Difference between revisions of "Talk:School prayer"

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What I am trying to point out is that if there are other avenues (like I stated above with lunchtime bible study (or Koran study even?), school chapel etc) then there is not a need for any classroom prayer of any kind.
 
What I am trying to point out is that if there are other avenues (like I stated above with lunchtime bible study (or Koran study even?), school chapel etc) then there is not a need for any classroom prayer of any kind.
 
[[User:MetcalfeM|MetcalfeM]] 17:41, 4 March 2008 (EST)
 
[[User:MetcalfeM|MetcalfeM]] 17:41, 4 March 2008 (EST)
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: As a veteran teacher of teenagers for nearly six years, Metcalfe, I can assure you that classroom prayer is ''immensely'' helpful to learning and behavior.  Moreover, nearly all the great minds drew upon [[prayer]] and the [[Bible]] for their ''intellectual'' insights.  So your statement that "there is not a need for any classroom prayer of any kind" is a bit like saying "there is not a need for a textbook or a teacher, or for water in a desert."  There most certainly is a need for it.--[[User:Aschlafly|Aschlafly]] 17:50, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Revision as of 16:50, 4 March 2008

Is it not secular?

Andy,

Is it not a secular culture keeping government and religion apart? Not an atheistic culture as you claim.--JBuscombe 13:13, 1 January 2008 (EST)

"Secular" means public, and reflects public beliefs, as in saying the Pledge of Allegiance, reciting a prayer during the beginning of a congressional session, or swearing in a new president through use of a Bible. Public schools are more properly described as atheistic, where religion is affirmatively censored.--Aschlafly 13:17, 1 January 2008 (EST)
"Secular" means separate from religion. It does not imply public. Also there is no prohibition of prayer in school. That is also protected by the first amendment. Students can pray any time without disrupting the school. What the critics are against is being forced to attend the prayer or the prayer being led by an authoritative figure like teacher. So it is not atheistic , just secular.--JBuscombe 13:22, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Also how would you feel if you are forced to sit through a Muslim prayer led by the teacher every day? Now, do you get the point? --JBuscombe 13:26, 1 January 2008 (EST)
There is a prohibition on prayer in public school, and it is deceitful to pretend otherwise. The prayers that start legislative sessions through the United States cannot be said to start the schoolday or a class in public school.--Aschlafly 13:38, 1 January 2008 (EST)
Are you happy for your child to be forced to sit through an islamic prayer led by a Muslim teacher every day? --JBuscombe 14:35, 1 January 2008 (EST)
5 times a day, actually. SSchultz 14:39, 1 January 2008 (EST)

Not necessarily - the dawn, sunset, and dusk ones would probably not be during the school day, unless one was boarding/homeschooling. Also, in an avowedly liberal school over here in the UK, I can pray whenever I want, so long as it doesn't disrupt teaching. --JOwen


Although I essentially side with Andy on this issue, I was going to say that I don't agree with him on the definition of "secular". However, in checking my facts, it appears that Andy is closer to the truth that anyone here has given him credit for, even if the particular way he expressed it is not exactly right.

  • OneLook gives the meaning as "concerning those not members of the clergy", although I don't know which dictionary it got that from.
  • Merriam-Webster gives one of the definitions as "not ecclesiastical or clerical", and gives secular courts as an example.
  • The Online Etymology Dictionary says that the word started off (in 1290) as meaning '"living in the world, not belonging to a religious order," also "belonging to the state"'.

It appears that the word, which I'd say started in a society that was Christian, did not originally mean "without religion", but "not part of the religious establishment". The secular courts example above illustrates this. A secular court was distinct from a church court. It had to do with which authority (church or state) controlled it; it was not to do with whether or not religion was involved. Religion (i.e. Christianity) was involved regardless. That is, the state, although distinct from the church still recognised the church as a co-equal authority.

In modern times, it has come to mean "without religion" as one of its most-commonly-used meanings (particularly by atheists and the like), but this appears to not be an original meaning, and so Andy is justified in making the comment that he does.

Furthermore, and this is where I agreed with him anyway, any state that excludes religion is not religiously neutral, but is taking sides, with the atheists. I don't believe that Andy's gripe is that schools don't have to have prayer, but that they are not allowed to have prayer (and we're not talking about students silently or privately praying). If the state allowed, but didn't enforce school prayer, they would be religiously neutral. But if they ban it, they are no longer being religiously neutral.

