us found it very convenient to continue napping a bit. But I don’t think the days that started without prayer really made me turn out worse..

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