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Piety’s Double Edge: When Deeds Speak Louder Than Public Prayers

| March 14, 2012

Same pieties, different skies.

By Susan Clary

Florida lawmakers just sent Gov. Rick Scott a bill that would allow school prayer at public school dances, assemblies, football games, even classrooms.

Beyond arguments about the law’s constitutionality and impact on people of minority faiths, lies a simple question: More than words, why aren’t the conservative Christians hell bent on passing this law equally concerned about deeds?

How, on one hand, can legislators push for “inspirational messages” in classrooms while they work to destroy access to affordable healthcare, a woman’s right to choose and the rights of service workers to earn a decent wage?

florida voices columnists flaglerlive

Instead of worrying about public prayer, they should let the Bible be their guide, particularly Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25, which lists the 14 works of physical and spiritual mercy. Let’s go over how some might translate into good law.

First, they could budget money to improve programs that feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. They could pass laws that ensure better oversight of the sick and elderly in nursing homes, and offer better protections for those serving time in prison, ending horrendous abuses.

They could increase teacher pay to better elevate the uneducated. More money to help the mentally ill and homeless could help comfort the sorrowful. And more bipartisan legislation would help forgive past injuries and bear wrongs patiently.

Stricter laws on campaign finance reform, lobbying, gifts to legislators and conflicts of interest would go a long way to admonish sinners who participate in backroom deals and unfair practices in the name of money and power.

Instead, more than 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed mandatory school prayer, our elected leaders are trying to legislate religion.

The bill’s sponsor says it’s not intended to endorse any religious belief, though a provision that would have required prayers to be non-sectarian was removed.

When asked if he planned to sign the legislation, Gov. Rick Scott said: “As you know, I believe in Jesus Christ and I believe individuals should have a right to say a prayer.”

Rather than push a bill certain to alienate people of minority faiths and violate our Constitution, legislators would do better to shepherd bills that promote the public good. Now that would be an inspirational message for schoolchildren of all faiths.

Formerly a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and Orlando Sentinel, Susan Clary is a freelance writer in Orlando. She can be reached here. Read her previous column here.

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10 Responses for “Piety’s Double Edge: When Deeds Speak Louder Than Public Prayers”

  1. Outsider says:

    Excuse me Ms. clary; where was it in the Bible where it said a mother has the right to kill her unborn child? I must have missed that part.

    • jespo says:

      Deuteronomy 21:18-21….Christians are civil this way…they wait till after the child is born, then it’s ok to kill your child.

  2. Tom Brown says:

    Pressuring schoolkids into prayer is the last thing our public schools should be doing. First of all, no matter how diplomatically you try to construct a generic prayer, it is going to be offensive to some faiths and ineffective for others. Just saying the name of God is a sacrilege for certain faiths. If families believe their kids need more prayer, the solution is simple — pray with the kids before you send them off to school, and pray again at the dinner table (if you spend anytime with your kids at all.) If you think that is insufficient, then send them to a religious school. I think it is okay for schools to teach kids about religions and various religious practices — that’s a facet of our culture — but not to lead them in religious rituals. That’s the responsibility of clergy and parents.

    • Nancy N. says:

      Not to mention that subjecting atheist children to even a so-called generic prayer violates their beliefs…there is simply no way to have any kind of prayer in a public school without violating the rights of someone. It doesn’t belong and is expressly forbidden by the separation of church and state clause of the constitution.

  3. Sherry Epley says:

    Tom Brown. . . well said!

  4. Sherry Epley says:

    Oh Yes! And Flaglerlive. . . excellent article!

  5. slyfox says:

    Prayers do not belong in the class room or anything else pertaining to school functions. Pray at home, or where ever.. The Bible is a book, based on stories….if you read & believe, good for you. I totally agree with everything Ms. Clary wrote.

  6. Kevin says:

    If they wern’t providing the care in that area of health previously, how is now forcing the religious institution supposed to be an attack on women and their health care rights (not that a reasonable thinker would consider health care a right)? It is a recent bogus attack on Christianity and the GOP, propelled in momentum by the tool of the left–the media like MSNBC and every one of their punidts. Those particpating in the attack disgust me because it is more of an attack against the Christian religion.

  7. jespo says:

    Eskimo: “If I did not know about God and sin, would I go to hell?”
    Priest: “No, not if you did not know.”
    Eskimo: “Then why did you tell me?”

    The reason this bullshit is back in our classrooms is because it’s more important for religious people to speak and be heard than for their message to be a reality. Having our children mumble to imaginary people at school, and then dealing with the inevitable arguments about whose mumbling offends someone else’s mumbling, and all the while they’re failing miserably at math and science wordwide. Oh yes, they don’t know geography either unless it’s off google maps. Way to go!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Amazzzing how a simple thing like the thanking of GOd is such a bad thing to many on the left

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