Heather Rebuttal #001:
I somehow stumbled across your article “What Is Wrong With Prayer In Public Schools” on Yahoo. I know since you’re athiest you’re not going to like what I have to say, but please just listen. I used to think exactly like you do now. I used to not believe in God. I was living a horrible life. For the first 14 years of my life I was raised a Catholic and never really had God in my life the way I have him in my life now. Last year, in the middle of my Sophomore year in high school, I visited a non-denominational church for the very first time in my life. For the first time I really felt God’s presence. I then decided to give my heart to Jesus. Prayer being outlawed in public schools is horrible. That is the reason there are so many problems and so much violence in schools these days is the lack of prayer. If God was allowed behind the walls of a school building, so many great things could happen and everyone could be in peace. There is no saying “Well what about offending the wiccans, athiests, or jews”, because once God’s presence hits you it changes your life and the way you view things forever. Once your born-again, and washed and cleansed by the blood of the lamb, you’ll be the happiest you’ve ever been. I know I am now that I’m living my life for God. Also, you mis-interpreted that verse you added in your article from Matthew 8. God meant to be humble when you pray and have your prayers come from your heart and not from your head. He meant to not to show off while praying to fit in, but to be completely sincere. Meaning that when you pray, NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE AT, to have your prayers come straight from your heart and not have any other purpose behind them. Nobody, not the governent or anyone, can tell me or any other Christian how to pray at school. If the Holy Spirit hits us with tongues in the middle of class, I will obey the spirit. It’s as simple as that. You may chose to ignore everything I just said to you and go on living your life full of sin, but I promise you, knowing that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Saviour and that he’s coming back for you agian one day is the most satisfying feeling ever. Just know that I, and probably everyone at my church, will be praying for you, and for anyone else who doesn’t know God.
Response to Heather #001:
HEATHER: “I used to think exactly like you do now.”
Based on what you said, I doubt that. If you ever thought like I do you wouldn’t have switched over to the dark side (religion).
HEATHER: “Prayer being outlawed in public schools is horrible. That is the reason there are so many problems and so much violence in schools these days is the lack of prayer.”
Really? Do you have any data to back that claim up? It just so happens that I do have data that backs up the complete opposite of what you said.
First, prayer is not outlawed in public schools. You can pray all you want. You can read your Bible all you want. You can pray to Jesus, Allah, Zoroaster, Mithras, Buddha, Yahweh or any other of the almost 4,000 gods worshiped by humans. In 1963 the Supreme Court found forced prayer to be unconstitutional. Would you agree with the mandatory prayer if your teacher was a Muslim and Islamic prayers were read over the PA system? Would you agree with teacher-led prayer if your teacher were a Wiccan? The fact that the school cannot endorse religion or promote religion or lead in any religious activity is what gives you the freedom to practice your particular brand of Christianity. You have the freedom to pray to your god because no one is forcing you to pray to another god.
The Department of Education has some really interesting information available for those that want it. When the Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that forced teacher-led prayer was unconstitutional, only 37% of all public schools in the US still had teacher-led prayer (DOE, 1965). Only 24% of all public schools in US still had Bible reading in the morning (DOE, 1974). Most of the country had stopped the practice long before the Supreme Court decision.
Another interesting report from the Department of Education and all the State Boards of Education, which is confirmed in the book Violence in American Schools: Colonial to Modern Times, notes that violence in public schools was at its worst during the late 40’s and 50’s and that school-related violence began a steady decline when teacher-led prayer was fading out and finally found unconstitutional. Today, schools are statistically the safest place for children to be (DOE, 2001).
The only reason you think they are so bad is because when an incident happens in California, the entire nation hears about it on MSNBC and CNN. Fifty years ago when a shooting or stabbing occurred in a Florida school, no one heard about it in California, Washington, New York, Montana or anywhere else. There was no 24-hour news channels, cable, or national newspapers. The media loves school violence and plays it for months after each incident. In the last three years how many school shootings have you seen on the news? Think about the entire number of schools in the country and then about the ones covered by the news. There are over 200,000 public schools in the US (DOE 1999) and only six mass media school shooting in the last three years. How do you see that as a massive moral decline and increase in violence?
