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

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