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Our Schools Don’t Have a (mandated) Prayer, and I’m Glad December 16, 2012

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Christianity, Church, Family, Parenting/Children, Religion, Theology.

I don’t want a return to mandated prayer in schools. I have no idea what the theology of a random teacher might (or might not) be. I trust the instruction of theology to people who are trained to do so.

I don’t want the 10 Commandments posted in schools or other buildings paid for with tax dollars. My country was founded on more than this, and to suggest otherwise diminishes the genius of the Founding Fathers.

My sons never knew mandated school prayer. My sons don’t remember ever seeing the 10 Commandments posted in their school. The absence of these things did not diminish the presence of God in their lives at school.

My God doesn’t live in a document… not even the Bible. I don’t worship the Bible, or some specific section of it. The Bible isn’t magic, any more than the 10 Commandments printed on a piece of paper are magic. Treating it as such turns it into a talisman, which diminishes what it actually is.

My God doesn’t “show up” only when some public official gives Him permission. My God is omnipresent. You can’t “take Him out of public schools” any more than you can “take him to foreign lands.” If you believe in God but feel He’s not already there, then that thing you believe in isn’t much of a God, and it’s non-Biblical.

I am perfectly happy with either version of the Pledge of Allegiance, with or without the McCarthy-era inclusion of “under God” (intended to distinguish us from the “Godless Communists”), but if you make me choose one or the other, I’ll take the original version.

I don’t worship a God that wants or needs a coerced support, which is what the above things amount to.

I was raised in a Southern Baptist household, by a former Baptist minister who held dear the history of Baptists and Anabaptists who desperately did NOT want to live in a theocracy, even if it supported their views. In my youth, I was taught to respect and revere the names Smyth and Helwys and that the “separation of church and state” and “autonomy of the local church” taught by the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message was an outgrowth of their beliefs about religious liberty.

I was raised by a father who said, when the movie “The Last Temptation of Christ” was released and many Christians called for boycotts: “If our faith is so weak that it’s unravelled by a movie, then what we have isn’t really worth believing in… is it?”

I was raised by a man who was a degreed Mechanical Engineer, and who, at the time, was the first Speed Scientific School graduate to attempt to attend the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He taught me to always listen to doubts and question items of faith, as faith grows meaningless if you never examine hard questions. He told me, “If what I believe turns out to not be true, I want to be the first one to know… not the last.”

Lastly, I have no idea why an omnipotent God would choose to not intervene in Newton, CT or at any number of other tragic events. The presence of overwhelming evil seems daunting. Like the Biblical Job, I have the impunity to ask, but I gain no understanding or satisfactory answers.

Having no answers, I’m endeavoring to respond the only way I know how, which is to combat evil acts with good. Regardless of your theology (or lack thereof), I hope you will choose to do the same.



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