HEATHER: “If God was allowed behind the walls of a school building, so many great things could happen and everyone could be in peace.”
How do you keep a supposed omni-present and omnipotent god out of school, anyway? Do you pray at school in private and on your own? Do you pray with your friends during break and lunch? How is your version of god kicked out if you still pray? No one kicked god or prayer out of school – they made forced prayer unconstitutional. I know for a fact that most students pray, and yet your so-called version of peace evades you. It sounds like the only person with the problem here is you – not the schools. No great things happened when forced prayer was in school.
HEATHER: “There is no saying “Well what about offending the wiccans [sic], athiests [sic], or jews [sic]”, because once God’s presence hits you it changes your life and the way you view things forever.”
So the only thing you care about is not prayer in school, but Christianity in school. All you care about is your particular religion and not about prayer in general. The fact that you don’t care about offending others makes you a bigot. As an atheist I’m concerned about the Constitutional rights of everyone; even those that I disagree with. I want everyone to have religious freedom and freedom of speech and other constitutional guarantees. I also understand that in order to have those freedoms, you must be free from the aggressions of other religions. You can’t be a Christians unless you are free from Islam. You can’t be a Buddhist unless you are free from Christianity.
HEATHER: “Once your born-again, and washed and cleansed by the blood of the lamb, you’ll be the happiest you’ve ever been.”
Then explain this for me. Fundamentalist Christians have the highest suicide rate among all demographic groups (APA, 1998). Christians and Jews have the highest divorce rates and Baptists have the highest of all Christian denominations (Barna, 2000) and the highest divorce rates are in the Bible Belt. Christians make up the highest percentage of the prison population (FBOP, 1997 & SDOC, 1999). The highest murder rates are in the Bible Belt (DOJ, 1998). The highest infant mortality rates in are in the Bible Belt (AAPP, 2001). The lowest education standards and highest high school drop-out rates are in the Bible Belt (DOE, 1999 & Fordham Foundation, 2000). The highest teen pregnancy rate is in the Bible Belt (PPA, 1997). Based on this information it sounds like the Christian god is a cause for social depravity, not happiness; and that speaks historically, as well as in modern times.
HEATHER: “Also, you mis-interpreted that verse you added in your article from Matthew 8. God meant to be humble when you pray and have your prayers come from your heart and not from your head. He meant to not to show off while praying to fit in, but to be completely sincere.”
That is not what the verse said. You are the one that is interpreting. I didn’t interpret the verse. The verse is literal. That’s the problem with most Christians – they interpret things in order to justify their own views. Jesus was clear about public prayer – he said it was what the infidels and hypocrites did. Are you a hypocrite that prays in public?
HEATHER: “Nobody, not the governent [sic] or anyone, can tell me or any other Christian how to pray at school.”
Exactly! So why do you want the government to bring back government-endorsed and teacher-led prayers? I guess you are a hypocrite, after all.
HEATHER: “If the Holy Spirit hits us with tongues in the middle of class, I will obey the spirit. It’s as simple as that.”
Suit yourself, but you’ll be the one in the principle’s office explaining why you interrupted class with a bunch of gibberish.
HEATHER: “Just know that I, and probably everyone at my church, will be praying for you, and for anyone else who doesn’t know God.”
Pray all you want – it doesn’t work. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had entire churches pray for me and others. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that individuals prayed for me. I’m still an atheist and always will be. I’ve tried the Christian brand of religious clothing before and quickly realized that it was nothing more than the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Heather Rebuttal #002:
It’s really sad that you feel that way. You obviously don’t realize what Jesus did for you. Actually, I think that if the whole world was full of Christianity, it would be a better place. I am respectful of others religions, but I do know that mine is right. I know that others feel that theres are right too, but that’s only because Satan makes them think they’re right. You’re only right if you’ve excepted Jesus Christ as your own personal saviour, it says so in the bible. Also, as long as people are praying for you, things are happening. We have something you don’t have, and that’s faith, and the guarantee of everlasting life with God. It’s sad you don’t have the same.
