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Author Topic: Ala. House Education Committee passes bill requiring teachers to pray in school  (Read 1684 times)

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Offline IniquitousTopic starter

Source

So, apparently Alabama has forgotten what the Constitution says about the separation of Church and State. This bill, sponsored by (surprise! It's a republican) Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, requires that every teacher spend the first 15 minutes of class each day to read, verbatim, opening prayers said before a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. (I have issues with there being prayers before the opening sessions of my government but that is a different rant.)

I am glad my kids are out of school. I am glad I never had to argue with anyone about them shoving religion down their throats. But I worry for the kids now and my future grandchildren (assuming I get any of course). This shit is getting ridiculous.


Offline Shjade

Quote
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Hurst, R-Munford, would require teachers to spend no more than 15 minutes in the first class of each day to read, verbatim, opening prayers said before a meeting of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate.

That is considerably different from requiring them to spend the first 15 minutes of class to read prayers. What I'm unclear on from this article alone is whether it's supposed to require them to read specific prayers or a certain number of prayers or what, because if it's as simple as "spend no more than 15 minutes doing this," you can satisfy that condition by...not praying at all.

Offline IniquitousTopic starter

That is considerably different from requiring them to spend the first 15 minutes of class to read prayers. What I'm unclear on from this article alone is whether it's supposed to require them to read specific prayers or a certain number of prayers or what, because if it's as simple as "spend no more than 15 minutes doing this," you can satisfy that condition by...not praying at all.

It tells you what they have to do - read, verbatim, the prayers said before a meeting of the U.S. House of Reps or the U.S Senate. Which I am currently looking to see if I can find what that prayer is.

Offline Zakharra

  If it requires the same specific prayer every day, then it should run into the First Amendment and sink. If it requires any prayer, then that -might- slide if prayers from other denominations and religions are said.

Offline Oniya

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It tells you what they have to do - read, verbatim, the prayers said before a meeting of the U.S. House of Reps or the U.S Senate. Which I am currently looking to see if I can find what that prayer is.

http://forbes.house.gov/prayercaucus/prayerincongress.aspx

Offline Mathim

If people want stereotypes about the Southern states to stop, they should stop pulling crap like this.

Offline IniquitousTopic starter

http://forbes.house.gov/prayercaucus/prayerincongress.aspx

Thanks Oniya. Had to head into work and wasn't able to do a search.

As for that prayer... yeah. I would haul my kids out of any school that required the teachers to recite that every morning.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

If people want stereotypes of Southern states to stop they should read the articles and notice that only two people of the committee voted for this bill.  The bill was passed on a loophole.

Offline Blythe

Quote from the article:

Quote
By way of a voice vote, the House Education Policy Committee passed a bill that would require teachers to recite Christian prayers in public schools every day, even though the majority of members did not vote for it.

The part in bold bothers the hell out of me.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

The majority of the members are saying they responded with a flat out "no" and there were three members not even in attendance to the meeting. 

Offline IniquitousTopic starter

Even so, it passed. No one asked for a recount and they could have.

Offline Valthazar

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I don't like this, and obviously it is unconstitutional.  But when I was growing up in England, I had to sit through a 1 hour class every week where we sang Christian hymns (in public school).  I turned out just fine, am not a Christian, I wasn't brainwashed, and it didn't negatively harm me.  I survived the prayers.

Why people get up-in-arms over these issues, when there are far more significant issues such as predatory lending, the economy/jobs, national security (issues that truly affect all of us), will never cease to amaze me.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2014, 08:10:46 PM by Valthazar »

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

They're hot button issues.  :: shrugs::

Offline IniquitousTopic starter

I don't like this, and obviously it is unconstitutional.  But when I was growing up in England, I had to sit through a 1 hour class every week where we sang Christian hymns (in public school).  I turned out just fine, am not a Christian, I wasn't brainwashed, and it didn't negatively harm me.  I survived the prayers.

Why people get up-in-arms over these issues, when there are far more significant issues such as predatory lending, the economy/jobs, national security (issues that truly affect all of us), will never cease to amaze me.

