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A Texas district called for 22 days of prayer to launch the new school year
An atheist group called on the Burnet CISD to "cease promoting prayer and remove this post"
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Earlier this week, the Burnet Consolidated Independent School District in Texas posted an official call for prayer leading up to the new school year.
Their image was even titled “Pray to the First Day,” with each of the next 22 days dedicated to a different school or group of adults, with the students themselves saved until the very end.
Needless to say, a public school district has no business telling people to pray, even if it doesn’t go into detail regarding which religion or what to say.
On Thursday, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the district urging officials to “cease promoting prayer and remove this post from its official social media.” Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow Samantha Lawrence wrote:
The District serves a diverse community that consists of not only religious students, families, and employees, but also atheists, agnostics, and those who are simply religiously unaffiliated. By promoting prayer, the District sends an official message that excludes all nonreligious District students and community members. Thirty-seven percent of the American population is non-Christian, including the almost 30 percent who are nonreligious. At least a third of Generation Z (those born after 1996) have no religion, with a recent survey revealing almost half of Gen Z qualify as “nones” (religiously unaffiliated).
This wasn’t a lawsuit. It wasn’t a threat. It was a reminder that calls for prayer shut out every member of the community who isn’t religious. And let’s be honest: The implication is that these are Christian prayers, so non-Christians are excluded too.
If a church in the area wants to waste its time praying for a better school year, that’s their business. But it sure as hell shouldn’t be something district officials call for.
The good news is that the Burnet CISD has already relented. In an email to FFRF sent less than 90 minutes after the initial letter went out, Superintendent Keith McBurnett wrote, “The Facebook post referenced has been removed, and the District will refrain from posting anything similar in the future.”
Problem solved… unless people notice and complain, in which case it’ll be interesting to see how district officials respond.
In any case, if the people in the community actually want to make a difference, then they should demand the Republican-dominated state legislature give educators raises to keep them in the profession and reverse a statewide teacher shortage, stop banning books that challenge students’ minds, end the assault on LGBTQ students, and do more to prevent gun violence instead of putting more armed guards in schools.
They won’t. Instead, they’re just praying (for nothing in particular in most cases) while voting to make schools worse. 78% of the county voted to re-elect Republican Greg Abbott as governor in 2022. Other Republicans on the ballot won by similar margins.
The end result is that students will continue to struggle because most of the adults in their lives have no clue how to fix the problems they’ve created.
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