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11 "What about prayer in schools? If there's no God, why do you care if people pray?" (An Introduction to Atheism)




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This article is from the Atheism FAQ, by mathew meta@pobox.com with numerous contributions by others.

11 "What about prayer in schools? If there's no God, why do you care if people pray?" (An Introduction to Atheism)

Because people who do pray are voters and lawmakers, and tend to do
things that those who don't pray can't just ignore. Also, Christian
prayer in schools is intimidating to non-Christians, even if they are
told that they need not join in. It is particularly bad if the prayer
is led by a teacher, or otherwise officially endorsed.

The diversity of religious and non-religious belief means that it is
impossible to formulate a meaningful prayer that will be acceptable to
all those present at any public event.

This is one reason why the public school system in the USA is not
permitted to endorse particular religious beliefs through official
prayer time in schools. Children are, of course, quite free to pray as
they wish in their free time; there is no question of trying to
prevent prayer from happening in schools.

"You mentioned Christians who campaign for increased foreign aid. What
about atheists? Why aren't there any atheist charities or hospitals?
Don't atheists object to the religious charities?"

There are many charities without religious purpose that atheists can
contribute to. Some atheists contribute to religious charities as
well, for the sake of the practical good they do. Some atheists even
do voluntary work for charities founded on a theistic basis.

Most atheists seem to feel that atheism isn't worth shouting about in
connection with charity. To them, atheism is just a simple, obvious
everyday matter, and so is charity. Many feel that it's somewhat
cheap, not to say self-righteous, to use simple charity as an excuse
to plug a particular set of religious beliefs.

To "weak" atheists, building a hospital to say "I do not believe in
God" is a rather strange idea; it's rather like holding a party to say
"Today is not my birthday". Why the fuss? Atheism is rarely
evangelistic.

 

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previous page: 10 "But if you don't allow religion to have a say in the running of the state, surely that's the same as state atheism?"
  
page up: Atheism FAQ
  
next page: 12 "You said atheism isn't anti-religious. But is it perhaps a backlash against one's upbringing, a way of rebelling?"