Yes, you are right about other issues that are out there being ignored. However, this push for religion (any religion) being sanctioned by the government (state or federal) is unconstitutional.  This country was founded on freedom of religion and to have a state try to push the Christian faith on both students and teachers regardless of their individual faiths or lack thereof is a smack in the face. Yes, it is a hot button issue. I certainly do not need a state to shove a religion down the throat of my children. Religious belief is a deeply personal choice and should be respected as such... and a protected right.

Offline Oniya

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If people want stereotypes of Southern states to stop they should read the articles and notice that only two people of the committee voted for this bill.  The bill was passed on a loophole.

That's gotta be some seriously warped loophole.

Offline IniquitousTopic starter

That's gotta be some seriously warped loophole.

Quote
House clerk Jeff Woodard said the Chairman of each committee has the discretion to decide the outcome of a voice vote. Committee members can request a roll call votes if there's a dispute,  but none of the Education Policy Committee members did.

There's your loophole. Allowing one person the right to decide voice votes. That person can sit back and say "I heard more yea than nay". Talk about being screwed if you are against a bill.


Offline Ms Gavane

This country was founded on freedom of religion and to have a state try to push the Christian faith on both students and teachers regardless of their individual faiths or lack thereof is a smack in the face.

Please read all the way to the end before you decide to hate me. And forgive my phone for any spelling or grammar errors.

Unfortunately this country was not founded on freedom of religion. It was founded with the idea that people should be free to practice any religion they want. It was founded by a narrow-minded group of people with some really big ideas. They knew what had happened in the past and wanted to stop it from continuing to happen. So they created a chatted that could one day lead to a land of civil freedom. Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine that following this charter would require them to give up their religious beliefs. Even if those beliefs were contradictory to the Constitution that they had created.

The truth is that the freedom that we talk about here has never existed before. even the freedom that we currently enjoy is a new creature. Civic equality and freedom are very close, in my opinion, but they aren't here yet and they never have been. Every freedom that we enjoy is one that we have fought to gain, and there will be people who fight to push it back the other way. This law is a sign of the death throes of an old system. Yes we should continue to fight against it, but the fact that this loophole was the best effort that they could muster is a good sign.

I guess that my point is, don't get too worked up over these stupid lawsbecause they are a sign that the opposition is getting weak and desperate.

Now if you want to talk about financial freedom and segregation of working classes, I'll get all riled up with you about that.

Offline chaoslord29

Reactionary responses to laws like these don't help anyone. It only encourages and inspires the more fundamentalist elements of the religious right to keep doing the same thing. The failing here is definitely on the legislative process for having a loophole that could pass a law along these lines, but the real problem will be if people start calling for arms being taken up in turn against religious organizations.

Best case scenario, let the teachers and students pay lip service to the prayers until the legislature can get it's act together and repeal the damn thing, and let everyone laugh about it behind the backs of the fundamentalists in the mean time. Better to pity them than get angry for these kind of desperation tactics. It seems strange to me that more atheist and secularly-minded folks don't do more to support religious moderates, since it's the more liberal and progressive churches who really strike at the core of what the evangelicals and fundamentalists stand for.

When an atheist criticizes a conservative/traditionalist Christian for believing in a bunch of superstitious nonsense, they can be dismissed as a non-believer who doesn't really understand. When a fellow Christian who happens to be from say, the Episcopal Church, criticizes that fundamentalist for exactly the same thing, you're fighting them on their own terms, and winning.

Offline IniquitousTopic starter

Please read all the way to the end before you decide to hate me. And forgive my phone for any spelling or grammar errors.

Unfortunately this country was not founded on freedom of religion. It was founded with the idea that people should be free to practice any religion they want. It was founded by a narrow-minded group of people with some really big ideas. They knew what had happened in the past and wanted to stop it from continuing to happen. So they created a chatted that could one day lead to a land of civil freedom. Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine that following this charter would require them to give up their religious beliefs. Even if those beliefs were contradictory to the Constitution that they had created.

The truth is that the freedom that we talk about here has never existed before. even the freedom that we currently enjoy is a new creature. Civic equality and freedom are very close, in my opinion, but they aren't here yet and they never have been. Every freedom that we enjoy is one that we have fought to gain, and there will be people who fight to push it back the other way. This law is a sign of the death throes of an old system. Yes we should continue to fight against it, but the fact that this loophole was the best effort that they could muster is a good sign.

