Prayer in School

Honestly, I wish I could quote like every other page from Justo L. González's Mañana, but I can't, so let me encourage you to read it yourself. I wish I had read it earlier! This is González's stinging evaluation of those who complain about not being able to "pray in school" (published in 1990):

...there is in the United States a movement that proclaims itself in favor of prayer in public schools. People involved in the same movement have done everything possible to thwart bilingual education in public schools—a bilingual education that in most cases is merely remedial, thus already giving the impression that Spanish and other non-English languages are handicap to education. The campaign against bilingual education is in fact part of a much vaster campaign against all sorts of changes that would tend to erode the privilege of the dominant group—budgetary cuts in social programs, new immigration law, non enforcement of civil rights legislation, non enforcement of antipollution laws, concentration of greater power in the military-industrial complex, and so on. Thus the same political tendency that shows a significant lack of regard for the demands of justice of the biblical God urges prayer in school. Why? Certainly not because such prayer will make us a more just society—that does not seem to be the main concern of those who campaign for prayer in schools. Rather, the function of prayer in schools would be to sacralize the order of what are still segregated schools—and have become even more so in recent years. This ‘God’ to whim prayer will be addressed will not be the defender of the alien and the poor but rather the defender of our borders against ‘aliens’—who in Scripture have God’s protection—and of the dominant culture against the inroads of minorities. This ‘God’ is not the God of Scripture. It is a pagan god, and just as much an idol as were Baal and his cohorts.”
Mañana,, p. 89.

I was placed in a private school where we learned to pray to the deity of America in the name of Christ (who is not the Creator God, Father of Jesus Christ). It didn't change me for the better. It made me skeptical of Christianity for most of my adolescence and then the Christianity that I did adopt in my late teens had to be deconstructed and reconstructed in order for me to remain a Christian today. In public schools Christians like those in the Church I attended in my youth could pray in school, but they wanted it to be "official" and that's the real grievance. In a country with no official religion they wanted their Christianity to be the unofficial, official religion. The "Christianity" of the "fathers" of the United States, a slave holding, Native American slaughtering, greedy, arrogant Christianity. It is this Christianity that fueled enrollment into the private school I attended and it is this Christianity that is promoted by privileged people who want prayer before their Friday night football game, but who would never let that prayer be done by a rabbi, or an Imam, of (as we've seen recently) a representative of the Church of Satan. It has to be a Christian, and one of a certain sort, or we're going to complain we can't pray. Not being given a microphone for when you pray is not the same as being unable to pray.

Meanwhile, we committed injustices as a community (Napa, CA) to those migrating from Latin America to do our dirty work. Our Church had "Spanish outreach" which usually meant saving their Catholic souls from hell to join our Pentecostal heaven. We rarely considered their needs as humans. We had no interest in making their time in the United States comfortable because we wanted them to work and "go home". Yet, we wanted the God revealed in Christ to hear our prayers, especially those for our nation. Our theology was perverse.