Letter: Prayer in public schools won't eliminate bullying

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Surely Julie McDonald-Smith doesn’t actually believe that imposing Christian prayer and Bible study on public school children would in some way make them feel more cared for or like they belong and are welcome here (“The Right View: In age of school bullying, heaven help us”). If she had suggested, say, a few moments of silence for introspection, soul-searching, spiritual growth or moral questioning, maybe something good could come of it, as it would not exclude anyone, and might actually build bridges between students. But since she mentions, as fodder for her argument, that 77 percent of Americans identify as Christian, this is clearly not what she has in mind. Does she not realize that Jews, Muslims, atheists, Buddhists, Bahais, Hindus, etc., all hold their beliefs just as preciously and validly as Christians hold theirs?

Could anything send a clearer message of worthlessness and insignificance to all of us who are not Christian than a public institution imposing a religious practice that has nothing to do with us? Could anything say, more clearly, that you who are not Christian do not matter to us, that your world view is unimportant to us?

Want to prevent bullying? Try making us all feel included. Highlight what common ground we share. Make us all feel valued exactly as we are. What a tiny, insular world view McDonald-Smith must have. I am grateful that other, wiser minds have built a sturdy wall between church and state. Nothing else could allow each of us to believe, unimpeded, exactly what we choose.

Nancy O’Hagan
Portland

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