I guess that my point is, don't get too worked up over these stupid lawsbecause they are a sign that the opposition is getting weak and desperate.

Now if you want to talk about financial freedom and segregation of working classes, I'll get all riled up with you about that.

I am not sure where to start here. Either with the fact that you just repeated what I said, only using different words or the fact that this is NOT a sign of the death throes of the old system. I'll start with your first statement - the part I put in bold.

We are saying the same thing, just using different words. But, let me reiterate what I said. America was founded on the freedom of religion. The Framers believed, and desired, that the country they were forming would never have a state (meaning government) endorsed/controlled religion - such as England had/has in the Church of England. They had seen and knew quite well the hell that came from a government trying to say one particular sect was the way everyone had to worship. After all, England had been in an uproar over religion since King Henry VIII decided to ditch his first wife in favor of Anne Boleyn and it had lead to deaths and exiles from their home country.

((History tidbit - Now, contrary to popular belief - the pilgrims (Puritans) were not the first religious exiles in what would become the US. The Catholic's were - and they settled in Mary's Land - aka Maryland. The Puritans ended up exiled themselves after exiling the Catholics because they became too extreme for the rest of the Church of England.))

Alright, so - since we are saying the exact same thing, I can only assume you thought I meant "freedom from religion". I did not. Freedom from religion was not what the Framers had in mind when they set up the Constitution because, at the time, not participating in some Church was unthinkable. The church, in any of it's forms, took up a large chunk of whatever free time you had. If you didn't worship, you stood the chance of being ousted from the community (at best) or being accused of witchcraft (at worst).

Freedom from religion is a much more recent thought and is usually included under the umbrella of "freedom of religion" since the term freedom of religion does, in fact, mean the right to worship (or not) as you see fit.

On to the second thing. This is not the death throes of an old system. It is the continued war from the religious right - a particular sect of the government that still has an amazingly strong grip on the government. This is not something to shrug at and go "oh it's just those death throes again. Nothing to worry about." because the moment that idea takes hold, they get even more control. Unless of course the idea of a Christian Taliban is something that is liked. I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to sit back and poo-poo articles like this because I remember the old adage my dad says.

Put a frog in boiling water it jumps right out. Put a frog in cold water and warm it up slowly, it'll sit there till it's too late.




Offline Callie Del Noire

I've been telling my progressive friends for a long long long time that there would be a snap back in more conservative corners and that it would be pretty big. This, to me, is the start of it. I know a lot of folks who are sitting on the fence with a 'folks can do what they want, just don't ask me to take part' attitude and last years mess with the 'You WILL do THIS or go to jail decision' involving the photographer and cake maker was a bit of a shake to them.

Remember, the people I am referring to remember when it was illegal for a mix ethnicity couple (the Mann Act) to marry. These folks have changed mentally and socially, not everyone adjusts as fast. And coming down this hard on folks.. it's scary. 

Coming in with lawsuits and such has triggered a worry that you can be sued for disagreeing with someone on a variety of levels.

Personally? I think we're way too litigious

Offline chaoslord29

On to the second thing. This is not the death throes of an old system. It is the continued war from the religious right - a particular sect of the government that still has an amazingly strong grip on the government. This is not something to shrug at and go "oh it's just those death throes again. Nothing to worry about." because the moment that idea takes hold, they get even more control. Unless of course the idea of a Christian Taliban is something that is liked. I don't know about you, but I'm not willing to sit back and poo-poo articles like this because I remember the old adage my dad says.

Put a frog in boiling water it jumps right out. Put a frog in cold water and warm it up slowly, it'll sit there till it's too late.