Philip J. Rayment 07:59, 2 January 2008 (EST)


Bible study paragraph

This paragraph wasn't about prayer, but it's still good for an article about the Bible and public schools:

From 2004 to 2006, a public school banned Bible study by children ... during recess. A teacher complained about the use of the Bible and the principal then censored the study activity, according to a sworn statement by a teacher told to stop it. Principal "Summa, having learned of a complaint by a teacher and of the students' Bible study, told fourth-grade teacher Virginia Larue to nix the group's recess meeting. Larue did, according to her deposition. In that sworn statement, Larue said she briefly informed Summa of a parental complaint about the Bible study, and Summa then instructed her to end the practice, citing fear over "separation of church and state." Larue later told one of Luke's Bible study colleagues the group could no longer meet at recess, according to the deposition."[1]

Jinxmchue 18:18, 27 January 2008 (EST)

You are drawing a hairsplitting distinction that is not worth making. Bible study is often associated with prayer, and if Bible study is banned, then prayer is also. In borderline cases, we leave material in the entry because it is informative. We disfavor censorship of valuable information.--Aschlafly 20:15, 27 January 2008 (EST)
Well, then maybe we need to have the article renamed to "Religion in public schools" and formatted with headings about prayer and the Bible, because there are lots of incidents where students simply reading the Bible have been chastised. Jinxmchue 21:23, 27 January 2008 (EST)
I think changing the title is a good idea (although I have a problem with the term "public schools" (see that link). "Religion in schools" has broader application than "School prayer". Philip J. Rayment 02:18, 28 January 2008 (EST)

Query

Hi guys, I have a query. Firstly, as a Non-US citizen, I dont want to discuss whether or not prayer in school should be legal/illegal but I am wondering why it is such a big issue. In my school we had the lords prayer before a school assembly and those who were not religious (or of other religions) did not have to participate but we certainly did not have to have prayer before the start of each day. The reasons being is that people who want to pray would certainly pray before school with their family. Surely also a teacher can pray for/with his class either before the school day or lead those students in prayer who wish to privately. I think it is the parents who instill values and religion and should not be the realm of the government or school. Unless of course it is a catholic/sunday school/what-have-you that the parents have choosen to send their children to. MetcalfeM 20:21, 3 March 2008 (EST)

(Reply from a non-US citizen!) In America all prayer that is in any way "endorsed" by the school (including implicitly) is effectively illegal. This includes the Lord's Prayer at an assembly, prayer by a teacher (whether in class or not), prayer by anyone during class time, and even prayer by a student at any gathering sanctioned by the school, it seems. There's video online of a student acknowledging God (not actually praying) in her graduation speech (I think it was, or something like that) having the microphone turned off by the school because of that. It's not so much that prayer is not endorsed or encouraged, but that it is banned (or censored, if you like). That is, if the teacher wants to pray, and the student have no objection, the teacher is still not permitted to. Philip J. Rayment 20:42, 3 March 2008 (EST)
Well put, Philip. MetcalfeM, it's called censorship when something is permitted to be said only at home, or only in special place. Liberal concepts like evolution are not censored in the classroom. Why is prayer censored there?--Aschlafly 20:46, 3 March 2008 (EST)
In America, I can legally go into a bar and flirt with the females without any problem. But if I were a teacher, and I did that to one of the students, I would be (correctly) disciplined and/or fired for that behavior. Is that censorship, Aschlafly? According to your definition it is. Do you support the right of teachers to flirt with their students? --Jdellaro 08:06, 4 March 2008 (EST)
Censorship is suppression of information, not an action. And censorship is often used—and I expect that this is the way Andy is using it—to mean unreasonable suppression of an idea. That is, I very much doubt that Andy is opposed to all censorship, but banning of school prayer is unreasonable censorship. Philip J. Rayment 08:15, 4 March 2008 (EST)
First off, Andy specifically said, "it's called censorship when something is permitted to be said only at home, or only in special place." I used the word, "flirting", but if you'd prefer, if I went into a bar and made sexually suggestive comments to females, that would be accepted. But I couldn't do that in a classroom. Is that censorship? And if censorship is suppression of information, how is leading a class in prayer considered, "information" as opposed to "action"? And where's the line drawn between reasonable censorship and unreasonable censorship?--Jdellaro 09:54, 4 March 2008 (EST)

