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Cheesepanini


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 2:27am Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
My 9 year old son complained this morning that one of his teachers was making him pray. When he explained to her that he didn't believe in god she said:

"It's not about religion, we're just giving thanks." and insisted that he join in.

This morning I told him he should refuse to do it if he felt it was the right thing to do. At end of school today it happened again so we went to see her. It was with mixed gobsmackedness and glee that I found myself being told:

"We're not praying to god."

"Who are you praying to then?"

She didn't know. Tricky one that.

She actually tried to argue with me about whether or not my son should pray. Partly, I found myself overjoyed that someone was stupid enough to want to explore this concept with a fiercely anti-god mother, and partly I was jaw-hangingly appalled that she had the temerity to do so.

Luckily, she was rescued by another teacher before she could get herself into too deep a pile of poo.

I can't help wondering what the possible consequences would be if I were a member of a Muslim community living in a city, instead of an atheist living in rural North Wales.

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Soupy Twist


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 8:54am Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
Of course prayer is religious, it is defined as such. You could have told her that the freedom of religion works both ways - your son has the fundamental right not to follow any religion. He doesn't want it and she has no right to force religion on him.

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jordache


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 11:57am Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
It strikes me reading this very interesting topic, that perhaps, with all due respect to your personal beliefs, that something here has been missed. Here is a child in a school with his class mates joining in a group activity. Group activities in schools are vitally important as they teach basic life skills, about sharing, fitting in and socializing, and not ostracizing or being ostracized, and also discussion on subjects that take a young person outside its comfort zone. Children, I have learnt are a lot wiser than a parent is prepared to credit. They learn from a very early age how to buck the system and use it as a way to elevate themselves in their own social standing, (the I don't want or the I don't like rebellion), its rather like the child who fearing the bully, joins in the bullying so as not to become the centre of attention of the bully. Its called working the system, or survival by any other name. I can see what the teacher was getting at about not praying to God as such, even if she was unable to discuss it with you. I know children of a young age are incapable of making up their minds about a religious idea, just as they are with political issues. all they can do is recite them from things they have heard, usually in the first instance from their parents, secondly, or is it the other way round, from the TV. Belief in a God figure and all that goes with it? I am beyond middle age and I still haven't worked that one out. I look at the TV and see newsreels of children standing with Kalashnikov rifles in their hands, I see starving children in a world of unbelievable poverty, and I ask where is the God in all this failure. Then I can look at a newborn child..... Unfortunately I went to a school where the norm was to ostracize the different, and it was condoned by the teaching staff themselves, who were themselves the biggest bullies of all. Life is hard enough without the new child making it harder for itself, it needs to be encouraged in the basic life skills so that it can survive and make considered judgements itself in adulthood. It needs to see the fuller picture as best it can, by encouragement.

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Maxx England


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 12:57pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
An atheist in North Wales? Be careful, they'll build a wicker man outside the chapel doors just for you .

I think it's emotionally healthy for your son to have the strength of character to stand up for himself, and for clear thinking to prevail. I just can't help wondering how big the "rural community" is where you are, and how your stance will influence the actions of those around you. It might be that some, emboldened by your stance, will come out as atheists too; others might act positively to ostracise you and your son for offending against their narrow religious beliefs.

That last concerns me, I was always an outsider at school and if that can be avoided (without losing self esteem), then it should be avoided. Being young is a time of great insecurity and vulnerability, kids need all the help they can get.

The only way is forward. Now where's the bar?

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Cheesepanini


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 3:06pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
Jordache.

One can either follow one's own beliefs and do the right thing, regardless of popularity or bury objections and follow the crowd in order to fit in and be better liked. The former may be the harder path but one maintains one's self-respect. I will not advise him to submerge his convictions in order to have a quiet life.

My son knows he must respect the beliefs of others. Equally, he knows his beliefs should receive the same respect.

And they are his beliefs, not just parroted parental beliefs. Of course, he knows my views on religion, but I know that even if I were devout, he would question my views as he questions everything and he would find his own path regardless.

When we left the school I suggested to him that if he was going to take this stand he should be able to back it up. I wanted him to think about his answers, should his teacher ask him why he did not believe in god. I've never asked him about his views on religion before, I wasn't even aware that they prayed at his school until he mentioned that he had been made to join in. He had a pretty good answer for everything I could come up with.

The only stumbling block we came upon was this: Until recently, he still believed in Father Christmas. How could we reconcile those two things?

