You Got Your Gay Marriage Debate in My Prayer in School Debate

This video has been making the rounds, so chances are you’ve seen it, no matter where you stand on the issue of gay marriage (whether you’re for it or wrong).

I don’t want to focus on that aspect of this video too much, though, because I’ve already written extensively on this topic.

I will say that Michele Bachmann’s counterargument is one that I’ve come across in debates, and I’m absolutely shocked that something so inane and intentionally daft has taken hold for the anti-Gay conservative movement.  Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked.

The argument is that homosexuals aren’t being denied any rights, because they still have the right to marry.  Someone of the opposite sex.  That’s right, the Conservative Christian movement is actually extolling the virtues of loveless marriages of convenience.  I guess their point is, ‘If we can do it, you can too.’

Of course, this is largely the same group that has told gay teenagers that they should just bury their urges and join the priesthood.  That’s worked like gangbusters.

But, let’s take this argument at its face value.  At its root, it claims that as long as everyone has the exact same right, no one should be able to complain.  It’s a mirror universe version of ‘Separate, But Equal’, but beyond that, it’s pretty easy to poke a hole in.

(Here I will present two hypotheticals.  Some will argue that because these aren’t perfect analogies, they don’t count.  I disagree, but there we are.)

What if the government, in order to help our economy, declared that you were no longer permitted to own anything but American-made cars?  Every individual still has the equal right to own a car, it just isn’t necessarily the one you want.  For some people, this new law wouldn’t change their lives one iota.  Got to love that freedom.  Tastes like… victory.

Or, in what is a slightly more conceivable version of this hypothetical, imagine the Obama administration in its 2nd term (yeah, it’s gonna happen as long as this is the best the Republicans can put forward) pushes forth legislation to make the purchase of Hybrids completely tax deductible, while simultaneously raising taxes on the purchase of traditional gas guzzling SUVs and the like.  The new law affects everyone equally and it doesn’t even encroach on anyone’s rights.  You can still buy any car you want, you just might not enjoy the benefits that your fellow Americans enjoy.

You bet your ass, though, people and businesses would be up in arms.  They’d argue that government shouldn’t be in the business of affecting commerce.  M’haps.

I say the government shouldn’t be in the business of defining ‘marriage’ by societal norms.  Marriage in the government’s eyes is nothing more than a social/business contract, and if two consenting adults wish to enter it, the government need only provide the rubber stamp.

Freedom isn’t freedom if you still have to live in the boundaries of another person’s beliefs.  Keep in mind, we’re talking about consensual relationships, not rape and murder.

I said I wasn’t going to talk about this topic much, but there I went off anyway.  It’s hard to contain myself.

On to my real reason for writing this post:

Prayer In School

Over and over again, The Goddamn Bachmann keeps uttering the absolutely baseless ‘fact’ that Christian children aren’t allowed to pray in public schools.  Really?  What schools has she been to?

I went to public school and attended Bible study on school grounds, as well as events like the perennial See You at the Pole at which Christian students gather around a flag pole on school grounds and pray for the year, the school and the country.

Never once was I told I couldn’t participate in such things.  Never once was my freedom to pray on government property ever hampered.

There’s the old joke, ‘As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.’  It’s a simplistic notion, but it actually gets to a much deeper point:  Prayer is personal, it’s an action that anyone can do at anytime and no individual or law will ever prevent that.  If the Holy Martyrs of your faith were able to pray before and during their executions, I think your bratty kids can pray whenever they damn feel like it.

Jesus said this:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Granted, there are other verses in the Bible that speak positively of praying in public spaces, but this is Jesus.  Jesus!  The guy you supposedly worship (but who are we kidding).

What The Goddamn Bachmann is really griping about is that government officials (or ‘teachers’ as they’re commonly known) are no longer allowed to publicly lead students in prayer.  This restriction isn’t on children (as The Goddamn Bachmann erroneously states), but on teachers who are paid by tax dollars and thus cannot in any way endorse a specific religion.

Even as I type that out, it seems so blazingly obvious to me that I can’t believe in the year 2011 we are still having this discussion.  But then people like The Goddamn Bachmann go out in public and say this stupid shit and people in her audience clap.  Presumably they’re applauding her surprising success, as in, “Congrats, you have no education and no understanding of history or government, but you’ve still gotten so far!  Way to go!”  You know, the same way you’d applaud at the Special Olympics.

I do understand that if you really wanted to look, you could find legitimate cases of a Christian’s rights being restricted somewhere in the US.  (My guess is there is an intern at Fox News whose entire job is looking for such stories).  Just as easily, you can find examples of an Atheist having his or her rights ignored.  We live in a society where our pursuit of personal freedom sometimes impedes on someone else’s freedoms.  This is the push and pull of living among other people.

This tends to lead to a kind of pendulum of overreaction, where trying to right one wrong leads to an equal wrong in the opposite direction.  So, after winning the freedom from religious oppression by having teacher-led prayer taken out of classrooms, an overzealous secularist might try to take it even further and try to prevent a See You at the Pole rally (undoubtedly, this has happened somewhere).  That would be an overreaction and Christian’s would have a right to fight back (I would side with them).

But Christians have their own arch of the overreaction pendulum and, in a seeming contradiction to everything science has taught us, this pendulum appears to be a perpetual motion machine, constantly swinging back and forth, never finding the happy medium.

In my mind, it’s all about picking your battles.  If you’re an atheist, fight for your and your children’s right to be free of forced prayer, but maybe don’t get so worked up about ‘In God We Trust’ being on the dollar bill (honestly, who even uses cash anymore?).  And if you’re a Christian, fight for your right to hold Bible studies in areas open to the public, but please don’t get so friggin’ apeshit everytime Obama doesn’t mention ‘God’ or a governor doesn’t write ‘Christmas.’

Pray wherever you want, just leave me the freedom not to.

And would someone please shut up The Goddamn Bachmann.