That I understand. While I wouldnt agree with a teacher leading a prayer in class for the whole class regardless of belief or parents wishes I would certainly agree that it is not right for a blanket ban to be imposed. I mean, I am not religious however if I was part of a school sports team and some of my team members wished to have a prayer circle, while I may not join them, I wouldn't care. Each to there own I say. MetcalfeM 21:17, 3 March 2008 (EST)

You are censoring the teacher or coach with respect to prayer, but not with respect to their expressing liberal views. Why do you support such censorship?--Aschlafly 21:28, 3 March 2008 (EST)

I support no censorship. Did you not read my post? I dont think it is a teachers responsibility to lead my children in prayer. That is my responsibilty. However if a teacher wishes to pray with the religious students of his/her class then fine, go right ahead. But on their own time (5 mins before class starts maybe?) not my childrens time. Also, if the coach wants to pray with his team, go right ahead, but I wouldn't join the prayer circle and shouldn't have to be exposed to it. But I have no problem whatsoever with a prayer being said as long as it is done respectifully to others beliefs (and vice versa). MetcalfeM 21:36, 3 March 2008 (EST)

I did read your post, and reread it. You said, "While I wouldnt agree with a teacher leading a prayer in class for the whole class ...." That's called censorship of the teacher. There is no other (logical) way to describe it. You're likely fine with the teacher leading the class on evolution or his views about a political candidate. But, oh no, NOT prayer. That's censorship, plain and simple. You're fighting logic, not me, to deny it.--Aschlafly 21:51, 3 March 2008 (EST)

Excuse me Ashlafly, I didnt mention evolution or politics once! "However if a teacher wishes to pray with the religious students of his/her class then fine, go right ahead. But on their own time (5 mins before class starts maybe?) not my childrens time" How is this censorship of the teacher? MetcalfeM 21:55, 3 March 2008 (EST)


Okay, there's two issues here. One, should a teacher be prevented from praying where no student objects or students have the choice of opting out? On that, it appears to me that Andy and MetcalfeM both agree that the teacher should be allowed to.

The second issue is whether or not a teacher should be allowed to pray in a situation where the students object and can't opt out. MetcalfeM says that they should not be allowed to in that case. Andy thinks that they should. Andy is trying to say that MetcalfeM is being inconsistent in believing that a teacher should not be allowed to pray in that circumstance, yet believe that a teacher should be allowed to put other views to the class, such as political or evolutionary. Now MetcalfeM is being in consistent if he thinks that, but he hasn't said that he does, so it's premature to accuse him of that. And I would not be at all surprised if MetcalfeM says that teachers should not be allowed to put political views. Similarly, I would be surprised (but it's still possible) that MetcalfeM thinks that teachers should not promote evolution.

But regardless what MetcalfeM thinks, the real point is that in America (and other places, although perhaps not so rigidly), teachers are banned from promoting or even implicitly endorsing a Christian view (praying in class is hardly forcing a view on people), yet are required to promote (explicitly endorse) the anti-Christian view of evolution (for example). That is a glaring inconsistency, rationalised only on the false claim that one is "religious" and the other is "science".

Philip J. Rayment 22:23, 3 March 2008 (EST)

Nice clarification Phillip! Yes I do believe that it is fine for a teacher to pray with students if they agree etc etc as you pointed out. I also dont think that teachers should push political beliefs unless asked directly what the think. Same with relgious beliefs. As for evolution, well, I think that evolution should be taught in science class however I am a bit divided on creation being taught alongside. To be honest I haven't given it a lot of thought but if pressed I could say that it would be an idea to teach the holes in evolution? Maybe let students make their own minds up? Its a thorny issue which, to be honest, I dont really want to debate. Thanks for your clarification though Phillip. You aussies aint all bad you know! MetcalfeM 22:32, 3 March 2008 (EST)

