Atlanta Church violates schoolchildren's rights... repeatedly. After being told to stop.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- A parent’s complaint and action by Gwinnett County school officials has apparently not stopped volunteers at a church from asking students to pray before a test. A parent contacted Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh on Wednesday and said it happened to her son twice before he took an exam at a local church. Thursday a student told Kavanaugh it happened again, despite intervention by school officials.

Plagued with overcrowding problems, Parkview High School held placement testing at Mountain Park First Baptist. While there, students were repeatedly asked to pray.

"Well, it's a separation of church and state, and obviously we have a lot of students that may come from a lot of different religious backgrounds," said Gwinnett County school district spokeswoman Sloan Roach.

Yes. It is definitely an issue of church and state separation, but it is also a moral issue. These children are a captive audience, and some of them belong to other religions. If you are Christian, how would you feel if your child felt compelled by an authority figure to pray to Allah? It is simple human decency to leave religion out of places where any sort of coercion can occur.

"We never thought that would be an issue. We thought being able to help anybody particularly on a testing would be helpful to them,” said church pastor Richard King. King said his church and volunteers had only good intentions offering the testing space and the prayers.

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Comment by Jill Merrell on May 14, 2011 at 11:24pm
Really interesting video Loren. Thanks for posting!
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on May 14, 2011 at 10:38pm

It's a church that is pretending to help so that they can proselytize to kids. No it isn't the worst thing ever done to kids, but it's still wrong and it's clearly taking advantage. Duh.


If you think this is acceptable then I wonder what other religious proselytizing you think is acceptable. Why not just have kids pray in a public school, then, under a specific religion? And I suppose you think missionaries, who help kids in poor countries on the condition that they accept whatever religion they tell them, is admirable too?

Comment by Loren Miller on May 14, 2011 at 9:49pm
Oh, and as regards the whole "something from nothing" issue which seems to bother you so much, may I refer you to Dr. Lawrence Krauss, who has considered that issue deeply. His approach to a possible explanation isn't simple, and it's doubtful that the actual CAUSE of the Big Bang (or Big BANGS) will never be fully proven, but I find what he posits to be far more satisfying than asserting that the BB is the one and only effect without cause in the whole shootin' match:

Oh, and while I'm at it, maybe there are some imps in the works, manipulating the relationship between cause and effect, but in the absence of evidence, the Null Hypothesis and Occam's Razor tell me that a given cause gives rise to the corresponding effect with such monotonous regularity that I have trouble worrying about it.  Sure, anything is POSSIBLE ... but how PROBABLE are said imps?

Besides, how practical would it be if I had to test Ohm's Law before using it JUST TO BE SURE IT WORKED before I trusted it to find the open circuit which kept my customer's widget from working properly?
Comment by Loren Miller on May 14, 2011 at 9:05pm

There's an enormous difference, John, between the assumptions that science operates under and those of religion, most specifically that those that science operates with WORK, and they work virtually without exception.  They've been scrutinized and tested and run through the wringer of peer review and they continue to work with relentless reliability.  If there is a single assumption regarding the existence of a deity or of the efficacy of prayer or occurrence of miracles, I think not only that we would have heard about it by now, but that the newspapers and TV networks would be buzzing with the news.  As it is, there is no such data, nor do I anticipate any suchlike in the foreseeable future.


I'm no philosopher, John.  I'm an engineer and, as it happens, a troubleshooter, and as such, my approach to reality is largely pragmatic.  If it works, USE IT; if it don't, LOSE IT has been a saying of mine for as long as I can remember, and my living for the past 30 years has been very dependent on my understanding of the relationship between cause and effect, albeit limited to the field of electronics and occasionally mechanics, hydraulics and pneumatics.  If I treat causality as a given, it's because I have never ... NEVER ... seen an exception to that rule.  Those instances of what some field service personnel refer to as "FM" (F***ing Magic!) are generally a result of a failure to fully investigate a given situation.


If you can cite a case of effect without cause, I would say don't walk, RUN to James Randi.  His $1 million challenge for such phenomena has been withdrawn after some 30-odd years of being in place, but I'm sure no one would be more fascinated with such an occurrence than he would.


Oh, and BTW, I never told my daughter, "Religion BAD, don't touch!"  It was simply a non-entity in our day-to-day life.  She was simply raised WITHOUT it.  And as for atheism being a belief (this is about as philosophical as I get!), would the concept of atheism even exist if religions or the concept of a god didn't?  I do without religion and god because neither are operant to my life, nor do I see any benefit to either.


And that's the name of that tune.

Comment by John Camilli on May 14, 2011 at 8:20pm

You guys just assume religions are wrong, but you don't realize that science is based assumptions too. I know that statement is gonna open a can of worms, so listen closely: causality is an assumption. There is no way to prove that causes follow effects. We all assume it is true because intellectual progress seems impossible if we do not, but there simply is no proof. Reality could be popping into and out of existence in a totally random manner, and our little area here could just coincidentally be random in a way that seems causal. I know that all sounds ridiculous to you guys, but that's because you haven't taken the time to really think about it. Think about this:


If (note I said 'if') time is not eternal, existence had to somehow come into being, which would require an explanation of an uncaused event. If time IS eternal, then entropy would have already prevailed. The law of entropy is based on the fundamental assumption of science - causality. If you think about this very thoroughly, you may see that either the law of entropy is wrong OR it must be possible for things to happen uncaused, which would also draw causality into question. That these ideas have not been reconciled shows quite clearly that causality - and thus all human knowledge - is suspect. It is aaaaaaalllll assumptions, aaaaallll beliefs. You guys condemn theists for something that you do yourselves.

Comment by John Camilli on May 14, 2011 at 8:07pm

Michael, there simply is NO evidence for or against god. If you summed up all human knowledge, you could very easily say that all that knowledge fits in either framework (god or no god) the existence or non-existence of god does not invalidate any human progress, and none of that progress speaks for either argument.


If you told my kids about a pink unicorn, I would simply laugh and say it sounds silly to me, but believe what you want. I wouldn't try to control how they think about it. If they had questions, I would answer according to my own beliefs, but I would qualify that for them with the admission that my own ideas may be just as silly as yours about unicorns.


As for the seperation of church and state issue, you need to remember this school was holding tests in a church facility. Yes it was public school, but the church did not have to let them use their space, and it would be unconstitutional to say that just because a school has a crowding problem they are allowed to force theists into an uncomfortable position in their own place of gathering.


Lastly, you said this: "Most atheists I know are not trying to push their views on others (they are not trying to force the theists to their way of thinking), they are trying to stop other's views being pushed on them!" But don't you understand that try to stop someone else from expressing their ideas IS expressing yours? If you seek to deny them influence over you, you ARE excercising influence over them.

Comment by John Camilli on May 14, 2011 at 7:59pm
Several of you commented on my request for Gecko to disprove the existence of a god. I was asking this rhettorically. He asserted that god absolutely does not exist, and this statement is logically fallacious. It is impossible to know with certainty that god does or does not exist. I consider myself an atheist, but even I have to admit that atheism is a belief system. It cannot be proven, so to give it more credence than theism is just as closed-minded and dogmatic. That is my point. If you guys want to feel certain that no god exists, go ahead, but you are just as blind as a theist when you do so.
Comment by John Camilli on May 14, 2011 at 7:55pm

Loren, I am a product of a child being exposed to religion. I attended a catholic school until highschool, and I recovered quite nicely from what I now consider to be nonsense. If I had not been exposed to it then, perhaps I would have discovered religion when I was older, and had more of a fear of death. Maybe I would then be more willing to ignore the inconsistencies of religion because of the promises it makes. So, to me, it was a good thing that I was exposed to it as a child. I even believed it for a while, but it did me no harm, ultimately.


The idea that someone should not be exposed to religion until they are older is silly, and shows your clear preference for your own ideas. You think the ideas you gave her when she was young were "safe" and that religious ideas are "dangerous," but Loren ALL ideas can be dangerous, and all ideas can be beneficial, depending on their context and on the system that incorporates them. Atheism is a belief system, so you did expose your daughter to a belief system, even while you are condemning religions for being the same thing. And if you want to argue that atheism is not a belief system, look up pyrrohnism and you will see what it is to truly lack a belief system. If you don't want to bother, I will sum it up for you: it's impossible to make decisions without a belief system because humans can't have perfect knowledge; they can only ever have guesses as to how reality works.

Comment by Hambydammit on May 14, 2011 at 1:35pm
I thought this was supposed to be non-believers only. Why is there an argument about proving god in this thread?
Comment by Grace Fitzpatrick on May 14, 2011 at 8:31am

If this had been done at a Mormon Temple, a Jehovah Witness Kingdom Hall, a Buddhist Temple or a Scientology Hall, Christians (who are not Mormon or Jehovah Witness) would be screaming their bloody heads off about it.  But since it happened in a Baptist church and they like Baptists, then it's okay.  I have actually talked a few devout Christians over to my point of view on the topic of prayer and religion in the public schools.  The fact of the matter is, even if you are a person of faith, forcing kids to take a test in a church and having the members pray over them does violate separation and church and state.


The truth is that is not the public school's job to teach or expose kids to religion - regardless of what that religion is or what sect of what religion it is.  The teaching of religion or lack thereof is the job of parents.  The schools have a hard enough time addressing the three Rs let alone religion.  Say a person is a Catholic, they want their child raised in the Catholic faith - not Baptist, Methodist or Scientologist.   This gave preference to one sect of one religion over all the others.  Not even all Baptists agree.  As a person who has never had much to do with the Baptist Church, from the outside they seem very fragmented to me. 


Different churches have different ways of doing things and they don't necessarily agree with each other.  Sure, they all pretty much agree they hate us, but get them one on one and ask them how they feel about baptizing babies or praying to saints.  You"ll quickly find a lot of disagreements. 


People have a right to raise their children in the faith or lack of faith of their choice.  If they want their kids exposed to other ways of viewing religion, then that's their choice.  However, not all parents do want their kids exposed to other faiths or they would like that exposure to be under their supervision. 


It's not the job of the public school to tell children when to pray, how to pray or where to pray.  Maybe not everyone wants their child to pray like a Baptist.  Maybe they want their child to pray like a Hindu.  Sending kids to a Baptist church to take a test is in fact, telling children when to pray, how to pray, where to pray and who to pray to. 



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