Senator Tomes, joined by Senators Kruse and Holdman, have introduced SB 251 concerning The Lord’s Prayer in schools.
In order that each student recognize the importance of spiritual development in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, the governing body of a school corporation or the equivalent authority of a charter school may require the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of each school day. The prayer may be recited by a teacher, a student, or the class of students.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a nonsequitur in legislation before. I’m skeptical that recitation leads to good citizenship. But, in any event, the legislation graciously permits the school’s governing body to pick which version of the Lord’s Prayer to use and allows parents or students to not participate.
I see from the Wikipedia article that The Lord’s Prayer appears in Jesus’ discourse on ostentation in the Gospel of Matthew wherein Jesus cautions against public displays of piety mainly having the purpose of letting others see you pray. That would seem to make the irony of this legislation fairly thick. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that this type of attempt at having government sanctioned prayer looks like nothing so much as the effort of a small but vocal subset of Christians to mark their territory. “This school is ours – we’ll tolerate you, if we must, but don’t forget who is running the show.”
Not even subtle in this case. They could just as easily have said prayer generically, knowing that given demographics, the prayer would always be either neutral or some flavor of Christianity. It would never be anything contrary to Christianity, but at least they’d have a fig leaf of neutrality. But, by raising up The Lord’s Prayer, they aren’t even pretending that non-Christian religions are entitled to anything like equal consideration. And now, when the inevitable push back comes from people with concerns about behaving in a manner that’s Constitutional, or even just neighborly, the subset of territory markers can wallow in their self-inflicted martyrdom.
Update Jacie Shoaf, writing for the Evansville Courier Press has an article on this issue. Sen. Tomes said he just introduced it to have a discussion about it.
He said he wanted the prayer in schools in order to help children “recognize right from wrong or good from bad.”
Never mind that the Lord’s Prayer has very little to say about right and wrong. It tells us that there is a God is in heaven, that his name is hallowed, that his kingdom is coming, that his will should be done, that we should be forgiven for our wrongs and should do the same for others, requests that God deliver us for evil, and that God is super cool. It looks to me more like a statement of powerlessness and submission than any kind of lesson about good and bad.
But, as Ken Falk of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union said, ““The reason there’s not going to be a hearing is because it’s unconstitutional.”
Where are these three bozos from, so I know which part of redneck hillbilly deliverance land to avoid? Seriously.. you’d think the next thing they’ll do would be to require all laws to be grounded in the Magna Carta.
And here I thought spending time on the issue of the “proper” singing of the National Anthem was the biggest waste of legislative time and energy….
Woo hoo! Your tax dollars at work.
During my grade school days in Ontario we all recited the Lord’s Prayer every morning before class and it didn’t seem to stunt my developing cynicism. And yes the Indiana GOP seems to be hankering for a 1st Amendment squabble. Too bad for the kids destined to be caught in the middle, but since when do House Republicans give a flip about them?
The first response that comes to mind: Jesus Christ, people.
I think we need to regulate the pronunciation of “Amen”. You know, it’s “Ay-men”, not “Ah-men”. Drives me nuts. If my kid is instructed in school to say “Ah-men”, I might go postal.
The hell you say! The proper pronunciation is sort of a drawn out, chanty, singing “Ahhh — Mennn.”
This is another of the offerings that simply is mind blowing—this should never have been introduced and should not receive any type of hearing, but likely it will proceed much further. What about this–next we will ban any Jewish person wearing a religous cap or others having special attire (because it offends as the reason but really a return to our “christian roots” and attack on it.) Or, perhaps “can not allow those Pope driven people to have ashes on their forehead out in public”. And, and there are other basic things we should do —as we attack the idea that in other parts of the world they should not ban or impede christians from expressing themselves. Sad in so many respects.
I went to law school with Sen. Holdman. I can’t believe he thinks for a moment this is even close to constitutional.
Regardless of that, I had a similar reaction to many: “God, please save us from this silliness.”
WLW… I like your first 13 words…. they would have sufficed in this situation! LOL
(they are : “I went to law schol with Sen. Holdman. I can’t believe he thinks…”)
Kruse: District 14, Auburn area
Tomes: District 49, Evansville area
Holdman: District 19, Blackford County, etc.
John of Indiana says
Holdman actually went to law school? Then why is he in the World’s Worst Legislature? I thought that body was open for membership only by the biggest farmer, grocer, or car dealer in the district. They actually have members schooled in LAW?
Could have fooled me!
Occupation’s listed for Indiana Legislature members a few years back:
Retired (w/o list prior occupation)=15%
AND Full time legislature=7%
In the fiscal impact statement: “Explanation of Local Expenditures: There could be some minor impact in deciding the version of the Lord’s Prayer to use; however, it should be able to be done within existing resources.” Under State Expenditures there is nothing.
I would like an amendment that the state (or better yet Tomes, Kruse and Holdman personally) and not school districts shoulder the fiscal burden of the inevitable lawsuits arising from this.
Make the Christians show up at 6 for their prayer. Everyone else can come at 7 for real school.
Kruse is the person doing this bit of loveliness.
Sara D says
It’s obscene to waste taxpayers money to produce this garbage. Why are they not writing solutions for the problems they are paid to solve? They should be forced to pay back the money they earned writing this adultered nonsense. Do I really have to say it? Seperation of church and state.
Rev. AJB says
We have two versions of the Lord’s Prayer in our ELCA Lutheran hymnal. Also the Catholics will have to stop for a few moments for us Protestants to finish. And there will be debts and trespasses to pay…..oy vey!
BTW Doug, you were quoted on the Rachel Maddow blog on this one! Awesome!
