Generally I refrain from posting things I know will upset or irk people.
I suppose that’s not really true.
But given the general temperament of my Facebook feed, this may raise hackles.
Last week, we were fully immersed in getting ready for the return to school. Backpacks detrashed, lunchboxes found. Ava’s obnoxious feathers placed.
Late one afternoon, I received a call from the number I have saved in my phone as “AUTOMATED SCHOOL DEMON” – the number that calls when roads are flooded, a kid has disappeared, or cattle are loose. I turned on the speaker (but didn’t speak – I’ve caught myself talking to that machine too many times and now I’m wise to the game), expecting a reminder about not bringing guns or knives, or maybe a last minute nevermind-school-is-postponed-forever message.
Instead I got a recorded message inviting me not to forget about the upcoming “prayer walk” for parents of kids in the schools.
Now let me make one thing very, very clear.
If you are a kid in school and you want to say a prayer before you eat your lunch or take a test or walk on linoleum, I support that.
If you are a teacher and you want to send up a silent plea for mercy before you try and explain the branches of government, I support that.
If you want to bring your prayer rug and face Mecca between classes, I say go for it.
If you want to organize an event where people who are so inclined walk the halls and sidewalks of the school and pray for the students who will soon be present, I’m all for it! Bathe the desks and walls in prayer, and maybe that way my kids won’t eat boogers or mouth off (I may find religion if that works).
I will defend your right to do these things until my very last breath.
What I do not support is the use of school equipment, funds, and information to promote a religious function.
I never said, “Hey, sure, keep me posted about your rituals and gatherings.”
I didn’t say that because chances are I’m not coming.
It’s not because I don’t believe in God or I hate all religion or I think everyone should know that they know that they know whether they’re going to The Hell or not.
It’s because school is for LEARNING ABOUT THINGS THAT AREN’T RELIGION.
It’s because my son has already teared up more than once because he’s afraid his parents are going to hell.
Church is for religion.
Church schools are for the people who want everything to line up with what they believe.
School is not church. Amen.
I would rethink my stance if, say, I knew everyone’s beliefs would be equally welcomed. If the Muslims wanted to have a Q&A. If the Jews wanted to explain all the candles. If Pentecostals wanted to demonstrate hairspray usage. If the Mormons wanted to model Jesus underwear.
But that’s not happening. At least not here, because the vast majority of people believe the same way.
And that’s fine. What you believe is your business.
It’s when it starts being shoved at me and make it my business that I start caring.
I realize it’s election time and the superintendent was making sure everyone got catered to so as to put a good face on his campaign.
But just because the majority of people won’t care about the prayer walk phone call, or may even celebrate it, doesn’t make it okay. I’m not even sure it’s legal.
So please, pray. Fast. Sing. Speak in tongues.
Just don’t make me listen. Or watch. Or use the money I pay in taxes to promote it.
And in return, I will refrain from being an ass. Kind of.