Re: School Prayer Will Solve Everything.

I’ve heard for a long time from evangelical christians the revised version of american history that says that everything went to shit the second prayer was taken out of public schools.  It’s worth mentioning that prayer isn’t actually forbidden in public schools, just forced or institutionalized prayer – as someone once said, as long as there are math tests there will always be prayer in public schools. 

But according to these evangelists, taking institutionalized prayer and bible readings out of public schools is the cause of school shootings, sexual promiscuity, teen pregnancy, corporate greed and anything else they don’t like that happened after the 1962 court ruling.

A few problems with this.  One is that school shootings were actually fairly common before that court ruling – here is the wikipedia list for the 1950’s when there was school prayer:

  • April 25, 1950: Peru, Nebraska Dr. William Nicholas, 48, president of Peru State College and Dr. Paul Maxwell, 56, education department head, were shot to death at their desks by Dr. Barney Baker, 54-year-old psychology professor. Baker was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot at his home on campus.
  • July 22, 1950: New York City, New York A 16-year-old boy was shot in the wrist and abdomen at the Public School 141 dance during an argument with a former classmate.
  • March 12, 1951: Union Mills, North Carolina Professor W. E. Sweatt, superintendent and teacher at the Alexander School, was shot to death by students Billy Ray Powell, 16, and Hugh Justice, 19. The assailants had been reprimanded by Sweatt, and they waited for him as he locked his office door.
  • June 4, 1951: New York City, New York Carl Arch, a 50-year-old intruder to a girl’s gym class, was shot and killed by a police officer at Manhattan’s Central Commercial High School.
  • November 27, 1951: New York City, New York David Brooks, a 15-year-old student, was fatally shot as fellow pupils looked on in a grade school.
  • April 9, 1952: New York City, New York A 15-year-old boarding school student shot a dean rather than relinquish pin-up pictures of girls in bathing suits.
  • July 14, 1952: New York City, New York Bayard Peakes walked in to the offices of the American Physical Society (APS) at Columbia University and shot and killed secretary Eileen Fahey with a .22 caliber pistol. Peakes was reportedly upset that the APS had rejected a pamphlet he had written.
  • September 3, 1952: in Lawrenceville, Illinois After Georgine Lyon, 25, ended her engagement with Charles Petrach, Petrach shot and killed Lyon in a classroom at Lawrenceville High School where she worked as a librarian.
  • November 20, 1952: New York City, New York Rear Admiral E. E. Herrmann, 56, superintendent of the Naval Postgraduate School, was found dead in his office with a bullet in his head. A service revolver was found by his side.
  • October 2, 1953: Chicago, Illinois Patrick Colletta,14, was shot to death by Bernice Turner,14, in a classroom of Kelly High School. It was reported that after Turner refused to date Colletta he handed her the gun and dared her to pull the trigger, telling her that the gun was “only a toy.” A coroner’s jury later ruled that the shooting was an accident.
  • October 8, 1953: New York City, New York Larry Licitra, 17-year-old student at the Machine and Metal Trades High School, was shot and slightly wounded in the right shoulder in the lobby of the school while inspecting a handmade pistol owned by one of several students.
  • March 31, 1954: Newton, Massachusetts John Frankenberger, 14, was accidentally shot to death in a classroom at Day Junior High School when a pistol being held by a classmate discharged.
  • May 15, 1954: Chapel Hill, North Carolina Putnam Davis Jr. was shot and killed during a fraternity house carnival at the Phi Delta Theta house at the University of North Carolina. William Joyner and Allen Long were shot and wounded during the exchange of gunfire in their fraternity bedroom. The incident took place after an all-night beer party. Mr. Long reported to the police that, while the three were drinking beer at 7 a.m., Davis pulled out a gun and started shooting with a gun he had obtained from the car of a former roommate.
  • January 11, 1955: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania After some of his dormmates urinated on his mattress, Bob Bechtel, a 20-year-old student at Swarthmore College, returned to his dorm with a shotgun and used it to shoot and kill fellow student Holmes Strozier.
  • May 4, 1956: Prince George’s County, Maryland 15-year-old student Billy Prevatte fatally shot one teacher and injured two others at Maryland Park Junior High School after he had been reprimanded from the school.
  • October 20, 1956: New York City, New York A Booker T. Washington Junior High School student was wounded in the forearm by another student armed with a home-made weapon.
  • October 2, 1957: New York City, New York A 16-year old student was shot in the leg by a 15-year old classmate at a city high school.
  • March 4, 1958: New York City, New York A 17-year-old student shot a boy in the Manual Training High School.
  • May 1, 1958: Massapequa, New York A 15-year-old high Massapequa High School freshman was shot and killed by a classmate in a washroom.
  • September 24, 1959: New York City, New York Twenty-seven men and boys and an arsenal were seized in the Bronx as the police headed off a gang war resulting from the fatal shooting of a teenager at Morris High School.

