Social Question

casheroo's avatar

Why do(some of) those who pray feel it should be forced upon others?

Asked by casheroo (18091points) June 2nd, 2011

I am getting so sick of this thing in Texas (my Texas relatives are blowing up about the injustice) of taking prayer out of a graduation ceremony for a public high school.
Someone sued and won. Everyone is saying “majority rules” and “why can’t he just not pray why we have our prayer time”
I do not understand how they cannot view it from the other side. I completely get their argument. They think the student should just sit in silence and endure it since it’s “not hurting anybody” and “prayer is good for you” blah blah.
But why not view it as not having prayer and religion in a public school and pray on your own time?
Here’s one article on it: state rep trying to restore prayer

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35 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

It’s about socializing people. They want everyone to be the same. They want everyone to fit. That way, they think, society will run better. It’s kind of a Japanese aesthetic when you think about it. The nail that sticks up is the one that gets hit.

There are a lot of reasons behind the socialization thing, but that would require me to write something long. I’m not up for that now.

jca's avatar

Ask them if they would like it if Hasidics were in the majority at the school, and a rabbi came and decided to do some Jewish prayer service. Would they like it if they just had to sit through that? Just an example.

JLeslie's avatar

Yeah, you need to point out that if they were the minority, would they want someone else’s prayer for the ceremony? Muslim, Jewish, etc? They want a prayer, because they are so much in the majority they feel very confident it will be a Christian prayer. As communities change, if they make it the majority rules, one day when they are the minority they might not like it very much. It is not only about those who don’t pray, it is also about those who do, but pray differently. We can try to include everyone, or exclude it from the schools and not have to try to worry about someone being left out. I like the latter choice. I think when the discussion is only about Christians and athiests the Christians (these particular types of Christians) cannot and do not care about any argument, they will never get it. The only example maybe would be to to also allow an athiest stand up and say, “I don’t thank God, because one does not exist, I thank my teachers, my parents, and want some credit for all of the hard work I did as a student.”

Mariah's avatar

I have to believe that most of these people would be perfectly content to pray on their own time. What I think they’re reacting to is the change – the removal of prayer from schools, which they interpret as a “loss” for Christianity.

JLeslie's avatar

Along what @Mariah said, I saw Reverend Graham say that move towards secularism is a move towards destroying Christianity. Something like that. So, to us athiests we see leaving prayer out as simply leaving the public forum as not a place for religion, while people can still of course pray on their own time wherever they want. The Christians who think like Graham feel it is trying to eliminate Christianity.

thorninmud's avatar

It’s not much different, really, from playing the national anthem before sporting events. The unstated message is something along the lines of “this is the set of values that we expect of members of this community. While we may not be able to force anyone to participate, here’s what being a ‘real’ member of this community involves”

Hibernate's avatar

Freedom of religion… when ONE family sued the [ I don’t even understand who they sued .. because they cannot sue the state… freedom is in your constitution ]
Good thing to see that the state appealed .. even if it’s a ceremony.

This needs to be looked upon for the later verdict.

JLeslie's avatar

@thorninmud The national anthem is very different in my book.

christine215's avatar

One of the tenets of Christianity involves spreading the Word, maybe these people believe that this is part of the message?

thorninmud's avatar

@JLeslie Sure, all analogies have their limits. But I think the social function of the anthem and the prayer is very similar: It’s a group expression of devotion to a cause; and not only that, but to a particular standardized version of that cause.

casheroo's avatar

This is not about keeping prayer OUT of the graduation, it’s about not compelling others to participate. Wherever there is a believer , there will be prayer. I don’t see why they need to have a microphone in hand in order to particpate in their freedom to pray.< I agree with this (something someone else said about it.)

Blackberry's avatar

Typical. It’s a public school, period. Do that crap in a catholic school. Why can’t people just not pray when we’re praying? How about you just not pray at this function for the obvious reason that not everyone has your beliefs.

