Children, Pull Out Your Chickens


'Let's quiet down, children. Now that we've finally gotten rid of that terrible Supreme Court decision, I can again lead you in prayer.

'So children, let's get ready for our morning prayer. Did everyone remember to bring their chicken?

'Mary, where is your chicken? That's all right, Mary. Don't cry. As I told you yesterday, if you can't afford a chicken, the school is required to provide one. I've got plenty of extra chickens up here by the prayer mats, meditation crystals and peyote buds. Did anyone else forget to bring their chicken?

'As you know from your schedule, children, today I will lead you in a Santeria prayer. It's a recognized, ancient religion. Now I know some of you have complained that many of these prayers don't represent your beliefs. But remember, they do represent the sincere beliefs of many Americans. I promise you that eventually we will lead the class in a prayer representing your own religion.

'But you'll have to be patient. There are hundreds of Christian denominations with all sorts of beliefs in the United States. And there are hundreds more non-Christian religions recognized in America. If your religion isn't on our list, just let us know and we'll make sure it's added. We don't want to leave anyone out. That's not the American way.

'Be thankful'

'Everyone knows that you have never been prevented from praying in school, but for years you were denied having teachers and principals lead you in prayer. You should be thankful.

'Johnnie, I don't know what you're doing to that chicken, but stop it. You need to straighten up and be serious. This is important. If it were not important, then why did 224 Texas counties and 51 Texas cities go to the trouble to pass resolutions supporting the reinstatement of state-sponsored prayer in our public schools? I'll tell you why, because lots and lots of people said the loss of state-sponsored prayers led to drug use, crime, violence, teenage pregnancy, dropouts, family disintegration, child-abuse, pornography, racism, poor academic achievement, overcrowded prisons and lots of other bad things.

'Before we start, remember that tomorrow we will have a traditional Wicca prayer and we'll try to cast a spell on the press. Remember to bring a lock of your mother's hair.

'Johnnie, keep that chicken quiet. What is it, Lucy? If you want me to tell you when I will lead you in a prayer of your religion, you'll have to tell me what it is. You can't look at someone and tell their personal beliefs. Unitarian? What coming up...

'Let's see, coming up we have Christian Science, Amish, Tibetan Buddhism, Seventh-Day Adventist, Comanche, Zoroastrianism, Druze, Calvinist Baptist, Unification, Hassidism and Deliverance Pentacostal. That one should be interesting. I think that's when you bring a rattlesnake and a cup of poison.

'I don't see it coming up right away, Lucy. Let's see, we have the Reformed Druids of North America, American Vegan, Shanti Yoga, Evangelical Presbyterian, Baha'i World Faith, Gnostic Orthodox, House of Yahweh, Agasha Temple of Wisdom, Church of Metaphysical Christianity, Jain Meditation, Catholic Charismatic, People of Destiny, Branch Davidian, Coptic Fellowship, Church of Satan, ...

'I don't know, Lucy. It doesn't look like Unitarian is coming up any time soon. But if we don't lead you in a prayer of your own church or religion this year, the government requires that we lead you in a prayer of your religion at least once before you graduate. This way, it's fair for everyone.

'OK, kids, on the count of three, yank the heads off your chickens and I'll start today's prayer.

-- by Roland Nethaway, Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald
[reprinted without permission]



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