When School Prayer Gets Creepy

It’s not because we don’t like conservative Christians. It’s not because we think Christianity is inherently bigoted. It’s not because we misunderstand SCOTUS precedent. But the more we hear this evangelical school group talking, the more likely we are to hear creepy tones of Handmaid’s Tale takeover. I’m hoping there are plenty of evangelicals who agree.

SYATP phone

See You at the Pole, fine. But don’t “Claim My Campus” !

Here’s the latest: Today is See You at the Pole day. That means K-12 students nationwide are encouraged to meet at their schools’ flagpoles to share a prayer.

So far, so good. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with students praying in schools. Teachers, too, as long as they don’t try to impose their religious views on their students.

The problem only comes when the organizers keep talking. The organization in charge partnered with another group to spread the word. This associated group declares its goal to spread prayer groups to every single school in the USA.

Nothing wrong with that, either. The problem only peeks through when we see the name of the sponsoring organization. It’s not “Pray If You Want.” It’s not “We Pray, Okay?” No, the name of the organization is “Claim Your Campus.”

Do we need to spell it out? Non-evangelical people—and I’m guessing most evangelicals, too—don’t want prayer groups to claim our campus! We want them to participate, sure. We want them to feel at home, of course. But we wish that Claim Your Campus and other evangelical groups would realize that they don’t have a right to CLAIM anything.

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  1. Agellius

     /  September 25, 2019

    I’m going to guess what they mean is “claim it for Christ”. I can understand you not liking the choice of words, but in reality it’s nothing to be afraid of. They’re talking about claiming it spiritually, which if there’s no God can’t happen anyway. A Catholic more likely would speak of “consecrating” a place to God, or of exorcising it of the evil with which it’s afflicted. It may surprise you to learn there’s a movement to consecrate the whole United States to the Blessed Virgin. Will that effort cause you to lose sleep? : )

    • Yeah, I get that, but I don’t think the evangelical school-prayer folks understand that talking about “claiming” public schools is ultimately harmful to their own cause.

      • Agellius

         /  September 26, 2019

        Harmful to their cause? Haha. To worry about something being harmful to their cause, they’d first have to think their cause wasn’t already hopeless. I suspect a lot of them are past caring how they’re perceived. That’s the down side of utterly beating people down, when there’s nothing more that you can take away from them, they’ve got nothing to lose and then how do you control them?

  2. Patrick Halbrook

     /  September 26, 2019

    According to their website, “Claim Your Campus means claiming responsibility to humbly pray to God on behalf of your school” (https://claimyourcampus.com/our-vision/). That doesn’t sound like the Handmaid’s Tale to me.

    But I agree, it’s a weird-sounding slogan if no one explains its meaning. It’s actually the kind of language Jerry Falwell used to use when talking about evangelism: “Claim your city for Christ and spend your life going out to capture it for Him…Ask Him for the whole city. Ask Him for everybody in it. Ask Him for the counties around it” (https://rsvpamerica.org/media/documents/protecting_women_and_children/Falwell%20to%20pastors;%20'Ask%20God%20to%20double%20our%20denomination'_Charlie%20Warren_June%2019,%202001_Western%20Recorder.pdf).

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