Just because the majority of people are religious doesn’t make this place religious. They would probably feel persecuted if they couldn’t pray on everyone’s time.

jerv's avatar

@Blackberry It’s Texas, and this sort of thing is typical there. Enough so that I have spent almost my entire life a far away from there as possible without leaving the 48 contiguous states.

obvek's avatar

This is a symptom of people’s attachment to dogma. I think that explains a lot of religious hegemony.

While I don’t do it as much as my response would suggest, I think prayer is a fundamentally human activity. If you limit the discussion to adherants of major world religions a generous supposition would be to say that there are many paths to God (nirvana, what have you). If you throw in athiests, I would quote David Foster Wallace, who said ”... in the day to day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as not worshipping.” Prayer by it’s loosest definition plays a significant role in how we function. The tragic thing in all this is how inept society is at keeping this truth clean and simple or how easily it is corrupted into dogma that subverts human potential.

Whether and to what extent the fact (if you accept it as such) of the impossibility of not worshipping and the innate activity of prayer belongs in a public school curriculum or as an activity is obviously up for debate, but it seems to me that the broader culprit is dogmatists and understandable reaction to their agenda. I think people who feel grounded in their own truth (which really should provide plenty of self assurance) would feel less threatened by the details of this controversy.

The level of discourse in this whole debate (in general, not this thread specifically) is woefully inadequate and unnecessarily divisive.

JLeslie's avatar

@thorninmud Only if you are one of those religious people who feel everyone should have to hear a prayer and don’t give a shit about separation of church and state in our nation. Not being able to see the huge difference between the anthem and prayer goes right back to the OP’s question, Why do(some of) those who pray feel it should be forced upon others? This is the USA and playing our anthem makes perfect sense, but Christianity, or any other religion is not an official part of being American. However, since during presidemtial and other political speeches and events we have clergy give speeches, it is hard for the US to really be black and white about it unfortunately. At least on a national level we do try to include multiple religions.

thorninmud's avatar

@JLeslie I hope I haven’t given the impression that I support this kind of institutionalized prayer; I don’t. I just also happen to think we’re doing something very similar when we drag out our old battle hymns at public events.

JLeslie's avatar

@thorninmud I was not assuming you support it, but I am glad you clarified. I just took it as though we were debating the issue, which is why I even offered an example that supports America does this sort of thing all of time at a higher level. In school, I have a particular hate regardng the issue, because it is dealing with children.

Judi's avatar

In our community churches will sponsor a Baccalaureate. That is the appropriate place for a graduation prayer service.

crisw's avatar


“Freedom of religion… ”

That little thing called the First Amendment also says the state shall SPONSOR no religion. Forcing all the attendees of the graduation of a public school to listen to an explicitly Christan prayer is actually a violation of freedom of religion, not an endorsement of it.

Moegitto's avatar

Unfortunately, there are some people that think that their way (Regardless if it’s religion, style, or even how to cook chicken) is the right way. It get’s noticed more when you put that negative trait in a religious person. Being in the military, I run into ALOT of people that we call “One Uppers”. They have to be right or be in the spot light one way or another, so they try to convince people to their ways. America has run off this notion for about 80 years now, seeing someone do something new, then copying it. The fact is that now we’re changing to actually acknowledge that someone is forcing something on us, and to decline. As much as I believe in God, I feel ashamed that the rest of my religion tries to bully people into believing.

bkcunningham's avatar

@crisw, the First Amendment doesn’t say, “Freedom of religion…” It says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

starsofeight's avatar

The very core of human nature is communication. We communicate those things that impress us, those things we enjoy, those things we believe in.

At the most, we want others to join in – we want to share. At the least, we hope others will condone, approve, or tolerate.

I’ve had all kinds of things pushed in my direction. Some want me to join the party, others want me to share the load.

I don’t particularly think anyone is trying to force any particular issue. I prefer to allow all others their two cents worth, and I hope they will be as courteous toward me when the time comes.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I think @crisw was telling @Hibernate that the first Amendment says the state shall not sponsor any religion. @Hibernate was the one who said freedom of religion, @crisw was addressing those words.

bkcunningham's avatar

Oh, thank you @JLeslie. I totally missed that. I see my mistake now. Sorry about that @crisw.

casheroo's avatar

I am at a loss. I have given proof of the First Amendment but my relatives insist this is legal. Regardless of the Treat of Tripoli “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—” they insist our nation is a Christian nation which just makes me sad that people like that exist.

