School bans prayer: ‘This just sucks’, says pupil

School bans prayer: ‘This just sucks’, says pupil


THE SUPERINTENDENT of a high school in the town of Pima, Arizona, is at the centre of a controversy after deciding that that there will be no opening or closing prayers at this year graduation later in May.

Sean Rickert, pictured left, who made the decision explained:

 This is a step I take as an administrator to increase the district’s compliance with the law.

He elaborated, saying that Pima High could potentially be sued by allowing prayer at a graduation ceremony but added:

 Avoiding a lawsuit is not what is driving this. Our primary reason is to make sure we are not violating student’s rights.

But one student, Calleigh Summers, was:

Kind of upset because our class voted for prayer.

She added that the superintendent’s decision “sucked”.

It does not really make sense to me because we as a class wanted it, so I don’t see how it’s illegal for us to want a prayer.

Many parents are confused by the decision since they say prayers have been a tradition at Pima high graduations for decades.

Said Al Summers:

There’s been no one come forward and say I don’t want a prayer, in fact, it’s stirred up the opposite reaction it’s caused the community to be very close now.

There will be a school board meeting on Thursday night in Pima and the the board could override the superintendent’s decision. If that happens he said he doesn’t know what the next step would be.

50 responses to “School bans prayer: ‘This just sucks’, says pupil”

  1. TheAnonymousTeacher says:

    Good for Mr. Rickert. This kind of decision is the wisest that can be made. Confusion often times follows decisions of this magnitude, but it is excellent to see Superintendents standing up for the Separation of Church and State. Nobody is abolishing prayer at the event, but Mr. Rickert isn’t giving them a mic and a soapbox.

    Excellent decision on his part.

  2. lucy 1 says:

    Poor man. He is trying to do things right…doomed.

  3. jay says:

    This is categorized as a career changing move.

    Landscaping work is nice.

  4. barriejohn says:

    The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion to another … in the words of Jefferson, the [First Amendment] clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State’ … That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.

    Justice Hugo Black (1886-1971)

    Maybe the students would like to vote in favour of a different constitution in support of their rights.

  5. L.Long says:

    But they must have school sponsored prayer!! How else will they spot those evil atheists hiding out in school?

  6. AgentCormac says:

    Stoopid students – don’t they know voting never changes anything? Perhaps Superintendent Rickert should show some of his more religiously inclined charges the video contained in the following news article. It’s being hailed as ‘the most complete visual simulation of how the Universe evolved’.

  7. charlie says:

    I don’t get these students. What do they need to pray to doG for any way? As for me, I’d rather honor cat. dogs are A-OK by me, but I do prefer cats to dogs given a choice. Yeah, I am a cat person, but I like nearly all animals, in their place. Yep, even snakes, as long as they are not in my home, if one crosses my yard, I let it go. If it starts to set up its own house in my yard, I get help to have it removed. Who am I to kill a snake that is causing me no harm? Oh crap! Now I see that I have exposed my self as an out and out Satanist because I don’t run around killing every snake I can find. And here, all along I was trying to pass myself off as a plain old garden variety heathen. Well, I guess I let the old cat out of the bag, or closet as it were, with my comment here.
    OK, question for you folks. Can a heathen be a Satanist as well as a heathen? Are they too dis-similar or are they basically the same? Not that it really matters what I get called.
    By the way, and very off topic; Dad used to say he didn’t care what people called him as long as it wasn’t late for dinner. Well, after my time in the USMC and Vietnam, I have been called everything under the sun including late for dinner more than once. Sorry Dad, I got the “better” of you for once………….LOL. Dad died the very Saturday after “saint” Ronnie of Ray-gun was elected as our “acting” president in November 1980. Dad despised Ronnie to hell and gone.
    Sorry for the off topic excursion.

  8. Broga says:

    I suppose for some students the decision “sucks” as they want to stay within the comfortable, uncritical, unthinking framework. What they might more appropriately apply their brains to is why they are praying and what reason they have that their God exists. Time to grow up.

  9. Lucy1 says:

    @charlie. I think satanists are a specific group within heathens. So all satanists are heathens but not all heathens are satanists. Atheists are the lowest form of heathen, I expect.

    @barriejohn. Trouble is, the wall has been breached. One nation ‘under god’ , in god we trust, and swearing on the bible at inauguration. More power to anyone who tries to get the wall rebuilt.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Lucy: I don’t get it, either. They’ve had prayers at sports venues for years, and STILL have a “Presidential Prayer Breakfast” every year. Billy Graham used to turn up regularly, as one can imagine!

    “It says something about us that every year, in times of triumph and in tragedy, in calm and in crisis, we come together, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as brothers and sisters, and as children of God,” Obama said during last year’s event.