I also think that evolution should be taught, simply because so many people believe it that it's something that everyone should know about. But it should not be taught as truth, as it usually is. The opposition to Christian views, however, extends even to the extreme of banning telling students that they should keep an open mind about evolution! Philip J. Rayment 23:02, 3 March 2008 (EST)
Thanks Philip, that seems like a fairly rational assessment. It does often seem like there is a double standard in these issues that is not often recognized. Feebasfactor 22:34, 3 March 2008 (EST)

I welcome Metcalfe saying that he's fine with a teacher praying with a class if everyone agrees, but very few people really base their view on that distinction and, frankly, Metcalfe himself didn't either. It was Philip who introduced that distinction. Nearly everyone who opposes classroom prayer also opposes it even if no one objects. Moreover, why would the objection of just one student be able to cause the censorship of everyone else? That doesn't make much sense, and it is a form of censorship.--Aschlafly 22:40, 3 March 2008 (EST)

Phillip did claify what I was trying to get across actually. He explained it better than I did is all. Anyways, I'm off for the day. Enjoy the debate without the token atheist! ;-) MetcalfeM 22:46, 3 March 2008 (EST)

It's probably true that "Nearly everyone who opposes classroom prayer also opposes it even if no one objects", but there are exceptions, and we have to be careful not to presume that any particular individual fits the stereotype. I also agree that the objection of a single student should not be able to stop everyone else having prayer. In some circumstances, being able to opt out is a good practice, but when it comes to prayer, having a student leave the classroom for the 30 seconds (or whatever, it could well be longer, but might well be quite short also) that a prayer is being said is unnecessary mucking around. Also, atheists consider prayer to be meaningless, so what harm is there if a student has to listen to a prayer being said? It's not like the student is required to participate (pray also) or believe; all he has to do is sit there quietly while the prayer is being said. What's so wrong with that? Philip J. Rayment 23:02, 3 March 2008 (EST)

Andy and Phil, I have a hypothetical question. Let's say an observant Jewish child (like mine) is in a majority Christian class, and feels, well, very uncomfortable when the teacher wants to lead the class in the Lord's Prayer? Is it just "tough knuckles" for my boy? We do have a bit of unpleasant history around these issues.LeonardH 23:37, 3 March 2008 (EST)
What is so "tough" about it? What's so hard about him simply sitting through it? Philip J. Rayment 23:48, 3 March 2008 (EST)
Being in the majority religion, I'm sure it's not obvious. It sends a systemic message of exclusion - "this is not your school" - and suggests that one religion has priority over the other in affairs of state. Constitutionally... that shouldn't be the case.-PhoenixWright 23:51, 3 March 2008 (EST)
I'm not talking constitutionally. How does it "send a message of exclusion"? The very fact that a predominantly Christian environment welcomes Jews indicates that they are not excluded! Philip J. Rayment 00:08, 4 March 2008 (EST)
"Welcome! Glad you're here! Now sit there, okay good, and listen while you tell you about our religion. No no, we'd rather not hear about yours."-PhoenixWright 00:13, 4 March 2008 (EST)
So now we've switched from praying to talking about a religion? I must have missed that switch. Philip J. Rayment 00:20, 4 March 2008 (EST)
Isn't praying a religion-specific speech act?-PhoenixWright 00:22, 4 March 2008 (EST)
Huh? Yes, you could invent that term for it, but that's like saying that a robin is a bird, and a crow is a bird, so a robin is a crow. We were talking specifically about prayer. Philip J. Rayment 00:33, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Let's say you lived in northern new jersey in a mostly jewish town. If the teacher wanted to say the Shema before every class, which is a prayer which basically repudiated Christianity, what would you suggest for your kid?LeonardH 23:50, 3 March 2008 (EST)

