On the effectiveness of prayer

From time to time various people attempt to study the effect of prayer under real-world conditions, and it occurs to me that we have ideal conditions for undertaking such a study right now. The Cranston West High School has recently concluded a 48-year experiment in which students were exposed to a specific “School Prayer” on a daily basis. Has this prayer worked? Granted, atheists and unbelievers of various sorts might be expected to resist the effects of pious appeals to the Almighty Heavenly Father, so we shouldn’t look at the impact it has had on the godless. Instead, let’s examine the specific petitions in the prayer and see how it has changed believers’ lives, attitudes, and conduct.

The Prayer Christian Students’ Attitude/Conduct
Our Heavenly Father, grant us each day the desire to do our best to grow mentally and morally as well as physically, Margaret
@jessicaahlquist U little brainless idiot, hope u will be punished, you have not win sh..t! Stupid little brainless skunk!
to be kind and helpful to our classmates and teachers, iCrothsnotTM
@jessicaahlquist How does it feel to be the most hated person in RI right now? Your a puke and a disgrace to the human race. It’s still up!

Jessica Ahlquist
My home address was posted in the comments on the projo website. I have little siblings and a sick mother. You cannot be serious. Retweeted by iCrothsnotTM

@jessicaahlquist Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

to be honest with ourselves as well as with others. amanda aldridge
she just destroyed a piece of cranston west’s history. hope you’re happy #stupidbitch
Help us to be good sports and smile when we lose as well as when we win. Matt Starchild May that little, evil athiest teenage girl and that judge BURN IN HELL!

Elijah Kilbane
If this banner comes down, hell i hope the school burns down with it!

Teach us the value of true friendship. Sydney Magner
Honestly I think the juniors are the most mad about the banner thing because all of us actually know the psycho bitch.
Help us always to conduct ourselves so as to bring credit to Cranston High School West. Amen. Gab Zaccaria
I think everyone should just fight this girl.Zach The Dog
Fuck Jessica alquist I’ll drop anchor on her face

Caleb McDevitt
im sabotaging her site on fb lets just say its going to be nuts you need in on dat dawg?

AJ St.Angelo
Let’s all jump the girl who did the banner #fuckthatho

Im Dante Smith
hail Mary full of grace @jessicaahlquist is gonna get punched in the face

(tons more like these)

I think that should settle the question once and for all: prayers like this clearly do not work, and might even be harmful.


  1. says

    Our Heavenly Father, grant us each day the desire to do our best to grow mentally and morally as well as physically

    The problem is obvious. They’re waiting for someone to grant them, not only good human qualities, but the desire to have good qualities.

    Any day now, right?

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    The banner has been down for just a few days, and already behaviour of students has deteriorated dramatically. QED.

  3. Aliasalpha says

    Do we have any information on what the people in this study were like prior to their exposure to this prayer? Without that, we can’t realy draw any conclusions, they may well have been even worse and the prayer may be a calming factor on their reprehensible behaviour or they could have been perfectly nice people and been pushed towards sickening hatred by the exposure.

  4. jokolomon says

    To Christians who deride those who don’t share your narrow-minded attitude about religion: You demonstrate your bigotry by contending that those who disagree with your myopic views should ignore the publicly funded promotion of religion, in other words…’shut up and accept your inferior status.’ You infer that Jessica Ahlquist and the ACLU were wrong in their interpretation of the First Amendment, and that your biased opinion is correct.

    It is you who are wrong.

    At the time the Constitution and then the Bill of Rights were written, the founders were acutely aware of current (1770’s and 1780’s) as well as historic colonial and world events (of the preceding 400 years). Unless you are ignorant of, or intentionally avoiding that history, you will know full well that some of the most heinous and inexcusable crimes against humanity had been and were still being committed by the Christian church…you know, torturing and burning “witches” and murdering “heretics” by the tens of thousands. And moreover, those indefensibly shameful crimes continued until the mid-1800’s. You should also know that many of the Constitution’s founders refused any further involvement with the Christian faith, choosing Deism or other beliefs, or atheism, and that these were men of unquestionably sound judgment and integrity.

    It was precisely because they lived during the commission of these inhumane atrocities by Christians that the founders made certain religion in the US would never again have the power of life or death, never again have the legal means to murder innocent people for holding religiously unacceptable thoughts or beliefs, and never again have the power of government enforcement for their narrow, judgmental doctrines.

    The First Amendment declared that secular law would in every case prevail over all religion by banning the establishment of any religion. Your insistence that the First Amendment gives religion the freedom to do as it chooses is completely false. You can hide from that history, but you cannot hide the truth.

    J. Peterson

    • E.A. Blair says

      …burning “witches” and murdering “heretics” by the tens of thousands.

      Please note: the most common methond of execution for people convicted of witchcraft was hanging; burning alive was reserved for heretics. The confusion may have arisen because the bodies of hanged witches were usually cremated to prevent their resurrection on the final day. You see, those Christians believed that while their omnipotent deity could bring a bag of bones back to life, he was helpless when it came to re-animating a pile of ashes (even today, a Catholic whose final wishes include cremation must sign a pre-mortem statement of belief in the afterlife for the church to approve it).

      Of the twenty-five people who died as a result of the Salem Witch Trials, for example, nineteen were hanged, one died under torture and the rest (and possibly more) died of unrecorded causes while imprisoned.

  5. The Lorax says

    I would ask, “Where’s the control group?” and “Are all those tweets from people exposed to that prayer?”, but the point is clear nonetheless. It seems that, just because you think you’re good, doesn’t mean you are.

    • Deacon Duncan says

      Sorry, didn’t have the time and resources for a full-blown study. Hey, do you think I could get a Templeton grant for this? 🙂

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