    Yuk – enough to turn the stomach!

  11. barriejohn says:

    More on last year’s “Prayer Breakfast”:

    Oh, America!

  12. Bubba T Flubba says:

    Good man. More like him need to come out and stand up for what is the truth. There is no god and prayer is a pathetic,lazy and cheap way of avoiding responsibility.

  13. barriejohn says:

    This is for “kids”:

    The Lord explained, “If your love, faith and wisdom had won the game you would think you had done it by yourself. Love, faith and wisdom will get you on base, but only My grace can get you home. My grace is the one thing Satan cannot stop!!!!

  14. barriejohn says:

    This is from the Washington Post:

    I agree with Lucy – more strength to Rickert’s arm, but he’s going to have a fight on his hands!

  15. Student says:

    You Decision sucked there is no law that says that in fact ther is a law that says this Schools can only prohibit protected speech by students when it “materially and substantially interfere[s] with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school.”

  16. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    @Student: I think a little more study, specifically in punctuation, may be required.

  17. Matt Westwood says:

    The word “heathen” derives from “people of the heath”, same as “pagan” is “people of the countryside”, means the same as “peasant”.

    The word evokes the attitude of civilised city folk who worship the civilised, urban Lord Jesus Christ, not those nasty unwashed native-to-Britain gods, which we are told are actually devils and in league with Satan.

    Who is Satan anyway? Just Saturn, under another name. To some, the god of wisdom, knowledge and science, also known as Lucifer, the Light-Bringer. Therefore, Satanists are actually good old rationalist scientists, persecuted by the xtians for their rejection of woo.

  18. barriejohn says:

    Student: We are not talking about “protected speech by students” here. Are you mad? Students are still free to pray whenever they want, just as sports players can pray about their performances if they want to. It is PUBLIC prayer which is the matter of concern, and it should be completely out of the question for anyone in the USA to be obliged to participate in any religious ritual whatsoever.

  19. Trevor Blake says:

    The students voted for a prayer. A Christian prayer? Which demonimation? A Jewish prayer? Muslim? Hindu? Shinto? Mithraic? To play it safe better set aside 72 or more hours to make sure nobody’s feelings get hurt and pray pray pray to everybody and everything.

    If I could vote to ignore a law, it would be a different law than the law against state sponsored magic spells.

  20. Robster says:

    If the school wants to get serial about this, the kiosk could serve up red wine and crackers with the hotdogs and they could have a wee communion thingy before the game. The tasty jesus crackers and a slurp of wine could add necessary calories to improve energy on field and the outcome. No prayer needed, just an absurd and rather nasty and inhuman ritual.

  21. barriejohn says:

    This recent judgment shows the mountain that he has to climb here:

    “Ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”

    Well, never mind what the constitution says then. That’s the sort of meaningless mumbo-jumbo that we expect from our prating prelates over here, with an admission that prayer is just meaningless words uttered for “ceremonial” purposes. What bollocks! Do the chaplains agree with that? Why are American readers not commenting on this issue? I would be incandescent with rage if it were me.

    PS What a joke to suggest that atheists are “welcome to give the opening prayer”. Any suggestions my friends? Bowdlerized copy of the American Constitution for the best submission!

  22. andym says:

    Very worrying , Barrie. And that included the comments underneath the article.But I suppose it is the Torygraph we’re speaking of-owned by two Catholic fanatics. Like attracting like.

    I think arguing that atheists could lead prayers is one of the most disingenuous arguments I’ve ever heard.

  23. barriejohn says:

    @andym: Agreed. One of them, like “Student” above, even alleges that opposing this decision would be “prohibiting the free exercise (of religion)” in the USA. It just shows what we’re up against. On another site a rationalist points out what a furore there would be if Muslim prayers were offered in public in America, only to be shot down in flames by the “reasonable” Christian commenters. Someone else then suggests that they haven’t read very widely on the subject. It is heretical for Muslims to engage in Christian prayer, which acknowledges Jesus as the divine son of god, and vice versa. When I was a member of the Brethren certain hymns were taboo, and others sung with missing verses, all over differences in theology. It’s a minefield. State and religion need to be strictly separated for the benefit of all.

  24. sailor1031 says:

    Unfortunately, as Barriejohn points out, the Greece vs Galloway decision of the SCOTUS essentially means that if government has been violating the law long enough for that violation to be a “tradition” then nothing can be done to prevent it from continuing. Interesting concept; not what one would expect from a group of sober, learned lawyers. Rather it is what one would expect from a gang of unprincipled, unscrupulous idealogues possessed of no respect whatsoever for the rule and practice of law.
    One wonders if this same principle will carry over into the criminal law. Oh sorry – for the banksters it already has!