To witness to his fellow students. Philip J. Rayment 00:08, 4 March 2008 (EST)
So school should become a free-for-all, religion-off, where students are encouraged to disrupt each other's learning by pushing their beliefs at each other in an unmediated environment?-PhoenixWright 00:13, 4 March 2008 (EST)
Please show me where in my comment I said anything about witnessing during class time, in a disruptive way, or by pushing their beliefs on others. Or retract the comment. Philip J. Rayment 00:20, 4 March 2008 (EST)
I'm just trying to point out that encouraging students to speak up for themselves assumes (1) that children can and are willing to, and will always do so, (2) and that there will be no social consequences for them. What school child, surrounded by religions different than his own, will react first by trying to convert them, or defend themselves?-PhoenixWright 00:22, 4 March 2008 (EST)
So you didn't show me where I said that, and you didn't retract it as requested.
Encouraging a student to witness does assume that children can do so, but they can, so that's not an issue. It doesn't presume that they are willing; if anything it assumes the opposite, as you often encourage someone to do something that they are not willing to do. And for the same reason, neither does it assume that they will do so. Neither does it assume that there will be no social consequences, and neither have you explained the relevance of that. What school child will witness? One who has been taught sufficiently well to have confidence in himself and his beliefs, and one who has been encouraged to do so.
Philip J. Rayment 00:33, 4 March 2008 (EST)
So, you would be comfortable if a Muslim student witnessed to your child on a daily basis? Or would you consider this harrassment? If this would be harassment, then so would it be for your child to witness to other students. Again, are you suggesting you would feel comfortable if your child was told to sit quietly at his desk while a Hindu encouraged student to open their third eye and worship the god Vishnu? SSchultz 00:54, 4 March 2008 (EST)
It could be harassment if they were asked to stop and didn't, but it need not be harassment. Not only would I feel quite comfortable with a Muslim child witnessing to my child, I would welcome it. I witnessed to some Mormons once; I invited them into my home and allowed them to say what they wanted. Having done that, I then had a right to say to them what I wanted to say. Similarly, a Muslim child witnessing to my child would at the very least impose an obligation on the Muslim child to return the favour, as well as indicate that the child is open to discussing such issues. It's other religions, such as atheism, that have beliefs so fragile that they have to censor opposing views. I would not object to my child having to sit through a worship of Vishnu if (a) the school was a Hindu-run school, (b) the school was in a predominantly Hindu country, or (c) if the school was a government school in a Christian country but in a predominantly Hindu area and openly intended to provide education to Hindus. Philip J. Rayment 01:26, 4 March 2008 (EST)

The creative attempts to justify classroom prayer are illogical and self-contradictory:

  • the censors oppose classroom prayer even all want to participate in it
  • the censors oppose classroom prayer even if an objection by one can be addressed without banning the prayer
  • the censors oppose classroom prayer even though objections to atheistic speech are rejected

Only an extremely biased person would fail to recognize that the above three positions can only be reconciled in one way: the censors oppose classroom prayer for a reason independent of any purported offense.--Aschlafly 08:52, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Might I add my two English pence? I recently spent a week in Belgium doing some work experience in a primary school. Over there, they have absolutely no religious themes or practices in classrooms, since, particularly where I worked, there is a big mix of ethnicities and religions. However, every week an hour was set aside for children to attend "religious classes", where all beliefs were catered for. For example, all the Jewish children would attend a class run by a local rabbi, the Muslims by a local cleric and so on. Children who had no religious affiliation would go to "morals and ethics". Surely this is an effective way of solving the "classroom prayer" quandry? Having certain times set aside for Religious Education where kids can be led in prayer by leaders of their own faith? Perhaps I am way out, but I thought it might be worth pointing out that it is possible to reach a compromise in regards to religion and prayer in classrooms. --Crookles 09:07, 4 March 2008 (EST)
Thanks for your two English pence, which is informative, but this debate is about classroom prayer, and while your scenario is an improvement it still does not end the censorship in classroom prayer. I start my class in writing with 40 teenagers with a simple, non-denominational prayer, sometimes said by me and sometimes said by a volunteer student. As you can see here, there are some who demand censorship of that, at least in public school.--Aschlafly 09:20, 4 March 2008 (EST)

