A good portion of believers say things like “God has been removed from schools” or “bring back prayer in schools.” I work in the schools and disagree with these statements, but my purpose here is not to say God and prayer are present, which they are, but to question the thinking behind such statements. They contradict what we believers say are the very characteristics of God and prayer.
Even as a child, I was taught that God is omnipotent or able to be in all places at the same time. To hear the rantings of the masses (especially on social media), you’d think their “god” was a little statue man easily placed in a suitcase and transported into and out of our institutions.
If these statements mean the “influence of God” instead of the being, or presence, of our Creator, then I’m still confused. Who does God use to influence things around here? Raised in a conservative Christian church, I was taught that humans are the ones responsible for “doing” the good work or praying the prayer. I think the following quote says it well.
Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. ~ Teresa of Avila
Maybe this ranting for God and prayer to be returned to our institutions is a form of laziness and entitlement. That should offend a few folks! There seems to be a willingness on the part of many believers to think our institutions should be “evangelistic Christian” in their orientation (other branches of religion might also be included here).
While I do think the moral precepts of Christianity can have a positive influence on institutions, that influence should come supportively from believers, not from rules and forced compliance to organized prayer or the public declarations of God’s existence and superiority.
God doesn’t need our help in this way and public proclamations or forced compliance isn’t very effective anyway (history is filled with examples). But, complaining is easier than spending time in prayer or working (paid or volunteer) to have a positive influence on institutions and society.
Fighting over religion in our institutions is a waste of time and energy, and a distraction, but the saddest part is that it distorts those qualities that are most appealing in religions (in this case, Christianity). Christians are no longer seen as being supportive of children regardless of their socio-economic situation. Christians have gained a sometimes well-earned reputation for being hateful and resentful.
Many churches are no longer seen as modeling mercy, kindness, and ministry to others, but just another institution seeking political power and dominance. The members are seen as angry folks, constantly complaining because their religion is not effective and is losing predominance in today’s society.
Maybe a more constructive (and difficult) path would be to focus on reviewing and living the precepts we claim to believe through actions (good works) and not just words.