  25. barriejohn says:

    Sailor: Correct. The judges were split 5-4 on the issue, which tells you immediately that they voted along ideological lines!

  26. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: An excellent antidote to any remaining hope that USA politicians give a toss about either religion or the Constitution is in “The Dark Side of Camelot” by Seymour Hersh. The criminal corruption engaged in the pursuit of power goes far beyond what the voter would ever countenance in their own lives.

    I suspect the UK may be on the same route and already politicians are hiring USA type spin doctors i.e. highly paid liars. At the heart of a toxic mix, brewed up with a shameless attitude that the politicians are exempt from the mores that apply to the rest of us, is religion.

  27. barriejohn says:

    Broga: I heard in a documentary once that Lyndon Johnson, J Edgar Hoover and Jack Kennedy at one time all lived within sight of one another, and that each had enough dirt on the other two (whom they pathologically hated) to keep himself safe (sort of Mutually Assured Destruction). Whether that is true or not I can’t be sure, but it sounds feasible!

  28. andym says:

    barrie. Possible, as JFK was a serial womaniser, and Hoover was a hypocritical transvestite. I don’t know too much about LBJ.

    Nothing wrong with being a transvestite. It’s just the hypocrisy I object to.

  29. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Joe Kennedy was heavily involved with the Giancana, the Mafia Don,to enable the election to be stolen. The Kennedys’ promised the Vice Presidency to Symynton as they hated Lyndon Johnson. Johnson was friends with Hoover of the FBI who gave him enough information to blackmail Kennedy. During the night before announcing the Vice Presidency Kennedy met with Johnson. The following day, to the extreme distress of the Kennedys Johnson was declared Vice President.

    Joe Kennedy was a crook who seemed to be devoid of conscience. The Mafia expected Kennedy to lay off them, particularly Giancana, when they got Kennedy elected. Joe Kennedy was bitter that Jack and particularly Bobby pursued the Mafia. But the Mafia were furious. There were no morals in any of this. A mafia wife told Seymour Hersh “I used to think the election of the President depended on the majority vote. I realised that it depended on one bunch of crooks getting another bunch of crooks elected.

    The Kennedys were good Roman Catholics and Joe contributed generously to the RC Church.

  30. charlie says:

    US politics has been totally corrupt for decades. Nearly every “law” that congress passes, they exempt themselves from them. No member of congress has to follow the “laws” they pass that we common citizens of the US MUST obey. Hypocritical? Damn straight it IS. Voting has become a joke in the US. So many try to say “we” don’t vote in high percentages of eligible voters due to apathy, bullshit, we know our votes are basically meaningless. Maybe, and even this is a huge maybe, at the local level, city council, etc. the votes may actually count, but I can’t promise this is true. Louisiana, where I have lived for 14 years now is very corrupt at nearly every level of politics. Fortunately, there are a number of common people, as in ordinary citizens, who are sick of this and working very hard to change this mess. I do all I can to support this effort, but it is a long and uphill fight.
    Look for the US to get ever more corrupt and dangerous. When empires die, they lash out at any and all who they perceive as being against them. The US IS an empire no matter how much the politicians here try to lie that it isn’t.
    Major polls of other countries show that more people around the globe see the US as THE biggest enemy of the people and civil rights, etc. THAT should be all any of us need to see who the real nasty clowns are. Of course organized religions just love empire for the power they think they get by association with the power of empire. May they ALL go down, hard. I just worry that many innocents will be hurt and killed as this nasty assed US empire falls, and it will fall, as every other empire through out history has fallen.
    Sorry for the long rant, but some things really get me going and this item just happened to be one of them.

  31. Matt Westwood says:

    @Charlie: Well said. I think you’re right, it’s going to get very nasty as the world revolution is nearly upon us. Many people are going to die — the hope is that enough of the rational humanist thinkers survive and the pointless, worthless squabblers and crooks perish without trace.

  32. AgentCormac says:

    Sorry to go OT again, but has anybody else caught up on today’s ‘supermarkets not labelling halal meat properly’ story? Apparently muslim and jewish ‘leaders’ are calling for all meat to be clearly labelled so their brain-dead followers can be sure to choose animals that were killed without being stunned but were, however, given a good send off by being prayed over as they were bled to death fully conscious.

    Personally, I too want all such meat to be clearly labelled – so I can make sure I never, ever buy it.

  33. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: Halal meat and Muslim and Jewish leaders. There is something truly foul about these leaders. Imagine the misery of being in their fetid company.

  34. Matt Westwood says:

    The story I heard was rather more sinister: there’s a movement that is being taken seriously that will ensure that *all* meat sold in supermarkets will have to be halal.