Well, we haven't really yet. But we concluded thus:

No-one ever went to war with a neighbour because they believed in a different Santa. (Probably, we mused, because the bombs, being christmas puddings, would be somewhat ineffective. And then the conversation just got silly.)

So there you have it. He walks his own path and I can only support him on it.

Kathy

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Cheesepanini


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 3:23pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
Maxx.

I don't think I've any need to worry about other locals getting offended. The community isn't very small and is a good mix of people from all walks.

Though I worry about any trouble my son may bring down on himself by way of his "strength of character", I am very proud of him when he stands up for himself, especially against an authority figure, something that I was never encouraged to do.

His school is tiny and it is easy to be an outsider when there are few children to find shared interests with. This concerns me too. However, his dislike of football is far more likely to get him ostracised than his refusal to pray.

I'll be keeping an eye on the chapel door.

Kathy

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jordache


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 6:13pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
I clearly remember an occasion at school when great humour circulated in the RI class. RI, Religious Instruction, now there is a term from an ancient curriculum, giving my age away. Any way a child was being ridiculed because he had proclaimed that he believed in God because his RI teacher had told him it was true. The master's face was a picture of embarrassment as he tried to cope with the child's sincere belief on the one side and the laughing class on the other. With it being a church school, ie, affiliated to a church in the district, we, the pupils had no choice but to conform with its ethos, with the minister of that church regularly visiting and getting involved with the school's daily life. The Headmaster, a saintly b.....d, who never missed an opportunity to proclaim the virtues of the school and its affiliation with the church, was not above handing out violent punishment in the form of caning, for any misdemeanour, great or small. At the tender age of six or seven I was thrashed with the cane for drawing a naked lady in my school book. I was paraded in front of the school and proclaimed to be a filthy degenerate, and a pervert. At the age of six I did not know what filthy degenerate or pervert meant, and the only time I had seen a breast in my life was as a baby at feeding time. But the head's implication was that I was sexual depraved or worse. That was the way school was then and the so called teachers in it. I felt so thankful when corporal punishment was banned in schools and may the day NEVER dawn when it returns. That was my upbringing in a so called 'caring' church affiliated school. Today, many years on, our schools are safer places, even though I remember my school days as though they were yesterday, such was the trauma, the many cases of child abuse in the name of education, hitting pupils with cricket bats, pieces of wood, hours of detention leaving the child to find its way home, 4 miles in my case, through dark streets in winter. Pitting children unequally against each other in a gym boxing ring to sort out differences. Those dark days of education, seeming like something out of a Dickens book, are long gone. I learned to stand up for myself, and from a bullied weakling I went on to a successful career in the Military of which I am very proud. But I never forgot what it was like to be different as a result of others perceptions of me. I never totally believed in a God figure, but there were occasions in my army life especially in Northern Ireland and later when undergoing heart bypass surgery when I talked one to one with something within me and asked for support . At school as a small impressionable child I believed what a God was because I was told what to believe, now, years on, I know what I want a God to be if I am going to be able to believe, but I haven't found him yet. Absolutely it is a great thing and necessary for a child to learn to stand up for itself, so long as it does so on the back of the right reasons, not from the perceptions others have. That's my philosophy anyway, it didn't do me any harm, I know I don't have any sexual hang-ups, and the bullies long ago learned to stay away. I wish your child every success in his education and life to come.

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Cheesepanini


Member

Posted Tue Dec 16th, 2008 8:56pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
My son would like his own say so I will type as he speaks.

"I'm really interested in everything that's being said and I'm glad that people are giving time to think about the subject No-one at school has said anything negative about me refusing to pray yet. If I were to be cut off by some of the other children, I'd still have lots more friends who don't care whether I pray or not "

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M-y-s-t-e-r-y


Member

Posted Wed Dec 17th, 2008 9:01pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
I have just read this and found it a very interesting subject...
I went to a Church of England Primary school. We were all made to say prayer and grace before meals and in assembly, we didnt have a say in whether God existed. We had RE- Religious Education, In high school called RS- Religious Studies (why all the different names?) and were taught all the names of the chapters of the new testiment in order (where is that going to get primary school children in life?) a few of which, im ashamed to say, i can still remember.
After all that it was very annoying to my teachers when i told them in year 6 that "God didnt exist, did he? He is an imaginary friend."
I hope your son excersizes his own rights and puts forward his own beliefs, and that school his school is not quite as religious as mine was. Going to a C of E school doesnt turn you to god, nowadays it does the opposite.