Wikipedia also lists school shootings in the united states going back to the 1700’s (the united states didn’t exist in the 1600’s).  What seems to have changed is not the fact that students occasionally kill people, or even how often they tend to do so, but how many people they actually kill – and the increase coincides perfectly with the invention and availability of semi-automatic and automatic weapons.  After all in the 1700’s muzzle loading musket type guns required training to use and even then you could only kill one person before having to begin an extensive reloading process, during which time the other students, teachers etc would apprehend you.  The only advantage was being able to kill someone at a distance – a knife would be deadlier in close quarters.  But with guns that fire multiple rounds you can kill five, ten, 20, 30 people before being stopped.  And of course explosives are even worse, which is why to date the deadliest school shooting involved bombs and took place in the 1920’s.

Other problems in society such as sexual promiscuity are a necessary evil, you can either oppress women and keep them in burkas or you can have a free society and ads with tits in them every five feet.  You can’t have freedom without some people using that freedom to do things you find distasteful. 

Like with most things evangelists claim, I’d actually agree with them if the premise of their argument was sound.  If saying a prayer in schools every day would solve all the world’s problems and the world had systematically gone to shit since we stopped doing that, I’d be tempted to say “screw separation of church and state, lets get kids praying!”  But both assertions are dead wrong – society didn’t go to shit with one court ruling.  Greed and corruption and dicks in asses and all the things evangelists don’t like existed for thousands of years prior to that court ruling.  The runaway greed of banks and corporations?  Do you think this is anything new?  Look into the gilded age and the depression that followed, or the causes of the black friday stock market crash.  It’s the same cycle economies have followed for ages.  Like the 2012 myan calendar nonsense it’s not the end of the world, just the end of a cycle.  Do you think we’re more decadent than ancient rome?  We’ve got game shows that humiliate people, they fed people to lions as a form of entertainment.  I can’t think of any sexually deviant behavior that is actually new.  Vibrators were invented in the 1800’s, dildos are found among the ruins of pretty much every ancient civilization (the oldest one ever discovered is 28,000 years old and carved from “highly polished” stone). 

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

– Ecclesiastes 1:9

Speaking of dildos and doing things again:

“Thou hast also taken thy fair jewels of my gold and of my silver, which I had given thee, and madest to thyself images of men, and didst commit whoredom with them…”

– Ezekiel 16:17

So as it so often does it comes down to the age old question – do you want to accept some of the actual wisdom and insight in your religion’s founding text, or the ignorant fear-mongering nonsense of the jackasses who promote it?

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About agnophilo

Nerd.
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22 Responses to Re: School Prayer Will Solve Everything.

  1. NeverSubmit says:

    Then of course, there is the fact that there is nothing more blatantly superstitious about evangelicals than the idea that making more people agree with their peculiar theology will make anything better.  May as well throw salt over your shoulder. 

  2. Another very eye opening blog. I have become fascinated with the way you think and how you word things. I enjoy your blogs. Thanks.

  3. davidian says:

    we wouldn’t have any issues if those school prayers were led by guards armed with assault rifles.  🙂

  4. leaflesstree says:

    I had no idea such things as school shootings had gone on that long, but it doesn’t really surprise me. As long as you have weapons of any kind there will be the potential for accidents as well as angry or mentally unstable people using them to harm the innocent. Prayer definitely isn’t the solution, and certainly not enforced prayer to a god the student may not believe in. Evangelicals always seem to forget about the millions of students who are not Christians. That arrogance is what annoys me.

  5. maniacsicko says:

    wow…   why are there always people who want to kill people?    (then again, if the list is to include the events of people that hurt/injure other people, the list might be much longer..  still, i’m wondering, why are people like that existing in the first place?)

  6. amygwen says:

    I have a gift for you. Steal the last picture I uploaded.

  7. whyzat says:

    Last night on “Blue Bloods” we saw another prayer cause another seeming miracle. I know I see it through my atheist eyes, and most people will just nod their heads, but it irks me all the same. They pray a lot on that show, but I still watch it because it’s a good cop show and has Tom Selleck in it. I can ignore the prayer because I know the difference between fiction and reality.

  8. TheSutraDude says:

    “Prayer in school will solve everything.” Wing nuts.Reminds me of elementary school and the drills during which we went into the hall, sat cross-legged facing the wall and put our heads between our legs for several minutes. We were told doing that would keep us safe in the event of a nuclear attack on our town. 

