Lucky Kids In Alabama Get To Pray For 15 Minutes At The Start Of Every School Day

shutterstock_144339616__1393272467_142.196.167.223A house panel in Alabama has passed a bill requiring teachers and students at public schools to spend 15 minutes every morning praying – the Christian kind, of course. Most of the legislators present opposed the measure – but no matter. God wins.

From UPI.com:

The law would not only allow, but require, school teachers to start each day with the same prayers used to open congressional sessions, and up to 15 minutes each morning would be allotted for prayer.

The legislator spearheading the bill is Rep. Steve Hurst (R-Munford), who argues, “If Congress can open with a prayer, and the state of Alabama Legislature can, I don’t see why schools can’t.”

Interesting point. It is total bullshit that Congress and the state of Alabama Legislature open with a Christian prayer – thanks for pointing that out. Oh, wait. That wasn’t his point at all.

I’m not an atheist, although people always assume that I am because I ridicule measures like this. I pray in my own way and I enjoy doing so. I just don’t think it’s up to me to decide that the rest of the goddamn state should pray to the God or Goddess that I pray to. That’s ridiculously unfair and also blasphemous to all other religions out there. Funny that those who find religion and prayer the most important completely ignore that others may not just be seriously offended by measures like these, but are also being forced to minimize the importance and validity of whatever religion they practice.

Take it from me and don’t try to argue this point with anyone that actually believes passing laws like this is a-ok. This is hypocrisy at its worst – and unfortunately it’s always the very religious that perpetrate it. I have absolutely no problem with how people decide to express their religious freedoms, I just can’t concept how forcing everyone to pray to a God that may not be theirs is something that can actually be legislated in a country that claims to have separation of church and state.

Good job Alabama. You’ve out-crazied Florida this week.

(photo: Maria Dryfout/ Shutterstock)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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    • Guest

      IRL: 15 Minutes to dick around before class

      • keelhaulrose

        While the teacher prays to the Christian God. I wonder what happens if the teacher is an atheist?

      • brebay

        They hold her under water for 5 minutes; if she drowns, she wasn’t a witch.

      • Armchair Observer

        A witch! A witch! A witch! We found a witch!

        What do you do with witches?

        Burn them!

        Why do you burn them?

        Because they’re made of wood!

      • Paul White

        It’s a fair cop.

      • Caitlin Burrows

        “How can we tell if she’s made of wood?” “Build a bridge out of her!”

      • Shelly Lloyd

        She turned me into a newt!

        I got better.

      • brebay

        I’m just trying to be a better person; my name is IRL.

    • Mystik Spiral

      How is this Constitutional?

      • keelhaulrose

        It’s not, but there are certain legislators who don’t give a damn about the constitutionality of their laws and how much the state is going to pay out in litigation as this gets trounced all the way to the supreme court.

      • Paul White

        Constitution? Fuck that. We base our government on a set laws handed down to shephards 2 millenia ago. We don’t need no constitution.

        We don’t need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom…..

      • Véronique Houde

        The only important constitutional amendment is the second one. Didn’t you know that?!

      • Kay_Sue

        Hey, hey, hey. That’s the one that keeps the guv’ment from violating all of the other ones, like, you know freedom of religion. Don’t you know that? You can trust me, I’m a firearms enthusiast.

      • El Guapo

        Well, not the ENTIRE 2nd Amendment– don’t forget to cross out that pesky part about a “well regulated militia.”

    • Reba

      I grew up on Georgia and we have always had “moment of reflection” for about a minute or two during the morning announcements “Please pause for the moment of silent reflection” or whatever. I think this is nice because it doesn’t put any religious stuff on anyone (I am avidly anti-organized religion), but allows for everyone who wants to to pray silently or for others to just be quiet or to meditate for a moment on their day.

      It sickens me that PUBLIC schools are like that – I plan to homeschool and this makes me feel a lot better about my decision.

      • brebay

        “Moment of reflection” is like “powdering your nose.” Everybody knows what it’s really for. It’s still an implied time for religious/spiritual activity. Kids daydream plenty during class; they can pray or “silently reflect then.”

      • Kheldarson

        There’s a difference though: it’s inclusive of all religions while not alienating nonreligious. Heck, you don’t even have to pray during that moment; nobody will know you’re still studying the notes you left on your desk because, God forgive me, I forgot to study. Again.

      • brebay

        It absolutely alienates non-religious by normalizing religion as opposed to non. It’s a public school. An endorsement if religion is unconstitutional whether or not it is specific. Just because you think you can make it all non-biased doesn’t make it any less illegal. Take your morning prayer time at home, this just has no place in a public school schedule.

