School Prayer and the abuse of God – Pop Culture satirist, James Campion tackles religious hypocracy.

Aquarian Weekly 7/5/00 REALITY CHECK


On June 19, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in a Texas case that public schools cannot allow student-led prayer. The Sante Fe Independent School District in Galveston had allowed student-initiated and student-led prayer to be broadcast over the public address system before high school football games. The question on trial was whether allowing prayer violates the First Amendment’s establishment clause, which states that Congress “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The pertinent one is why in the name of any supreme being would anyone force mass prayer before an athletic event?

Forgiving Texas, which is best known for the celebration of the gun, the electric chair, snipers in clock towers and a dandy place to murder Catholic presidents, there is little argument that Friday night high school football is something of a religion. But this ridiculous ritual of petitioning faith for victory is as tiresome as this seemingly endless charade of defending the Confederate flag.

Whatever is left of Christianity has been so bastardized and abused in the pursuit of money and power that to speak of it with any public reverence is at best laughable, and, at worst, sickening. Because that’s what this is all about. The suit was originally lead by two unnamed students, one Mormon and one Catholic, and their mothers. The voice of Judaism, Islam, Hinduism or the odd Buddhist is about as welcome at a Texas pigskin affair as a John McCain tailgate party.

In nearly every corner of this planet the effusive rage displayed by misguided religious zealots and fundamentalist lunatics has rendered humanity to the level of beast.

And as oft celebrated in this space, the strong-arm tactics of religious righteousness and untouchable separatism practiced by holy-rollers masquerading as weekend martyrs is damaging and hurtful to those who wish to worship and pray in the comfort of their own belief, away from rabid throngs hoping to watch cousin Billy rip the cranium from his pagan opponent.

We have enough trouble in this nation without jamming religious insanity into the boiling cauldron. In nearly every corner of this planet the effusive rage displayed by misguided religious zealots and fundamentalist lunatics has rendered humanity to the level of beast. This is a republic built on the rights of religious expression to be realized peacefully in the privacy of the establishment built for it or in the cocoon of family and culture. Every time it reaches beyond these parameters we achieve dangerous levels of wretched craziness.

Of course, none of these points was the determining factor in any part of this ruling. “Religious activity in public schools, as elsewhere, must comport with the First Amendment,” wrote Justice John Paul Stevens for the majority. Amendments win over philosophy and silliness most of the time. This was one of those times.

No one on the Supreme Court wanting to remain there would not dare to utter the truths about the misuse of Jesus Christ as a hammer of cultural dominance. Most likely, none of them would even fathom such radical nonsense. This is, after all, a God-fearing country built on the always pleasant idea that God blesses us and damns everyone not with the program. It has allowed the slaughter of Native Americans, burning of women, lynching of blacks, persecution of homosexuals, killing of doctors, jailing of artists and a host of military atrocities abroad.

Again, things are a heck of a lot worse in other parts of the globe, but we live here, and have to face the truth that because of this holier-than-thou attitude buoyed by terribly naive and narcissistic visions of a male deity nodding its approval, there has been a buffet of anguish to choose from.

There is the prevailing argument that preventing a public school from instituting rules is grounds for free-speech abuse, but that is selective deduction on the level of putting safety belts on living room couches.

You want to pray? Recite every psalm King David could muster. You want everyone to stand there and listen to it over a loudspeaker before a friggin’ football game, you’re heading into different territory. They have private institutions for that, and although it’s always amusing seeing a dramatic shot of Touchdown Jesus before Notre Dame takes the field at South Bend, public schools are a government-funded establishment bound to the law of diversity.

And all those who wish to bring heretical anti-religion rhetoric into the equation must remember that every time you want to shoot yourself because you opened the door on an endless Jehovah Witness rant or been detained in an airport by dancing bald men in flowing white robes, you are a practicing member. Or don’t those religious activities matter as much as forced public prayer services?

Next thing you know every maverick theologian with half an idea about existence is demanding that we stand on our heads and do the Tango with a stranger to cajole the blessings of the Lord.

Finally, prayer is what an individual makes of it. Mass prayer in the public arena is not only criminal, it’s asinine. This is tantamount to someone telling you that the only concept of love is fondling muskrats at a beach party while spreading egg salad on your neighbor. If this sounds a bit avant-garde, then explain why a person who sees the beatific spiritual understanding of God as wholly opposite of anything crammed down their throats at a football game is so abhorrent.

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