  9. @TheSutraDude – we did the same thing up until 1974. thing is, they told us it was a tornado drill. funny thing about tornadoes is that they don’t do well in valleys, or so I have been told. I lived in NE Kentucky, with the Ohio River approx. 3/4 of a mile from the school where every classroom had glass picture windows. the local steel mill, oil refinery and rail center made us a secondary target for nuclear attack. nuclear weapons was something they never told us about, and I guess it is because all the teachers grew up with it in the 1950s and 1960s. guess they had enough of that fear so they watered down the truth on behalf of my generation. How much of the world do you see in the following:Isaiah 1:2-20 2 Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth!    For the Lord has spoken:“I reared children and brought them up,    but they have rebelled against me.3 The ox knows its master,    the donkey its owner’s manger,but Israel does not know,    my people do not understand.”4 Woe to the sinful nation,    a people whose guilt is great,a brood of evildoers,    children given to corruption!They have forsaken the Lord;    they have spurned the Holy One of Israel    and turned their backs on him.5 Why should you be beaten anymore?    Why do you persist in rebellion?Your whole head is injured,    your whole heart afflicted.6 From the sole of your foot to the top of your head    there is no soundness—only wounds and welts    and open sores,not cleansed or bandaged    or soothed with olive oil.7 Your country is desolate,    your cities burned with fire;your fields are being stripped by foreigners    right before you,    laid waste as when overthrown by strangers.8 Daughter Zion is left    like a shelter in a vineyard,like a hut in a cucumber field,    like a city under siege.9 Unless the Lord Almighty    had left us some survivors,we would have become like Sodom,    we would have been like Gomorrah.10 Hear the word of the Lord,    you rulers of Sodom;listen to the instruction of our God,    you people of Gomorrah!11 “The multitude of your sacrifices—    what are they to me?” says the Lord.“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,    of rams and the fat of fattened animals;I have no pleasure    in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.12 When you come to appear before me,    who has asked this of you,    this trampling of my courts?13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!    Your incense is detestable to me.New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—    I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals    I hate with all my being.They have become a burden to me;    I am weary of bearing them.15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,    I hide my eyes from you;even when you offer many prayers,    I am not listening.Your hands are full of blood!16 Wash and make yourselves clean.    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;    stop doing wrong.17 Learn to do right; seek justice.    Defend the oppressed.]”=””>[a]Take up the cause of the fatherless;    plead the case of the widow.18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,”says the Lord.“Though your sins are like scarlet,they shall be as white as snow;though they are red as crimson,they shall be like wool.19 If you are willing and obedient,you will eat the good things of the land;20 but if you resist and rebel,you will be devoured by the sword.”For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

  10. TheSutraDude says:

    @wordwarrior39 – It got me thinking today about how cruel it was, though not intentionally so, to scare the hell out of grade school kids then make them physically uncomfortable several times a year for no good reason. I see the world interpreted and misinterpreted in a lot of writings, religious writings of all kinds and faiths, philosophical writings of every age, poetry, pop music and novels. 

  11. @TheSutraDude – the teachers were just following orders. I never got scared by what we were doing, but it did seem a waste of time.Some people get it right. Some people miss the point. Its a drag feeling like we have to take sides when it looks like both sides are wrong. I listen to the rhetoric of atheists concerning Christians. Based on my understanding of God, I think there are more times when He agrees with them than not concerning the behavior of those who claim to be His followers. Then again, based on my understanding of God, I think He is disappointed in atheists for their understanding but lack of faith and action, for if they know what is right, why are they not doing it? I will not speak concerning the human race. I will speak only for myself. I am so screwed without God. Have a great day.

  12. To even imply that God (if he does exist) only cares about children in schools who participate in group prayer is blasphemous.  Who are these evangelists who claim to know the will of God?  What makes them privy to information that the rest of us only think we know??If this God allows or condones violence against innocent children brings me to a place of serious questioning about my notion of a loving God. 

  13. vexations says:

    I like your satire. @davidian – 

  14. vexations says:

    Yes, I did those too.  At that time the USA had many underground sites with missiles aimed at the Soviet Union and we in South Dakota were considered a prime target for a return attack.  The missiles are there no longer. Bottom line, hiding under the desk was not likely to do much good.  We did have designated shelters, some with food and water supplies.    @TheSutraDude – 

  15. vexations says:

    There is another point that some people miss and that is that a believer in one faith may think it a sacrilege to pray to a god different than the one they worship.  For example, a devote Lutheran may not want to pray in the company of a Catholic who has quite different beliefs.  

  16. Ikwa says:

    @vexations – I say this all the time. I rather teach them prayer.

  17. Ikwa says:

    I agree that saying there is no God is school because they do not have a mass prayer is Baloney. Mass prayer didn’t stop the shooter who went to church AND was HOME SCHOOLED!

  18. TheSutraDude says:

    @vexations – Ah yes. We didn’t have shelters that I know of. I remember seeing ads on TV for do-it-yourself shelter kits. I also remember The Twilight Zone episode about the one guy in a community who had built a shelter. All the neighbors wanted in when the bomb hit. 

  19. whyzat says:

    @TheSutraDude – I remember that episode and it made me feel sick. Of course, most of the Twilight Zone episodes had such strong irony in them, that they effected me somehow.

  20. TheSutraDude says:

    @whyzat – I think many Twilight Zone episodes contained stories with moral lessons. What I’m ever amazed at is how many acting careers were launched with appearances on Twilight Zone. Jack Klugman, Agnes Moorehead, Elizabeth Montgomery, Ernest Borgnine, William Shatner, Robert Duvall, Claire Grishold, Burt Reynolds, Carol Burnett, Cloris Leachman and Leonard Nimoy were but a few. 

  21. whyzat says:

    @TheSutraDude – Rod Serling knew how to pick ’em. Also, many of them were stage actors who had come to Hollywood to make some money!

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