How outrageous to think that someone would be trying to force invisible people down the throats of children. Just be good for goodness sakes – you don’t need religion.
Interesting as to where this could lead. back in 1964 when i was in the first grade we had student led morning prayer in our small local public elementary school. Now each student, and we went alphabetically,got up and said a prayer to open the school day. When it came to my turn good catholic that i am I said the Hail mary. the teacher gets up goes out into the hallway and requests a meeting with the principal. That was the last day of morning prayer!! You see i was the first of a few catholic kids in the classroom that was in a school of mostly other Christian religions. Point being whenever you bring religion into the public sector you have “unintended consequences”
Reminds me of the Emo Philips joke I’ve posted around here before:
Doug, the Phillips joke..too funny for words and speaks volumes! It is a real commentary on our times.
This will never go away, no matter if there is legislation or not. Prayer is the least of it, although maybe the most ostentatious. In the early ’90s in SW IN one of my kids, Catholic in a public high school, was asked by a teacher in class, English I think, to defend something or other about Catholic beliefs in contrast to “Christian beliefs that the rest of us hold” (not even noticing the Hindu in the class). And I mean defend, not discuss. My student acquitted herself very well, but should not have been put in that position. This was not an uncommon occurrence although the challenges usually came from other overly-coached students, not teachers. One reason we chose public school was to broaden our children’s viewpoints and ability to work with people of diverse ideas and not be too parochial in their thinking, but we really had not expected the burden of that to be so squarely on their shoulders. Another happening in grade school was the suggestion by the Girl Scout leader that the Girl Scout troop the Christian flag in a civic parade in addition to the Girl Scout flag. That quietly went away when a parent (tongue-in-cheek) offered to supply a Papal flag and find out if there was such a thing as a Hindu banner that could also be carried by the scouts affiliated with those.
This goes against separation of church and state, it goes against freedom of religion, and, as an added consequence, it discriminates against non-Christian students.
No one in their right mind would pass this bill.
John of Indiana says
“No one in their right mind would pass this bill.”
Which is precisely why the House of Bubbas *WILL* pass it.
Thanks for this post. I am reassured and feel less lonely in my opinions about the constitutionality of the state legislature’s insanity.
I think separation and loneliness among non-believers is one of the goals of the dominionist line of thinking. If the territory is marked, such that other ways of thinking marked as unwelcome, then non-believers will be less likely to make themselves known; leaving the impression that mainstream thought is much more dominant than it really is.
I’d like proof that “spirtual development” is important in establishing character and becoming a good citizen, please. In fact, come to think of it, please define “character” and “good citizen”, because I’ve seen a lot of Christians who have no character and are not good citizens. The jails, in fact, are full of them.
Eric Poole says
This is the latest example of “Tentherism.” The “Tenthers” — those who cite the 10th Amendment, which delegates to the states those powers not expressly granted to the federal government or expressly prohibited to state governments. Since they say there isn’t anything in the Constitution expressly prohibiting states from establishing a religion, the individual states can declare Christianity as the state’s religion.
Or so the new “Tenther” thinking goes.
That was indeed the case before the Fourteenth Amendment. Massachusetts and Connecticut both had established churches into the 19th century.
Props on the link from the maddow blog!
I am an Indiana resident and terrified that such legislation is being entertained. If Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries (who strongly believed in separation of church and state) knew of this proposed legislation…they would roll over in their graves! They would want to rise from the dead and start a whole new revolution. Jefferson saw matters of religion a very private matter and thought these matters should be left to each individual’s own conscience. He did not believe government should be involved in matters of religion. Even in colonial times the population was religiously diverse. There were many non-Christians living in colonial times. For example there were those adhering to the Jewish faith and Islamic faith in the colonies. Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin (and there is strong evidence for Geo. Washington) for example were not Christians they were Deists, which means although they may have admired many of the teachings of Jesus, did not believe him to be divine or a miracle worker. Yet many Christians not familiar with our country’s history believe America was founded solely on Christian principles. Jefferson and his contemporaries were all to aware of the religious persecutions that took place in Europe if individuals did not follow the state sponsored religion demanded by the monarchs. The last thing the founders of America wanted was a repeat performance for their newly formed country. Our founders did not believe in an official state sponsored/sanctioned religion nor government getting involved in matters of religion. When governments get involved in matters of religion, soon there are groups who are persecuted. There should be no room for state sponsored religious bigotry and persecution in the greatest nation on earth whose diverse citizenry is what makes it great.
Surely the “lords” prayer was said, and therefore must be repeated in Aramaic?
Why is it that all of these self-described “Christians” have so much trouble recalling (and applying to themselves) the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector? Methinks they need to study their Bibles a bit more!
John of Indiana says
I have no “spiritual development”, yet consider myself to be off very good character.
Religious belief doesn’t make you a better person, it merely gives you the imaginary eternal “Get out of Jail FREE” card.
What’s one of the first things you hear when it’s found out that you’re an Atheist? “Oh, so how do you keep from running around murdering and raping if you don’t believe in Gad?”
Simple, I don’t do those things because I wouldn’t want them done to me.
The fact that it would seem to me that a fear of your god is the only reason YOU don’t run around murdering and raping gives me a great deal of concern. I’d hate to be near you if you ever realized there is no God, why, I might be your first intended victim!
Give me the person who does the Right Thing simply because it *IS* the Right Thing.
This week, the Jessica Ahlquist suit–to remove a prayer hung in her public school gymnasium–was concluded in her favor. The judge’s 40-page statement is full of excellent, plain-sense legal arguments that are applicable to cases like this one. By all means give it a read: