Friday, January 16, 2009

Forced to Pray in School

Q: My parents send me to Catholic school, even though I don’t believe. The school forces everyone to pray and I don’t like it. I got detention on the first day of school for refusing to pray. Is this fair?

A: Unfortunately, life is not always fair. Did you deserve a detention strictly for not praying? Probably not, but you did not get a detention just for not praying – you got a detention for not following school policy. Most of the time, teachers and principals don’t take too kindly to students blatantly refusing to follow the rules or do what they are told. However, if you feel unjustly forced into professing something you don’t think you believe, then try this tomorrow during prayer: take a moment of silence. I spent two years working on a staff of religiously diverse individuals, from the most devout Catholics and Protestants, to the most adamant atheist I have ever met. Before each of our weekly meetings, we spent a moment in silence for reflection. Some of us prayed, others collected their thoughts, and we all used it as a moment to slow down and step away from our busy lives. A moment of silence is respectful both of those around you, who believe the prayers being said, as well as of you and your own personal beliefs. So tomorrow, when it comes time to pray, close your eyes and take the time to silently reflect on whatever you happen to be thinking. It also might be a good idea to mention to your teacher what you would like to do beforehand, so he or she doesn’t take it as silent insubordination!

Maureen D.