    • SarahJesness

      Even ignoring how wrong it is, 15 minutes?! American schools often don’t have enough time to teach everything as it is! 15 minutes on prayer is such a fucking waste! Ah well. This won’t hold up in the Supreme Court. I hope there are lawsuits when kids get upset that they aren’t able to pray to Odin/Allah/Hindu-Gods/whatever.

      • keelhaulrose

        That cry of determination is a thousand atheists/non-mainstream religious types fighting to be the first to challenge this in court. If it passes it won’t last a week.

      • SarahJesness

        Ha, agreed. I bet the ACLU is already getting ready.

      • Roberta

        Trying to get kids to focus on praying for 15 minutes is simply insane.I teach Sunday School, we purposefully teach Grace’s that are under 10 seconds. Why? Because they have no patience for the stuff.

        Seriously, on top of all of the moral crap of no faith in schools, they are going to bore the classes to death before homeroom.

      • SarahJesness

        I went to a Catholic elementary school and on an average day, we spent a few minutes praying. That was it.

      • Sesnz

        Agreed. My kids go to a catholic school and their morning prayers don’t take that long. Actually, I think all their prayers in a day wouldn’t even add up to 15 minutes.

      • Ddaisy

        I had one religion teacher in high school who spent up to 20 minutes praying at the start of each class. Sometimes more. He was a really good teacher in every other aspect, but holy cow, could he ever drag those prayers out. Kids routinely fell sound asleep during his prayers.

        Luckily, he was one of a kind, and every other prayer I ever said or sat through in all my years of Catholic school took under 30 seconds each.

      • Smishsmash

        Thanks Alabama for the opportunity to blow millions of dollars to have the Supreme Court laugh in the face of whichever idiot that this was even remotely constitutional! Nothing else I can think of that we could have spent that taxpayer money in. Nope!

    • Angela

      I could understand if they wanted to give the students 15 min of silence so that they could pray, meditate, or (most likely) sleep. I’d think it was kind of pointless since students are already free to offer up a silent prayer whenever they want and it wastes valuable class time but at least it’s not discriminatory. I also could understand if they allowed students to form voluntary prayer groups to meet before school each day. But this is just absurd. It’s bad enough for the students but I can’t imagine how I’d feel as a teacher if I were forced to lead students in prayer. This disgusts me.

    • Crusty Socks

      Eve, I think everyone on M’ish should spend 15 mins every morning upvoting all my comments.

      • Maria Guido

        Don’t we already do that, Lord Crusty Socks?

      • Amber Starr

        AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMEN.

      • Crusty Socks

        Holy Shart! I have accomplished one of my internets goals

    • tk88

      People seem to believe that “Freedom of Religion” now overrides “Separation of Church and State”. How is this allowed? And really…15 minutes is a LONG time. For God’s sake I think my recess in elementary school was 15 minutes.

      • Angela

        Plus the fact that forcing people to attend worship is the opposite of freedom of religion. They seem to take ‘freedom of religion’ to mean ‘freedom to force my religion onto everyone else’.

      • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

        “Freedom for everyone to be Christian, preferably my chosen denomination although the others are okay. But not Catholic. Or Methodist, except the really strict ones.”

      • Jell

        Too many Christians believe that their freedom of religion is absolutely paramount, never mind the freedom that other people have. And that it overrules anything to do with the secular state.
        When the secular state protects my rights as a Christian and holds them equal (not above, but equal) to those of any other faith, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do. Everything about this 15 minutes of prayer flies in the face of religious freedom. Even the bill itself looks suspiciously like they’re trying to play up the “teaching ids about our gov’t” angle, like they’re pulling one over on us or something.
        Separation of Church and state is protecting us, not inhibiting us. When I see crap like this I want to roll my eyes and say, “Oh so tell me again how we’re the victims of a secular nation.” Please.

      • Kelly

        I’ve had people tell me directly to my face that I must follow their religion or else I’m infringing upon their freedom of religion because their religion dictates that everyone must BELIEVE. Apparently I’m not entitled to any religious freedom of my own.

        There’s just no arguing with that level of stupid.

      • Mystik Spiral

        Ah yes, the favorite argument of religious homophobes. Allowing gay marriage is infringing on their right to practice their own religion!!! It is an almost unbelievable level of stupid, for sure…

    • brebay

      Nonsense. If you want to start your day with prayer, meditation, reflection, whatever; get up 15 minutes earlier; this is not what school is for.

      • personal

        I wish I could ‘like’ this more than once.

