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Prayer in Secular Preschool. WWYD? UPDATE #27 - Page 3

post #41 of 64
In the non-Christian preschool I worked in, the kids said, "Thank you for our food, our friends, and our family." before every meal.

In the Christian preschool, we sang to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, "Let us thank Him for our food, for our friends, and for our school. Amen."
post #42 of 64
Moving to Learning at School

If it is the teacher saying it, totally not acceptable and I would definitely address it.
post #43 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_lissa View Post
I saw what you wrote and ITA.
Thanks... I'll put it back and see if I catch any heat. :

--what I edited out---
I think what alarms me is that their prayers are Christian prayers. This is a secular school, yet the prayer that they are choosing is specifically of a particular religion. This is something that is hard for me to articulate because I fear offending someone or not getting my point across.

In a nutshell, outside of Christianity, America has a very low tolerance for other religions/beliefs/faiths. On the surface it appears that we do, but there are deep-seated beliefs that have been instilled in us from a young age and part of the reinforcement is in these seemingly innocuous situations. We think, "Oh, it's not really doing any harm. Need to expose our kids to all sorts of things." but how often are our kids exposed to Islamic rites? Or Jewish beliefs? The answer is never. And so we go along, like sheep to the slaughter, believing that our kids are okay in these situations. Our kids DO NOT get exposed to all the religions of the world. This kind of exposure has a profound effect on our kids, especially in light of the fact that they get exposure to no other religion.

I think that what this school is doing is wrong. Not because it is illegal according to the Constitution of the United States but because it is morally wrong to influence someone else's child in matters so sacred as one's spiritual beliefs. In fact, being raised pentecostal and having a reverence for all spiritual beliefs, I would be absolutely beside myself to find out that someone outside of my household was trying to influence my child in any spiritual matters. Moreover, even *I* don't feel that it's my right to influence my child in her spiritual journey. That's between her and whomever she decides is "God", "Goddess", "Nature", or whatever she wants to commune with.
post #44 of 64
Is it really specifically Christian to refer to "God"? I agree that it's not all-inclusive but don't other religions use that name besides Christianity?
post #45 of 64
Thread Starter 
I agree that if we're teaching one religion, we need to teach all religions. Since that would be nearly impossible unless one was doing nothing but religious studies, it would probably be best to have a policy of NO religion at all in preschool unless it was church affliated and clearly stated as such.
post #46 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by famousmockngbrd View Post
Is it really specifically Christian to refer to "God"? I agree that it's not all-inclusive but don't other religions use that name besides Christianity?
Judaism refers to God. I'm sure there are others as well.
post #47 of 64
That's what I thought.
post #48 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Thanks... I'll put it back and see if I catch any heat. :

--what I edited out---
I think what alarms me is that their prayers are Christian prayers. This is a secular school, yet the prayer that they are choosing is specifically of a particular religion. This is something that is hard for me to articulate because I fear offending someone or not getting my point across.

In a nutshell, outside of Christianity, America has a very low tolerance for other religions/beliefs/faiths. On the surface it appears that we do, but there are deep-seated beliefs that have been instilled in us from a young age and part of the reinforcement is in these seemingly innocuous situations. We think, "Oh, it's not really doing any harm. Need to expose our kids to all sorts of things." but how often are our kids exposed to Islamic rites? Or Jewish beliefs? The answer is never. And so we go along, like sheep to the slaughter, believing that our kids are okay in these situations. Our kids DO NOT get exposed to all the religions of the world. This kind of exposure has a profound effect on our kids, especially in light of the fact that they get exposure to no other religion.

I think that what this school is doing is wrong. Not because it is illegal according to the Constitution of the United States but because it is morally wrong to influence someone else's child in matters so sacred as one's spiritual beliefs. In fact, being raised pentecostal and having a reverence for all spiritual beliefs, I would be absolutely beside myself to find out that someone outside of my household was trying to influence my child in any spiritual matters. Moreover, even *I* don't feel that it's my right to influence my child in her spiritual journey. That's between her and whomever she decides is "God", "Goddess", "Nature", or whatever she wants to commune with.
Not everything that needs to be said is always pleasant. Sometimes the truth bites. Yhank you for writing that. Well put.
post #49 of 64
The original version of the prayer, that my dd recites at her dad's house, is:

God is great and God is good and we thank him for our food. By His hand all must be fed. We thank the Lord for our daily bread. Amen.
post #50 of 64
I'm sorry you are dealing with this. I'd not have a problem with it if the teacher was praying in a low voice over her own meal and your dd overheard and picked it up. But the teacher leading the whole class in prayer without the parents being informed of this in advance.
post #51 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by earthmama369 View Post
So . . . the preschool has a policy of instituting prayer and they say kids can opt out, but they didn't inform you of their prayer practices ahead of time to allow you to make an informed and timely decision?

Hmm.
My thoughts exactly!
post #52 of 64
Ummm... .wow! I think I'd be pulling my DD from that preschool if at all possible. I hate the "opting out" option b/c it really makes your DD stand out, and she isn't able to really understand why, KWIM? I remember the JW kids in class that couldn't say the pledge or eat birthday cupcakes and while I am not bashing JWs, I will say that I always felt sorry for those kids not getting to eat cupcakes! Other kids don't understand WHY your DD would not be participating and it would only make it awkward for her. Religion is something that is very personal to me (atheist, ha ha!) and I do not want ANYONE telling my DDs anything even remotely religious at that age. My older one is 4 and I still think she is too young to understand. I think this is an underhanded way of teaching religion and I think the school should be called on it. I'd write a withdrawl letter stating your reason for pulling your DD and how this policy is not "secular" in any way. It's underhandedly teaching a diety is responsible for our food to have them recite such a poem. I also agree w/ what velochic said
post #53 of 64
I'm Christian, we're raising our daughter as such. I wouldn't be upset about the prayer but I would be upset that they were not upfront about it.

