On School Prayer

1640-50

Christians, do not ask for prayer in schools.
Make sure that students do not learn
about the God of the Bible.

This is the God who said “Don’t take my name in vain.”*
So unless you want your children to rebuke you
for slapping “In God we trust”
on your currency, your police cruisers, your weapons of war, and your campaign posters,
do not teach them to pray;
Because they will see that you actually worship
Money, Violence, Power;
Pluto, Mars, and Jupiter.
And they will reject your heathen religion.

Do not teach your children to pray
to the God who said “I desire mercy, not sacrifice;”*
whose Chosen One said, “You tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others, but do not lift a finger to move them;”*
and “You lock people out of the kingdom of God,
you yourselves do not go in, and when others try, you stop them;”*
whose wise man said, “A poor person’s land might produce much food, but it is unjustly swept away”*
whose prophet said, “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to undo the thong of oppression and break every yoke?”*

So unless you want your children to reject debtor’s prisons,*
mass incarceration,*
capital punishment,*
and the use of cash bail to force guilty pleas from the poor,*
do not teach them to pray in school.

Do not teach your children to pray
to the God whose writers said it is a sin
to use religion to justify bloodshed,*
to wage war on the trees,*
who condemned rich people and fat sheep for shoving the poor out of the way with flank and shoulder
and polluting the water with their waste and trampling the good pasture,*
for adding house to house and field to field, gentrifying the land
until there is room for no one but them.*

Do not teach your children to pray
to the God who promised to destroy those who destroy the earth,*
or you will see your children and grandchildren
whispering about you
whenever they try to remember what it was like
to hear the sound of buzzing bees by day
and chirping of frogs by night.*

This is the God who says
I AM the one who brings down the mighty from their thrones.
I AM the one who fills the hungry with good things, and sends the rich away empty.
I AM the one who opens prison doors and sets the captives free.
I AM, and no other.

This is the God whose Chosen One says
that religious people can become dull
and like salt without flavor,
that they can become worse than useless,
fit neither for soil nor the shit pile,*
who fertilize nothing, preserve nothing, flavor nothing.
These religious people are like desiccants, Jesus implies,
like the little packets found in plastic-wrapped containers,
marked “DO NOT EAT,”
leeching life out of whatever they touch.

No, you should not ask for prayer in school,
for it will be as if you had lit an oil lamp,
and then hidden it under your mattress,*
because those who actually come to know the God you claim to worship
will become a flame,
and then
you will burn while you sleep.

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