The Washington Post
Benefits are not universal
Regarding the July 27 front-page article “School-prayer fight blurs churchand-state line”:
Those “working to blur the line dividing prayer and pedagogy” are wearing blinders; they see only their renewed hope that one day the United States will be, officially, a Christian country. From personal experience as a member of a minority religion and professional experience as a school psychologist, I am painfully aware that the children of minority religions will not be experiencing the “emotional, spiritual . . . benefits” the Christians are promising.
Betty Wachtel, Durham, N.H.
With all of the emphasis on safe spaces in schools and workplaces, spaces that are purged of triggers to the sensitivities of students and co-workers, the Supreme Court’s decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District to bar a public school district from creating a space free of religious expression to protect the sensitivities of atheists is troubling.
Surely, those parents who object to curriculums that seek to proselytize on subjects such as LGBTQ rights or critical race theory should stand with parents who object to the indoctrination of their children with the unscientific fictions that are religious faiths. On the bright side, I presume the Kennedy decision has now made the period after the end of a football game a public forum for individual expression of religious belief or, more important, nonbelief.
John J. Duffy, Bethesda
In the 1940s and 1950s, I attended public school in Massachusetts. Each morning, the teacher read a Bible passage and led us in the Lord’s Prayer. The students were predominantly Roman Catholic. At that time, Protestants had an added portion to the prayer. The few Protestants in the class began to feel embarrassed, so they stopped saying their additional words. One day, I asked our teacher why the Catholics had shortened the prayer. My (obviously nonCatholic) teacher responded that Catholics believe that their church is the “kingdom and the power and glory.” For years, I believed this erroneous idea. After all, “the teacher told me.”
Another clear memory is of the one Jewish girl in the class. One day, a boy raised his hand after the spoken prayer, pointed to the Jewish child and said, “She didn’t say the prayer.” The teacher’s response was “Well, she doesn’t believe the same as the rest of us.” Years later, that girl told me that was her worst childhood memory.
These events well illustrate the immense damage to children when religion is inserted into the schools. No teacher or coach can be totally objective or knowledgeable about the many faiths represented in our classrooms. The “moments of silence” without direction are still the best solution. Prayer in the schools and on the sports fields can continue, silently, by every student who wishes to pray. Others can quietly review their spelling words or think about game strategy. And no children would be harmed or pitted against their parents’ beliefs.
Priscilla Kirby, Springfield