Response to Heather #002:
HEATHER: “It’s really sad that you feel that way.”
I’m sorry you feel that way about me feeling that way. I support your right to believe whatever you want. Of course the Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Shaman and Zoroaster are all saying the same thing about you because you believe in Jesus. Please keep in mind that your religion is not the only one. Christianity is not the majority religion worldwide – only in the US is Christianity the majority. To others – it is you that are the heretic and infidel.
HEATHER: “You obviously don’t realize what Jesus did for you.”
I realize what you think Jesus did for me. I’ve read the Bible many times (straight through). I’ve probably read the Bible more than you have. Just think about the other options out there. Do you not realize what Mohammed did for you? Have you no clue the sacrifice that Krishna made on the cross for you? Were you not aware that Dionysius was sacrificed on the cross to die for your sins 2,400 years before Jesus?
HEATHER: “Actually, I think that if the whole world was full of Christianity, it would be a better place.”
History has proven the exact opposite. When Christianity ruled Europe it was called the Dark Ages. When Christianity ruled Europe there were the Crusades, the Inquisition and other atrocities. Whenever cities were ruled by Christianity, it was the bloodiest time in their history. Christian City (Constantinople) was replete with bloodshed and violence during the time when it was ruled under a Christian theocracy. Ultimately the government succumbed and the theocracy was banned because it was so bloody and violent. The worst harbinger of doom is not Satan, but the cross. It has been such for 2,000 years and will continue to do so until the church stops preaching dogma and doctrine and begins to actually teach the message of Jesus himself. That will never happen, because when it does the church will become obsolete and they will lose their power and wealth.
HEATHER: “I am respectful of others religions, but I do know that mine is right.”
How? Have you studied the other religions to be sure? Have you read the Qu’ran? Have you read the Torah? Have you read the Verdi? Have you read the Qabalah? Have you studied Shamanism? Zoroastrianism? Mithraism? Paganism? Hinduism? Islam? There are over 30,000 religions in the world. That means you have a 1 in 30,000 chance of picking the “right one”. Of course that denies the possibility that none of them are correct.
HEATHER: “I know that others feel that theres [sic] are right too, but that’s only because Satan makes them think they’re right.”
Funny you should say that, because they said the same thing about you.
HEATHER: “You’re only right if you’ve excepted Jesus Christ as your own personal saviour [sic], it says so in the bible.”
The Bible also says that you are to keep slaves. The Bible also says that you are to kill infidels and non-believers. The Bible also says it’s okay to have a brothel. The Bible also says its okay to kill women and children and keep virgins as your wives. The Bible also says you’re supposed to burn a bull in sacrifice to Yahweh because the “odor is pleasing to the Lord”.
The Bible is full of contradictions, errors, inconsistencies and fallacies. Anyone with a remote understanding of Biblical scholarship knows that. I would remind you that other sacred texts say the same thing a bout their saviors. The Verdi says that you can only arrive in Heaven (they call it something else, of course) by accepting the sacrifice that Krishna made during his crucifixion and his resurrection after being buried for three days. Of course Krishna was crucified and resurrected 1,200 years before Jesus was supposedly crucified and resurrected.
HEATHER: “We have something you don’t have, and that’s faith…”
That’s the first true thing you’ve said so far. You are right, all you have is faith. You have no evidence. You have no proof. You have no foundation to stand upon. The only thing you have is faith. Faith is nothing more than believing in something that you know is not true, cannot prove, or has been proven wrong but you refuse to admit it.
HEATHER: “It’s sad you don’t have the same.”
Yeah, your version of a vengeful and spiteful god condemns me to hell because I don’t love him. Love me or burn in hell forever. How is that a moral doctrine?
NOTE: Heather has not responded to my last email.