Of lambs and prayer in schools

A chain letter made itself into my in-box a few days ago and seems to be getting around everywhere. The main text of it you can see here and scattered around the intertubes here and there. Apparently there’s even year 2000 version. To save clicking time, here it is:

Mary, had a little Lamb
Mary, had a little Lamb,
His fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went,
The Lamb was sure to go.

He followed her to school each day,
T’wasn’t even in the rule.
It made the children laugh and play,
To have The Lamb at school..

And then the rules all changed one day,
Illegal it became;
To bring The Lamb of God to school,
Or even speak His Name!

Every day got worse and worse,
And days turned into years.
Instead of hearing children laugh,
We heard gun shots and tears.

What must we do to stop the crime,
That’s in our schools today?
Let’s let The Lamb come back to school,
And teach our kids to pray!

It is said that 86% of the World’s people believe in God. Why don’t we just tell the other 14% to be quiet and sit down?

Aw. The emotional strings are tugged. Can’t we allow the Lamb back in school? Let’s examine this a tad more closely. Is the writer of the chain-mail implying that kids can only learn to pray at school? Is there some reason they can’t learn to talk to imaginary beings at home or in the church? I must also be missing the critical thinking element that shows causation between lack of school prayer and school problems. Let’s further probe the implications here.

The 86% figure of the “World’s” people believing in God looks like it was a recent addition to this chain email compared to other versions I’ve seen on the web. As was the request for us atheists to, in other words, shut up. They seem to be saying that 86% of the world’s population, being theist, will be on the side of prayer in school. ReligiousTolerance.org helps us out by breaking this down a bit further. It looks like 33% of the planet’s inhabitants claim to be Christian. In addition, we have 19.6% Muslim, 13.4% Hindu, “non-religious” at 12.7%, and we eventually get to atheists at a too small 2.5%. Lumping the big three together gets us at 66% (I’ve neglected Taoists, Buddhists, Chinese folk religions, etc. for space). Indeed, it does look as though a majority of the world’s population is still theistic in some form or another. So, to be fair, 33% of school days should be have a Christian prayer (dividing that up among the various denominations and sects, I imagine), 19.6% Muslim prayer days, and 13.4% Hindu (probably again divided up among devotees of Lakshmi, Shiva, Ganesha, Vishnu, etc.). Of course, divide up the rest of the days among the various other religions according to percentage. After all, to single out one prayer type would be government official recognition of one religion and that is unconstitutional. Perhaps it should be done by the majority of the local population? This would be a tacit and hurtful exclusion of others with minority religious beliefs. Would Christian parents be fine if their community had a large influx of Muslim immigrants so their local schools now had to do Muslim prayers? Somehow I suspect that the agenda is “freedom” of having unconstitutional school sanctioned Christian prayer.

As for the call for free thinkers and unbelievers to sit down and be quiet, that is the one thing we can no longer do. If anything, we need to become more visible. The fact that chain emails like this are being distributed, and, in fact, actually taken seriously, is reason enough.

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2 Responses to “Of lambs and prayer in schools”

  1. Joshua Zelinsky Says:

    Since “Lamb” is a Christian term for Jesus, this really should only apply to the Christians. It wouldn’t surprise me if the person who made this is enough of an idiot to not understand that believing in God is not the same as being Christian.

    This is backed up by the fact that 86% was an often cited number for the fraction of the US that was Christian in the 1990s. (http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_studies/aris.pdf cites that to a 1990 study but I haven’t tracked down a copy on the web). Thus, the individual is likely confusing a number they heard about the US (the percentage that was Christian) with the worldwide percentage that believes in God.

  2. liquidthinker Says:

    Very true about the Lamb as Jesus observation. Of course, I knew this bit of correspondence was about Christian prayer (especially considering from whom I received it), but since tacked onto this chain mail was a kind of claim for implicit support of 86% of the world’s population, I thought it would be interesting to follow that through.

    In fact, a 2001 reference I found shows from 1990 to 2001, 76.5% Christians in the U.S. (up 5% in that time period). Secular or non-religious was 13.2%, up 110%. Another link I found showed 81% of American adults being in some form of specific religion while 14.1% do not associate with any organized religion (not to be confused with having no belief at all). What was promising is that there is a mention of an increase in the number of atheists, agnostics, and humanists. The probably more recently updated Pew Forum has “Unaffiliated” at 16.1% (though only small percentages of that call themselves atheist or agnostic). It might be interesting to go over these percentages in more detail one of these days.

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