You're responding to this with the same reactionary response that you're criticizing them though for. As long as you view it as a 'war' of us vs them, you're only begetting conflict which benefits them a lot more than us more progressive types. As long as religion is a hot-button issue, the Republicans will continue to use it as a rallying point for the base, and that's exactly what petty legislation in regards to school prayer and the pledge of allegiance are designed to do: stir up trouble without actually changing the status quo. The reason Bush administration never really tackled abortion (like he promised to in his campaign) was that the party knew it was political suicide to do anything at a federal level, so they just scaled back Justice Department involvement and made it a 'state's rights' issue which allowed individual constituencies to get as crazy as they liked, forcing the Dems to be the one to call for federal or judicial intervention, and thus making them the 'bad guys' to the religious right.

The point is as long as you come at the conservative religious right as an outsider, you will never gain any ground with them and only further the conflict. If you claim to be a progressive and a liberal, at some point you have to be willing to be reasonable with your opponent, but if your opponent is a fundamentalist conservative christian, they can operate entirely on faith, without ever engaging with whatever rational arguments you put in front of them. Allow me to illustrate:


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Offline chaoslord29

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pigeon%20chess

Precisely. Take it from someone who knows, Atheists debating Fundamentalists is purely masturbatory for both sides.

Moderate Christians, Progressive Christians, and dare-I-bring up Intellectual Christians however strike at the core of Fundamentalism and Right-Wing Christian politicization. They demonstrate that it's possible to maintain organized religion as a force for good and cultural advancement, preserving the pageantry and tradition which positive communities are built around without succumbing to the superstition and fear-mongering which are not unique to Religious Conservatives (of any faith).
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 02:09:26 PM by chaoslord29 »

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           Text of the bill, I believe.  Under 2pp.  Amazingly short, unless they just aim to be blunter in Alabama.  With all the white space, the abstract is nearly half of it:
Quote

To prescribe a period of time in the public schools
19 not to exceed 15 minutes for study of the formal procedures
20 followed by the United States Congress, which study shall
21 include a reading verbatim of one of the opening prayers given
22 by the House or Senate Chaplain or a guest member of the
23 clergy at the beginning of a meeting of the United States
24 House of Representatives or Senate.


         Well, they bothered to pass it off as a "study" of religion in national traditions at least.   ::)  Though it's sort of like we should "study conflicting opinions" about evolution or global warming, regardless of scientific findings I suppose...

         I guess if Alabama teachers can pick any prayer ever offered in Congress, there might be some interesting exceptional days one could dig up.  I wonder if someone hasn't given a very tongue-in-cheek or tiny prayer offering at some point in Congressional history.  Maybe even a wordless prayer where they just hum an obscure, melodic tune?  Some Congressional prayers have, at least, been given by other than Christian clergy.  (And incidentally, Christian groups have sometimes shown up to protest that.)

         But the whole thing is icky.  We may not have enforced separation of church and state thoroughly to date...  But here it gets worse.  Bit by bit, or otherwise. 

Quote from: chaos
The point is as long as you come at the conservative religious right as an outsider, you will never gain any ground with them and only further the conflict. If you claim to be a progressive and a liberal, at some point you have to be willing to be reasonable with your opponent, but if your opponent is a fundamentalist conservative christian, they can operate entirely on faith, without ever engaging with whatever rational arguments you put in front of them. Allow me to illustrate...

        You lost me when you said that they only need faith, and then asked me to be reasonable.  If faith isn't reasonable, no amount of reason will stop people from whatever the hell they are up to -- whether prayer in schools or blowing up buildings -- but that doesn't mean I'm "reasonable" to accept it.  I don't take it for granted that there are not other practical, political ways to limit it such as the courts (if they are being sane this year) or civil disobedience, if that's what it takes.  Who knows, maybe tying up others in debate "knots" can even be fulfilling if this mutual "waste" of times means they are not accomplishing something you consider worse just then.

          The "friendly debate over chess" picture is misleading in that regard...  When it's often just a tiny vocal minority of people that well, even other conservatives repeatedly refuse to stand up to -- see what happened in the legislative session described in the article.  Who is really not being reasonable?  It's hardly something a chess game is going to resolve.  And some of the people who want specific, religious-based policy are the same people tromping over college campuses with big flaming signs about all the gays (and often, in one basket, the liberals) going to HELL (all in big letters really).  Just because some nut published a (quite possibly mistaken, never properly translated) new Bible saying so. 