The token atheist is back again! Anyways, while I dont believe (just my opnion mind you) there is a place in the actual classroom specifically for a prayer (English class is for english, maths class is for maths) I have no problem with religion being expressed in a public school by anyone from the teachers to the principal to the students. The censorship you experience in the US is taking it too far. If the class does not mind then why not? Shouldnt be an issue. It is a fine line but you can easily find a middle ground. Particulary if, as Andy stated above, it is something innocuous and non-denominational. I think I have had my 2 cents now. I might move on to other things. MetcalfeM 15:22, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Metcalfe, I appreciate your comments ... I think. Why the rush to leave before a logical conclusion is drawn here? You said, "If the class does not mind then why not"? There is no rational reason "why not," but there a reason based on hostility to prayer, and to God. Atheists say they disbelieve God exists, on the one hand, but then are often hostile to God on the other. This is one (of many) logical contradictions about atheism. I'm building a list at atheistic logic. Thanks for inspiring this addition.--Aschlafly 15:46, 4 March 2008 (EST)
Andy, could you please clarify what you mean by "Atheists say they disbelieve God exists, on the one hand, but then are often hostile to God on the other". I think you may have made a typo or something, or it may just be me. Either way, I would appreciate it if you could reiterate your point. --Crookles 15:52, 4 March 2008 (EST)
Why are atheists hostile to someone whom they say does not exist? The contradiction is logic is in atheism, not in my description of it.--Aschlafly 15:59, 4 March 2008 (EST)

I had put in my two cents and the reason my conclusion is drawn is that I cannot speak for anyone else, anyones belief. I, while an atheist, am not hostile to the idea of God at all. I dislike 'Bible thumping' but have no problem with religion itself. As I said before, each to their own! MetcalfeM 16:16, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Yes, Metcalfe, that is what atheists say, but then they censor classroom prayer. Hence the logical contradiction. You have gone further than most atheists on this issue, but you have still not allowed real classroom prayer in public school: a prayer to start my writing class, for example, which we say every week.--Aschlafly 16:44, 4 March 2008 (EST)

As I stated above, I think the laws in the US take it too far. My opnion is different from yours, as yours are to mine. I dont think prayer should be raised in the classroom, thats what I think however I dont think it matters if the class agrees to pray or a coach joins his team in prayer before the big match. In my high school (jeez, how many years ago now!) there was prayer in assembly and a group of christians formed a club that used to meet at lunchtimes for bible study etc. There are many other avenues for prayer and religion, like I have stated above and, if there are these avenues, then it need not be brought into English lessons for example. But, I understand that in the US you dont have these avenues. That is my opinion and I believe it is fair to all in the multicultural society of NZ. But again, I know it is different for you in the US. MetcalfeM 16:58, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Metcalfe, in other words, like nearly all atheists, you oppose classroom prayer. You can say that in only four words.--Aschlafly 17:06, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Lets look at what I said in quotes... "I dont think it matters if the class agrees to pray or a coach joins his team in prayer before the big match" "If the class does not mind then why not? Shouldnt be an issue. It is a fine line but you can easily find a middle ground. Particulary if, as Andy stated above, it is something innocuous and non-denominational" "I do believe that it is fine for a teacher to pray with students if they agree" "But I have no problem whatsoever with a prayer being said as long as it is done respectifully to others beliefs (and vice versa)"

So where is my opposition? I think that as long as there is no opposition then prayer is fine in class. I wouldn't oppose if my teacher lead the class in prayer but I wouldnt listen either. Also, if there is a lunchtime bible group (lead by a teacher as was the case at my school) then it is not nessacary (spelling is wrong I know) for a class to begin with a prayer as those who wish to express their religion can do so without having to make the Jews, Hindus or Muslims feel like their religion is not being recognized (or insulted as the case may be). Where I am from it is not an issue as schools have areas, outside the classroom, where relgion is praticed and respected. We had a chapel at my school anyway so there was no need for prayer in class. MetcalfeM 17:17, 4 March 2008 (EST)

Should any kind of prayer be acceptable for the teacher to lead the class in? Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, etc.? I'm not quite sure... what do you think? Feebasfactor 17:36, 4 March 2008 (EST)

What I am trying to point out is that if there are other avenues (like I stated above with lunchtime bible study (or Koran study even?), school chapel etc) then there is not a need for any classroom prayer of any kind. MetcalfeM 17:41, 4 March 2008 (EST)

As a veteran teacher of teenagers for nearly six years, Metcalfe, I can assure you that classroom prayer is immensely helpful to learning and behavior. Moreover, nearly all the great minds drew upon prayer and the Bible for their intellectual insights. So your statement that "there is not a need for any classroom prayer of any kind" is a bit like saying "there is not a need for a textbook or a teacher, or for water in a desert." There most certainly is a need for it.--Aschlafly 17:50, 4 March 2008 (EST)
  1. http://knoxnews.com/news/2008/jan/03/recess-bible-study-spurs-lawsuit/