    • Rachel Sea

      I think the point is that they don’t give a crap if you aren’t Christian, they want to shove their religion down the throats of every child so that they can have their “Christian Nation” unopposed. Anyone who disagrees is an agent of Satan, so it’s their duty to shout us down.

      Not to mention that a population which has learned blind obedience (as fundamentalist religion requires) is a lot easier to control.

      • SarahJesness

        … The real point is, this won’t stand up in court. Someone is gonna sue immediately when they learn they have to pray to a Christian god. I bet the ACLU is already getting ready…

    • Muggle

      So… what are the Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, pagan and atheist etc. kids supposed to do? Just announce that they’re not Christians and face ridicule from their classmates and possibly harassment from their teachers?

      This bullshit makes me want to homeschool my kids. Just think, 20 years from now homeschooling will no longer be associated with religious fundamentalists, but with atheists who don’t want dogmatic bullshit* forced down their throats at school.

      *Not saying that religion IS dogmatic bullshit in and of itself, but if it’s state-sponsored it almost certainly is.

      • brebay

        They’re supposed to wonder why the hell they live in Alabama!

      • footnotegirl

        According to the people putting this bullpucky through, they are SUPPOSED to become Christians. That’s kind of the whole point.

    • brebay

      Recess is cut, PE is cut, lunch is TWELVE minutes at my kids’ school, but Alabama, already one of the least literate states, found 15 minutes of fuckaround time? Are you allowed to study during that time, or must you sit quietly with your hands, oh, I don’t know, in some type of “folded” position?

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        I don’t teach in Alabama, but if I did, the 15 min. would go like this. First I’d teach them how to make really nice book covers out of paper bags. Then we’d write “Bible” on them. Then I’d say, “ok guys, if you wanna pray, go ahead. If you want to read (your bibles) that’s cool.” Hopefully the kids will get that they can slip whatever book they want into that cover and no one will know without my having to say that aloud and upset folks :)

    • Kay_Sue

      If folks truly believe prayer is that important, they need to teach their kids to take it there. It’s not the school’s responsibility, and they have enough on their plates.

    • http://mother--bored.tumblr.com/ Aimee Ogden

      Between standardized tests and their prep and the daily prayer session, I assume we’re just going to do away with any actual instruction in Alabama schools in order to save time.

      • brebay

        Blessed are the daft, for they shall inherit the Confederacy.

      • Sri

        Super late to the party, here, but I’ve seen a lot of acquaintances who identify as fitting in with the religious right refer to CCSS as “communist core” and think that it’s an Obama plot to turn all of the kids into Marxists with evil evil national curriculum standards. So, they probably have no shits to give about actual instruction. I assume that they’re going to use the time that they would have used to teach science literacy, critical thinking skills, and finding reliable sources to institute school prayer time.

        At first, I was chagrined that I agreed with them about something, like the hatred of CCSS. Then I realized that no, no, they hate it because Obama. I dislike it because it directly links teacher performance measurements and school funding to high stakes tests without enough sensitivity to things like special education concerns, English language learners, or poverty.

    • Paul White

      15 minutes?
      I’m probably hwat you’d class a fundamentalist, theologically. Don’t confuse me with the political religious right please, I’m not compatible with them. I recognize the unique equality in the damnation of sin.

      But I’ve rarley if ever prayed for 15 minutes. A brief “God, forgive me for what I have done and will do” sufficies ifi t’s heartfelt. Sheesh.

      Luther would turn over in his grave. Have these nitwits ever read him? Brief and to the point. Calvin is another matter–that SOB was increidbly longwinded–but since Luther gave birth to Protestantism, WTH. Start with him.

      • Sara610

        The problem is that you probably know a lot more about Christian theology than the authors of this bill. I’ve found that those who are most in favor of violating others’ civil rights in the name of “Christianity” are usually the ones who know the least about it.

        This reminds me of when my husband and I got engaged. I’m Jewish, my husband was raised evangelical fundamentalist Christian but now identifies as a “friendly atheist”, and we’re raising our daughter Jewish and keeping a Jewish home. In short, not even remotely what the rest of my husband’s family looks like from a religious perspective. In spite of that, the vast, VAST majority of them have been nothing but wonderful and welcoming to me and my entire family. When I told my dad about what my initial experiences had been like meeting my in-laws, he said…… “Oh, so you mean they’re Christians who actually behave like Christians. That’s good.” And that was the end of the conversation.

    • RayneofCastamere

      This is completely unconstitutional and wrong. Children with other religious beliefs or no religious beliefs are completely having their rights VIOLATED by being forced to pray. Christian children are having their rights violated by being forced to pray. The teachers are having their rights violated by being forced to enforce this.