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ChipChip


Member

Posted Wed Dec 17th, 2008 9:36pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
Indeed this is an interesting topic. Yet one that , in my opinion , receives too much attention. I mean not of course to imply that your worries are unfounded. That said, allow me to give you my two cents (or pence as the case may be ).
I myself have rather recently went through the school system in Ireland, infact i'm still in the process of exams. But i think I may have an insight into this topic that one of an older generation might not.
The reason I say this topic receives too much attention, is that when a child, who is clearly insightful for his age, formulates his own religious ideas and refuses to be told what to believe, this child is not going to be effected by this simple act of praying. I fondly remember when i was asked to pray in my Irish catholic school in southern Ireland. I would Mouth off the words, never truly seeking meaning in them. But praying none the less because to be seen doing otherwise was abnormal. I thought i did not want the hasstle of the questions as to why I was not praying. I even Learned the Words to a prayer in Irish (when i say words, i mean the noise i had to make to so it would sound as though i was praying). This was from a very early age and i came out with a healthy dislike for the Church.
I'm Currently 16 and by this stage have formulated my own religious views. They are by no means informed by the Prayers i was Forced to say and i believe that your son should Abstain from this ritual if he so chooses and if he has the confidence to do so that is indeed a fantastic thing.
However, I think that by no means should you be worried about the subject, somehow i don't think it's going to be any problem at all

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joan


Member

Posted Thu Dec 18th, 2008 8:28am Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
Prayers and hymns at school in my day were voluntary - parents could opt their kids out in advance - mostly this was Jewish kids back then.

Problems of teaching religion in a secular world could easily be solved by teaching philosophy instead. The subject could be geared to any age-group, and they could learn about all the religions, as well as ethics, social mores, and other aspects of human beliefs and behaviour.

But I think there is very little understanding about what religion is these days - no wonder that silly teacher got all mixed up about prayer - she'd no idea.

I went to Sunday School as a little kid (parents loved sending kids there - it gave them cost-free peace and quiet). Anyway, it enables me to have a bit of fun with folks selling religion door to door - you know - the JWs etc. I know enough to flummox them, and stop them calling again.

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Maxx England


Member

Posted Thu Dec 18th, 2008 1:24pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
I personally like the boy in question. He may well turn out to be the AntiChrist incarnate, but HE DOESN'T LIKE FOOTBALL! Well done!

The only way is forward. Now where's the bar?

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Cheesepanini


Member

Posted Thu Dec 18th, 2008 8:14pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
I personally like the boy in question. He may well turn out to be the AntiChrist incarnate, but HE DOESN'T LIKE FOOTBALL! Well done!

I like you, Maxx England!



An interesting development: Another boy in the class announced that as he did not believe in god either, he would not be praying. He was given short shrift by the teacher (the headmaster) and told to get on with it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he or his parents make a scene.

A christmas rebellion!

Kathy

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Jarus


Member

Posted Thu Dec 18th, 2008 9:42pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
So nice to be on a forum such as this, had I raised this on a few other forums I frequent I'm sure it would have been trolled, derailed and someone would have posted something NSFW before we had even reached the second page

I personally went to a Catholic Primary School and simply went along with saying the Lords Prayer at the end of the day and singing Hymns in assembly. I was not at all religious then and my views certainly haven't changed since, although I have retained a great fondness for the hymns I used to sing. Not surprising really considering I didn't realise there was a problem with my eyesight at the time and I couldn't see the words on the projector so I learnt them all off by heart.

It's interesting how informed children are in comparison to how my friends and I were at that age. Anyway all I have to say to you and your son is Vive La Revolution! I have no doubt that if I had not wanted to say any prayers or even sing hymns at my school then I would have simply been asked to stand quietly while everyone else did, certainly not forced to conform.

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Corona


Member

Posted Fri Dec 19th, 2008 1:32pm Post subject: "Praying - not about religion!"
i have lived all my life fitting in. I did things I did not like. Some of thtem made me feel very unhappy. Now I have Come Out to a few friends I realise that fitting in isnt right. You have to be yourself or you will live being unhappy and it will spread out from you and make the world worse.

I have been told the word of god says I am wrong. I say the bible is wrong, it was written by men who did not know anything and want everybody else to know nothing.

I must say it again, you have to be yourself or nothing you do means anything.

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