Wow, I’m impressed: The J Train finds a small guttering flicker of reason on WingNutDaily. It’s an article by a conservative Christian opposing public prayer at football games—he’d been in Hawai’i, where he’d been shocked to discover that pre-game prayers were given by Buddhist monks, and he found himself an uncomfortable minority in a sea of people following some strange religion (hmmm…does anybody else know what that’s like?)
It’s actually funny to read. He’s plainly horrified that he’d have to be in the presence of someone reciting a pagan prayer! He doesn’t quite get the response right, though.
We were frozen in shock and incredulity! What to do? To continue to stand and observe this prayer would represent a betrayal of our own faith and imply the honoring of a pagan deity that was anathema to our beliefs. To sit would be an act of extreme rudeness and disrespect in the eyes of our Japanese hosts and neighbors, who value above all other things deference and respect in their social interactions. I am sorry to say that in the confusion of the moment we chose the easier path and elected to continue to stand in silence so as not to create a scene or ill will among those who were seated nearby.
As I thought through the incident over the next few days I supposed that the duty of offering the pre-game prayer rotated through the local clergy and we just happened to arrive on the night that the responsibility fell to the Buddhist priest. However, after inquiring I learned that due to the predominance of Buddhist and Shinto adherents in this town, it was the normal practice to have a member of one these faiths offer the pre-game prayer, and Christian clergy were never included. Needless to say that was our first and last football game. Although many of the students we worked with continued to invite us to the games, we were forced to decline. We knew that if we were to attend again we would be forced to abstain from the pre-game activity. And not wanting to offend our Asiatic neighbors and colleagues, we simply refrained from attending.
Well…so his solution was to simply and completely withdraw from the social activity? I wonder how he’d react if the entire culture was saturated with overt displays of such religiosity—where courtrooms would claim their justice was founded on their religion, where the government, top to bottom, was loaded with official who would regularly trumpet their religious affiliation, where store owners would declare themselves adherents of particular faiths, and promise that a percentage of their profits would go to promote their beliefs, where much of the business of the town was mediated via contacts at places of worship? Would he divorce himself from the culture entirely, throw out his radio and TV, bunker down in his house and pray?
At least he appreciates part of the experience.
I would say in love to my Christian brothers and sisters, before you yearn for the imposition of prayer and similar rituals in your public schools, you might consider attending a football game at Wahiawa High School. Because unless you’re ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears, you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them. I, for one, slept better at night knowing that because Judeo-Christian prayers were not being offered at my children’s schools, I didn’t have to worry about them being confronted with Buddhist, Shinto, Wiccan, Satanic or any other prayer ritual I might find offensive.
Diversity of ideas is bad, I guess. I think I’ve got a new notion to keep the quality of my university’s students high, though: if the presence of this godless atheist on the faculty doesn’t scare the fanatics away, I just have to mention that our university events, such as the opening convocation of classes last week, often include a Native American blessing. Drums, chanting, the whole works.
I handle them the same way I do the Christian hymns we often get at the Christmas concert: sit quietly, enjoy the music if not the superstition, and take it as a positive aspect of the culture I live in.