      Yeah, pretty much everyone’s having their rights violated. It a Rights-Violationpalooza. Bring your friends.

      These kids should use these minutes to offer up praise to Cthulhu as loud as they can. It would technically count as prayer, and it would royally piss off the idiots who passed this “law.” (It’s illegal, so I don’t think of it as a law at all.) CTHULHU FHTAGN!

      • Kay_Sue

        Here’s some rights violations for YOU, and some rights violations for YOU, and some for YOU and we aren’t going to forget YOU back in there in the back either! CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS FOR EVERYONE!

      • RayneofCastamere

        Stop by your nearest Alabama school and get YOUR constitutional rights violation today!

      • Joye77

        Oooh, a rights-violationpalooza, love it!

    • Kelly

      As a rebellious teenager I would have insisted on praying to my personal God during this time, the dark Lord, Satan.

      • NotTakenNotAvailable

        I would’ve straggled in fifteen minutes after “class” started, claiming truthfully that I’d been using those fifteen minutes to honor my personal favorite god, Morpheus.

      • the_ether

        as a pagan, I find prayer more effective when it’s performed naked. 15 minute nudie run!

    • Lucy67

      I’m Christian and honestly I wouldn’t want my kids morning at school to start this way. If I wanted them to start with a prayer I’d send them to a private religious school. I think every person is entitled to their own beliefs and forcing this onto kids is just wrong. I like that my kids have friends from different religions because it exposes them to new things

    • Amber Starr

      I’m pretty sure that that 15 minutes would be better spent making sure that these kids, oh I don’t know, learn basic math or reading comprehension. You know, things that will actually HELP them. (And this is coming from someone who is christian.)

      • Sara610

        Nooooo!
        First of all, math, much like the dark demonic art known as science, is the work of Satan. Next you’ll be saying that kids should learn evolution in school or that the Bible isn’t an appropriate history textbook. Crazy lady……
        Second of all, why would we want kids to develop reading comprehension? If they know how to read and then think critically about what they’ve read, then they might learn that it’s okay to disagree with what your parents or church elders have taught you. They might even decide that they want to choose another path entirely, and that would just be the downfall of humanity. In the worst possible case scenario, they might become……I can’t even say it. (Atheists.)

      • Amber Starr

        You’re right. I must repent for my sins. Or……… yeah, I’m gonna have a beer and thank the god of skinny punks that I don’t live in Alabama.
        :)

      • Blueathena623

        15 minutes of low-impact and variable exercise, since so many schools are cutting PE and recess AND exercise increases brain function.

      • Amber Starr

        That’s actually a REALLY good idea! Or, hell, even a daily 15 minute discussion on bullying and how to handle it. ANYTHING would be more useful than forcing kids to pretend to pray.

      • Blueathena623

        15 minutes spent on anything that is being cut from the curriculum because of standardized testing. Or a mini talent show. Practicing how to say hello in different languages. Basics of balancing a checkbook. Stretching. Trying to figure out the best way to fix XXX problem.
        I personally think a free 15 minutes at the start of the day is AWESOME if you are able to do anything you want with it and aren’t forcing kids to pray.

    • Sarah Penny

      Wow this is totally illegal. If they ever pulled bs like this at my hs my parents and I would flip out – we believe in god, but we also believe in freedom of religion.

    • julesgilead

      I’ll just quote what Southern humorist and newspaper columnist Lewis Grizzard said on this subject –

      “Let’s say we finally end this fracas and we remove all
      semblance of religion from our public schools.

      Tell your kid to pray before he or she goes to school.

      “Dear God, please get me through one more day of algebra.”

      Or tell your child to pray when he or she gets home from school.

      “Dear God, thank you for letting me get through one more day of algebra.”

      Nobody, not even the Supreme Court, can stop your child from praying
      in school, for that matter. All your child has to do is tune out for a
      couple of seconds and say a little private silent prayer.

      “Dear God, please don’t let the algebra teacher call on me.”

      I’ve always thought God probably listens more closely to silent, individual
      prayers anyway.”

      –It’s been thirty years since this piece was written, and, sadly, it’s still relevant today.

    • SNOWSCAS81

      I don’t understand this at all. So it’s ok for that “Christian” doctor to refuse to treat the woman who was a surrogate? And for business owners in Arizona to refuse service to people they suspect to be gay? Because it’s against their religion? But suddenly it’s cool to force children whose parents may not be Christian or even WANT their kids to be exposed to religion to pray for 15 minutes each morning at a PUBLIC school? This is outrageous. Seriously, can someone please explain how this can POSSIBLY be legal?