"God" can be an inclusive term - it does not have to define a Christian God who created the world and gave everything breath, etc. Just because someone says they believe in God does not mean they believe in God as I know Him. I don't think there's anything specifically Christian about the way they are using the word God in that prayer.

Now since it is a non-religious school, I think it would be better for them to let kids know they have the right to say a meal time prayer if they would like to. I think that is easier for kids than to opt out of something the whole group has already been taught to do.

Jenn
post #54 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jessy1019 View Post
I would be furious, as an atheist, and I would talk to the teacher right away.

The charter school we're planning to send the kids to says a "thank you to the earth" kind of thing before eating, but it's not at all religious and it goes with the core curriculum which involves a huge focus on environmentalism.

A thank you to the earth prayer very much conflicts with my religious beliefs. The school should not be teaching that either. Not saying you should raise a fuss, since it apparently doesn't conflict with your beliefs.

I'd be happy about the Christian prayer, as I am a Christian, but at the same time,. I can understand not everyone agrees on that.
post #55 of 64
God implies Judeo-Christian, yes. Muslims address Allah, Buddhists address Lord Buddha, Hindus address their Gods/Goddesses by name, as do pagans/wiccans in addressing the elements.

Yes, the the term "God" has an implicit meaning of Christian God in the US by virtue of the fact that it is the religion that is shoved down our throats from an early age. I mean, even in Judaism, you don't say "God is good, God is great. Thank you for our food." You're going to say a prayer in the pure language of Hebrew, so it's going to be Jehovah.
post #56 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by lindberg99 View Post
I'd be annoyed too. To put it in another persepctive, think how many people would be complaining if the teacher did some kind of Pagan or Buddhist blessing.
My daughter goes to a secular nursery school, and I was surprised to discover that they sing a grace before lunch that goes:

Oh, the earth is good to me
And so I thank the earth
For giving me the things I need
The sun and the rain and the apple seed
The earth is good to me.

I don't have a theological problem with this at all (we're Unitarian-Universalists), but when I heard it I wondered how devout Christians feel about their kids learning a prayer that some might consider to be tinged with earth-based spirituality.

I wouldn't be happy about my daughter coming home from nursery school saying "God is great, God is good, and we thank him..." It's pushing the specific theological positions that (1) there is a god, (2) there's only one god and/or we should only acknowledge one god, and (3) god is male. Our religion leaves those questions up to the individual to explore and decide about, so I don't want anyone to teach her those concepts as unquestioned facts.

If I were in your position, and I liked everything else about the school, I would come up with some *truly* secular graces, and ask that one of them be substituted for the religious grace. A good one for preschoolers might be:

For health and strength and daily food
Let us share our gratitude.

There have been some other suggestions in the thread.
post #57 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivka5 View Post

Oh, the earth is good to me
And so I thank the earth
For giving me the things I need
The sun and the rain and the apple seed
The earth is good to me.
.
This isn't genrally called a prayer. It's a verse and it's used in some Waldorf schools.
post #58 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by moondiapers View Post
This isn't genrally called a prayer. It's a verse and it's used in some Waldorf schools.
It's the "Johnny Appleseed grace" (http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/misc...seed_grace.htm) with the word "earth" directly substituted for the word "Lord." To me, that's still a prayer, and I could see Christians who were familiar with the original being uncomfortable about the substitution seeming to equate "the earth" with "the Lord."
post #59 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rivka5 View Post

Oh, the earth is good to me
And so I thank the earth
For giving me the things I need
The sun and the rain and the apple seed
The earth is good to me.
.
This actually is an altered version of the Johnny Appleseed song. Substitute lord for earth and that is how it goes. As a pagan I wouldn't necessarily have a beef with the earth based version, but I am still scratching my head as to why these schools and teachers think they have the need or right to engage in this kind of activity?!?!?!?!? It's not really their job to teach spirituality or gratitude or thankfulness. These are skills that should be taught at home, by the parents , in a way that the parents believe is appropriate. I just don't get why this is even taking place at all.
post #60 of 64
subbing.

i've been following this thread just cause i was interested, but now something has happened similarly in my life that i don't know what to do about!! can i piggyback on your thread, OP?

my up-till-now homeschooled son is attending school for the first time this year. he's 6, in 1st grade. i registered him like 10 minutes till the end of the day, the day before school started

anyway, i put him in one of the magnet schools, and i pulled strings to get him into the class with a male teacher (he's fatherless and has no male influence; i thought this would be a good idea). he started last wednesday.

the teacher uses a guitar and singing as part of his day, every day, and he's really into repetition, not just with the guitar. yesterday, ds comes home singing some song with God in it.

now-- this is a public school! and, we are Pagan-- not that it matters. but like a PP said, it's implying that there is a god, that there's only one, and that he's male-- in a public school.

i'm thinking that this guy probably doesn't think anything about it; that the song is just a cute little ditty. which it is. i was appalled when ds came home singing it. i said something along the lines of "that is NOT ok; religion doesn't belong in school!" to which ds said "i wasn't even thinking about it till you said something, mama, and don't worry, i'm not going to become a Christian anyway"
to which i said "honey-- it's not about it being a Christian song. i'd be upset if they sang Pagan songs. it's a *school*, not a church, and it's no place to be singing about *any* gods".

i want to nicely and conversationally say something to this guy, but i'm coming up blank.

something along the lines of "um...ds came home singing a god song. with all due respect, i prefer to teach ds about religion myself, as it's a highly personal issue, please keep school to schooly things"

but how to do that respecfully? should i write him a note? he seems to like parents to communicate with him via notes in the homework packet.

what do y'all think?

pamela
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