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo It is sad. I think they live afraid also. Our country is becoming more and more diverse, as that happens these issues will continue to come up. The constitution, the laws of the land, are not on the side of the Evangelical Christian who is fighting hard to hold onto what they feel is America (I am not saying all Evangelicals). What they feel makes America a great nation. What makes America on the side of good. It seems they believe America is a gift from God and that Americans are some sort of chosen people. They just can’t separate it all, country, religion, God, it is all one to them from what I can tell.

jerv's avatar

@casheroo Some people are all too eager to point out that 85% of Americans self-identify as Christian. The truth is that the actual number is a bit lower; the highest reliable number I’ve seen is 76%, and even that number is a little dated and likely lower now than when it was found a few years ago as the number claiming no religion has doubled over the last decade.
It should also be noted that there are rather notable regional and political ties here too; Republicans are more likely to be Christian, and there is considerably less tolerance of non-Christians in areas where education and diversity is lacking (the Midwest and, to a lesser extent, the South). Of course, the Republic of Texas may well be a Christian nation. They used to actually be their own country, many Texans act as though they still are, and there is no doubt that Texas is Christian.
And lastly, when the Constitution says “Congress”, many take that to mean that the federal government while leaving the individual states to do whatever the hell they want.

linguaphile's avatar

Most of you have talked about public Christian prayer and I’m following this topic with much interest; however, I haven’t seen much discussion about prayer being forced on individuals, like within families.
To explain, in my extended family right now, there’s a residual conflict that has put a serious elephant in the room, over praying before eating. My own family doesn’t pray before eating and we don’t make a secret of it, but one night my son accidentally “outed” some other non-prayers in the family who lied about praying to other members. All of them got furious and things got ugly…. over lying about praying before dinner!
I am still incredulous about how banal it is to have a family argument/tension over praying before eating, feeling like it’s major enough to lie about, and major enough to leave scars in family relationships. This is an interesting thread for me because I’m still trying to understand how anyone would seriously impose their praying before eating dogma on others and cause a family rift when that’s not followed.
A large-scale debate on big sports arena/group prayer, I can understand… my family’s situation, I don’t understand.

Blackberry's avatar

@linguaphile That’s sad. I’d imagine when it comes to a smaller group like families, some people may see that as an opportunity to easily control the outcome they favor? One would also think there wouldn’t be a rift because it is a small, tight knit (or supposed to be) group, but the seriousness of religion and clutched beliefs aren’t impervious to family ties.

JLeslie's avatar

@linguaphile I believe you follow whatever is customary in the house you are in. If people come to my house there is no prayer before eating, but of course anyone. An say their own prayer to themselves in silence before they eat. If I am in someone’s home and they pray before eating, I will respect the moment and wait for their prayer (although the prayer is uncomfortable/odd for me).

For family members to be hateful over those is very sad. i have to again say it is based in fear in my opinion. They think you are foing to hell in a hand basket and your kids will grow up without morals or something like that. I just think these religious people feel strongly they get their sense lf right and wrong, morality, from their religion, and so people void of religion and its rituals will not have the guidance necessary to live a good, moral life. Maybe I am wrong, thks is just my perception as a nonreligious person going on what some Christians have asked me when they find out I am an atheist.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie You are correct. It has been proven that Atheists are not trusted for pretty much that reason. And us Agnostics are sometimes considered worse since at least an Atheist s willing to take a stand and say that there is no God while Agnostics won’t take a stand at all. Apparently taking a stand that us humans cannot comprehend the divine is not a valid position.

Moegitto's avatar

@jerv And then you have me, a Deist!

casheroo's avatar

Panel Overturns ruling
annnd they call it a Christian Nation. wth?

JLeslie's avatar


But really, as long as we have prayer during a Presidential innauguration, what leg do we have to stand on?

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie It’s more like being kicked in the middle leg.

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