A reader writes:
As a defense of the Fundie Atheists you described yesterday, you have to understand where they are coming from. I went to a school where each day began with the innocuous statement "let us pause for a moment of silence" over the loudspeaker. The only reason that this statement was read was that courts had already barred the school from saying "let us pause for a moment of prayer." Students interpreted the statement the way the legislature intended it - as a way to have a moment of group prayer without calling it prayer.
I've learned to have a thicker skin as an adult atheist, and things like "under God" in the pledge, God Bless America during every baseball game or the moment of silence in schools don't even register with me. But a nonreligious parent who has a kid singled out in a room of bowed heads each morning? I can see why he would take action. It wasn't fun for me throughout school and I can imagine it's not fun for his daughter now. I have mutual respect for any religious expression that people want to undertake, but singling out kids with a mandated, school-endorsed moment of prayer isn't part of that.
Look: I'm a defender of the rights of atheists. And I'm passionate about secularism. But I don't think these public displays of milque-toast religiosity are that big a deal. I grew up in a country with an established church and as part of my government-funded education, I attended Anglican morning services on a daily basis. I handled it. In fact, I'm sure it helped my Catholicism to endure. And I'm not a little grateful that it introduced me to the Book Of Common Prayer. A little coexistence with the majority is not going to kill anyone. Chill.
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