    • K.

      Wait, wait, wait…If they’re gonna spend 15 minutes on Christian prayer every morning, then I DEMAND that they spend 3 of those minutes talking about Darwin.

      I mean, I have faith in science. Isn’t that the same thing? Faith??

    • Shelly Lloyd

      I’m ok with this as long as we can start the day celebrating Dionysus. Cause you’d need it if you lived in ‘Bama.

    • Lackadaisical

      I was about to get all smug about my Englishness and make some kind of “wouldn’t do that here” comment … and then I remembered that all the kids in every UK school meets for assembly in the school hall first thing every morning and that assembly consists of a speech from the head or a teacher to the whole school (or sometimes a class or a guest) usually followed by a prayer and hymn. The speech doesn’t have to be Christian or bible related but it does have to have ethical content and is often Christian or bible related. When the local church come in to my kids school to give an assembly the children who are exempt for religious reasons get to sit in the library for a bit. This is the practice for all UK schools, not just church schools. I shall now slink off and hang my head in shame as we seem to be worse than you on this one.

      • Lackadaisical

        Further to this, here is the UK law or worship in schools for ordinary state schools unaffiliated with a church. My American friends, you may now point, laugh and sneer at us for being rather outdated or just smile in a smug and patronising way in revenge for all the times we point out the different way we do things abroad in terms of health care, welfare benefits and family planning rights.

        * The head teacher is responsible for arranging daily collective worship (assembly);
        * Daily collective worship must be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character but only 51 per cent need be identifiably ‘Christian’ with the remaining 49 per cent reflecting other faiths or ‘interests’ over the course of a year;
        * It can happen at any time of the school day and should generally happen on the school premises;
        * Parents can withdraw children from assemblies;
        * Teachers may withdraw from assemblies;
        * The school’s annual prospectus should carry information about collective worship and how parents may withdraw their children from it;

      • brebay

        The opting out creates a coercive environment through social stigma. We’re not mocking you, we’re just following our constitution. It’s different from the way your country works. But it’s how legality of state acts is determined in the US. Federal law trumps state law where the 2 conflict, and this cannot be upheld in the US. That’s not smug, it’s just law. If we wanted to follow British rule, we wouldn’t have, you know, had that whole war thing.

      • Lackadaisical

        You are completely right and can mock if you desire. On this particular issue we have it so utterly wrong here in the UK and your constitution is right. I am going to go and tip a tea bag down the sink in your honour (although you notice I am clinging on to the extra u in honour).

        Yes, my experience in schools is that the kids who are opted out by their parents are made to feel different in a negative rather than a positive and celebratory way. No matter how discreet the teachers are about pulling them out, and even if their classmates don’t notice, those kids feel other and isolated from their friends. It also creates division between kids whose families are devout enough to not want their kids to participate in christian worship and those of the same religion whose parents prioritize mingling, both views I understand and respect. You put the kids in the library where they socialise and you are telling them that these are their people, the ones who understand being separated and the other kids of their religion aren’t a part of that because their parents chose to make them compromise their beliefs to fit in. I think it is awful but as it is the law schools have to do it.

        I honestly can’t find a good thing to say about this. If religion was kept out then assemblies would be a good thing, with an opportunity for the head to pass on important information and the kids to sit and think together about important social issues. Put religion in it and it is bad.

      • brebay

        I don’t desire to mock, which is why I didn’t mock. Technically, in American schools, you can also opt out of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but that doesn’t mean kids (particularly in the rural area I used to live in) aren’t hassled, mocked, and ostracized by teachers as well as students for opting out. My kids went through the motions because they didn’t want to be hassled more than they already were for not being Christian. This plan is absurd and unconstitutional, and it will fail on appeal if it passes. However, many kids will suffer while the appeal is pending. And you can “respect both views” as much as you like, my point is that neither “view” matters when one is illegal.

    • CrazyFor Kate

      If I taught there, the state would suddenly be filled with angry parents whose kids had converted to Pastafarianism at school…

    • Elisa Probert

      I’m agnostic. Grew up Christian, gave it up because it didn’t make any sense at all to me as an adult. Even before that though, 15 minutes of prayer? That was a guarantee that I’d be asleep!!!

      I know my mom would probably say that not wanting a mandated prayer time is seeking freedom FROM religion, but insisting that the prayer be to the Christian version of god, is NOT freedom OF religion.

    • George Frayer

      I have no problems with kids praying in school to whatever deity they worship if any. But when you force someone to do so, is when the line gets crossed.