        You want me to sit down and play a nice game of chess in the library with that?  It's all I can do to be half civil to them in the public square, try to see what they'll say to what I consider reason...  And then I get people shouting at me for being polite when their whole presentation wasn't.  And I'm not sure I can even blame them for blaming me for trying in that case.  Are people not right to say, that isn't worth talking to because it came with "You are wicked and damned," and so not "Let's talk nice."  And yes I am talking about stuff that happened in the South.  Georgia, to be specific though that particular group trucked up from Florida all along the coast as I recall. 

        The left generally is a little fed up and coming with another version of 'you're wicked,' perhaps (it's actually more like criminal or prejudiced or something specific but hey I'll let it pass) -- but they have more pragmatic reasons and more social justice behind them than 'This book [which we really don't know the history of generally] says so and our pastor insists.'  If you think it's all just everyone's opinion, then evidence be damned and you can hop off a window and see what happens.  I'm tired of people trying to boil it down to every opinion must be equal, but no one has any right to get mad.  Look at the Vietnam War era.  A whole lot of anger for very good reasons, facing off with a whole lot of government violence for rather different reasons -- often facing a messed up management of policy if not downright dirty, cover your ass reasons.  There are still very good liberal professors out there who were active in that time in the marches, who remember when more people had the guts to get in the street or leave the country if necessary to do what they felt was right, and build lots of small-scale alternatives for as long as it took until something gave.  And they were flaming mad at times. 

         There is no such neat consensus, as you suggest, that political liberals (in the activist sense that it meant in that time) were wrong to struggle and be loud and flatly critical.  There is no holy writ (ahem) that says being liberal means no one is allowed to get mad at gross abuses and blind faith flying in the face of evidence about what is going on in the world.  You're confusing "liberal" politics with neoliberal business culture there, I think.  And what neoliberal business wants is not the equality more liberal politics would demand.  Different animals, if often in a confused relationship. 

        I honestly think some people, including many on the right, think liberals have invented all these neat rules about manners and discourse just for the sake of inventing rules to sound "nice," and not because there are underlying ideas about social justice those rules are also supposed to pursue.  And the right often tries to use the same form without pursuing the same ideals the form was originally cultivated to serve...  Often a very out of context manipulation of language.  It falls apart because when you follow the whole logic, well...  It's a little bit like Putin saying he must be the really democratic figure, because he refrains from intervening with force to topple Assad.  Rightists and many conservatives now adopt this faux civility line: of course to get mad and meddle in others' business would be uncivil, and you'd be wrong no matter what they are doing with the world, right?  Or pick your case of people backing a hard, exploitative line while jumping on others for not being "nice" enough.
 
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 02:50:40 PM by kylie »

Offline vtboy

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pigeon%20chess

But then there is the regrettable distinction that one is not permitted to poison the fundamentalists. Perhaps, though, a loophole may be found.... 

Precisely. Take it from someone who knows, Atheists debating Fundamentalists is purely masturbatory for both sides.

The point is not to debate them; it is to prevent them from manipulating the levers of temporal power to impose their own religious agenda through the public institutions of what is supposed to be a secular democracy. And, however pigeon-like the fundamentalists may be intellectually, they have demonstrated considerable political aptitude when it comes to getting states and municipalities, and sometimes the federal government, to enact statutes and regulations which suit their agenda. Witness, for example, the spread of state laws restricting abortion access and permitting pharmacists to decline to fill birth control prescriptions, the Bush administration's ban on stem cell research with new stem cell lines, school boards which have attempted to get creation "science" into textbooks, and, most recently, the Arizona bill which would grant a defense to lawlessness based on religious scruple (contrary to media spin, the defense is not limited to those who would refuse the custom of gays which, I believe, is legal in most jurisdictions).

I am entirely with IO on this. These people are not harmless. They will not retire to their caves if we ignore them. And, I see no evidence to make me believe that moderate Christians, progressive Christians, and intellectual Christians are able or willing to keep the fruitcake Christians, the terrorist Christians and the learning disabled Christians (or similar types of other faiths) in line through gentle persuasion. 

I will overlook the knock on masturbation.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2014, 02:55:05 PM by vtboy »