    I’m completely with AgentCormac — I too would very much like to know whether meat is halal or kosher, so as to give me the opportunity to avoid it — so I’m all in favour of meat being labelled as appropriate.

  35. AgentCormac says:

    Some good news elsewhere – the laughably fascist Protect the Pope blog seems to have been finally wound up. Quell domage! The final comment, posted by Führer Nick’s devoted other half under the heading ‘There will be no further news postings on Protect the Pope’, says it all (the capitalisation is hers): PLEASE DO NOT POST COMMENTS ON THIS AS I WILL NOT FEEL ABLE TO POST THEM. THANK YOU. GOD BLESS

    Bye-bye, morons!

  36. barriejohn says:

    I see that “free schools” are in the news again – for all the wrong reasons. As most are run by godbotherers, who could possibly have predicted financial mismanagement?

  37. barriejohn says:

    Totally off-topic I’m afraid, but I was sad to hear of the death of Prof Colin Pillinger. I have no idea of his religious views, if any, but he was certainly a visionary, and, I suspect, a rationalist!

  38. Broga says:

    @AgentCormac: I’m not a visitor to Protect the Pope but I took a look and came across this ludicrous sentence:

    “Please pray for Deacon Nick, our Bishop, myself, and the Church.”

    The stupidity comes from the opinion that there is a God to respond. The arrogance comes from the idea that this bunch of nutters are so transcendentally important that an omnipotent God would trouble to respond to prayers on their behalf. And the sentence is undercut with a mawkish smugness which characterises all requests of this kind.

  39. barriejohn says:

    Broga: That reminds me of the old joke about the man who went on and on for ages in his prayer, and when he sat down another brother rose to his feet and said: “Lord, we pray for the Eskimos because they’re the only ones who haven’t been prayed for!”

  40. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: My personal experience of prayer, as a young child, was to recite parrot fashion before sleeping:

    “If I should die before I wake;
    I pray the Lord my soul to take.”

    That was it. No explanation as to why I might die. Nothing about what was meant by “Lord” nor where he would take my soul. And no definition of soul.

    It meant nothing. It neither frightened nor comforted me. I suspect that for many in families which merely go through the motions of religion the effect is the same. Later I did enjoy the language of the KJ bible e.g. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death etc………..” Not that there was any spiritual meaning attached to it for me.

    To this day I still like some hymns and Christmas Carols. I like “In the bleak mid winter ………” Terrific words. And Christianity and its stories, fictions, are part of me and I can’t lose that.

    The “faith” I lost early in life and I doubt if I ever had it except in the most shallow form.

    I hope the above doesn’t get me excommunicated from the site.

  41. barriejohn says:

    Broga: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

    You called upon the name of the Lord, so you must be saved!

    (Believe it or not, I have heard that argument used seriously.)

  42. Brummie says:

    Prayer for me at aged 11 was kneeling on cold lino every night to drone out the rosary with my mother and sister. 3 Our Fathers, 3 Glory Be s and 30 Hail Marys. It took about three quarters of an hour of total boredom and shivering discomfort.
    For what?

  43. chrsbol says:

    For what?
    Prepatellar bursitis that’s what!

  44. Broga says:

    @barriejohn/Brummie: I have come to realise what you, and others like you, have had to endure. My mum became an atheist and I suppose the seeds were always there. The picture from your lives does seem cold, harsh and quite awful to be inflicted on children. I’m pleased not only that you escaped the manacles of religion but that you now so vigorously, and interestingly, state your opinions.

    I read in an article in New Scientist that if both parents are atheist then only 3% of children later turn to religion.

  45. barriejohn says:


    Historical tradition! Why not bring back witch burnings too since they were part of life in historical Salem.

    Honestly, I feel bad for those atheist kids that have to recite that. I had to say the Lord’s Prayer as a kid and I just hated it. I don’t do well being thought controlled. I never would have survived a totalitarian regime. I’d snap, reveal myself & get shot.


    I never understood why conservatives think the constitution means what it says except when they get to modify the 1st amendment with ‘historical tradition’.

    The 1st doesn’t say that. But they say religion is more important than the constitution.

  46. barriejohn says:

    Here’s another case:

    Another neighbor, Jimmie Pekar added, “If you live in the United States, the greatest country in the world, you should support the United States.”

    …Who wants to bet Jimmie Pekar has never traveled outside the country?

  47. barriejohn says:

    And another:

    Williams added he hopes the practice of having an opening prayer will bring the board of commissioners closer together “and show we’re not there to just represent the people but to do God’s work as well.

    Where do they find these people? I’m losing the will to live!