I wrote recently about David Paszkiewicz, the teacher who used — and apparently continues to use — his position as a public school history teacher to preach to his students. I recently interviewed Matt LaClair, the student who recorded him doing so, and he said that Paszkiewicz still doesn’t understand that what he did was wrong. Someone left a link in a comment that shows this to be true.
The link is to a column at Breakpoint where a Christian offered a solution to the prayer mural controversy involving Jessica Ahlquist. The writer suggested a better way to handle the court’s ruling that the mural be taken down:
I recommend that the students of Cranston High School West meditate on the words of the very prayer they are so determined to preserve. It’s time for the students to take the prayer down from the gymnasium wall where it has been collecting dust, and actually recite it daily.
How can they do that, you may ask?
Well, Rhode Island has a law requiring a daily moment of silent meditation. It reads as follows:
“16-12-3.1 Period of silent meditation. — At the opening of every school day in all grades in all public schools the teacher in charge of the room in which each class is held shall announce that a period of silence not to exceed one minute in duration shall be observed for meditation, and during this period silence shall be maintained and no activities engaged in.”
I recommend that the school’s Christian club print the “School Prayer” on a small card and distribute it to every student on campus. The club can then encourage students to silently read the card every day during the mandatory period of silent meditation.
If the school doesn’t have a Christian club, I recommend they start one immediately. Under the Equal Access Act, if the school has any non-curricular clubs, it cannot deny a Christian club from starting — even if the club’s sole purpose is to distribute the “prayer cards.” Imagine the good that could result if even half of the 1,750 students at Cranston High started their day reading the prayer card.
This is a wonderful opportunity for the good students of Cranston High to do what the makers of the banner intended 50 years ago — actually pray the prayer. Symbolism has its place. But given the choice between symbolism and substance, I’ll take substance every time.
Of course, saying a prayer is just as symbolic of putting it on the wall since there’s no one to listen to the prayers. But at least this person is telling them to stop abusing Jessica Ahlquist and to actually put the ideas expressed in that prayer — kindness and fair play — into practice instead. David Paszkiewicz left this paranoid and ridiculous comment:
Awesome idea Eric! And then when they find a way to deny the kids their Christian Club we can come back to this blog and pontificate on how the “noble” thing for a Christian to do is to meekly surrender and go home and meditate silently in our basements. Afterall, we don’t want to confront the culture and make a stand for Christ now do we? Wake up! The Community needs to take a stand by flooding the school board meetings. No one is forced to pray that prayer. The Atheist student doesn’t have to look at it if she doesn’t want to.
Notice the entirely unwarranted paranoia. They can’t stop the Christian club from forming; federal law explicitly allows it and many court rulings have supported it. There are literally thousands of Christian clubs in public schools around the country. One would think that might be enough to convince Paszkiewicz that he’s being absurdly paranoid, but that would require rethinking his entire stance and he’s not capable of doing that. He bases his entire worldview on the absurd notion that Christians are terribly persecuted in this country and that they must “make a stand for Christ” in the face of oppressive laws that don’t allow him to treat a public school classroom as a Sunday school classroom.