North Carolina State Senate Unanimously Approves ‘It’s Okay to Pray’ Bill

You know how praying in schools is perfectly legal? Because it is. And no atheist group would even think about taking that right away from students who pray privately or in a non-disruptive way.

But that didn’t stop the North Carolina General Assembly from unanimously passing Senate Bill 370 yesterday. SB 370 is a Republican-sponsored bill that “clarif[ies] student rights to engage in prayer and religious activity in school.” As if people were trying to put a stop to that

Senate Bill 370, which now heads to the House, would allow students to pray silently at any time or out loud during non-instructional time as long as the prayer is initiated by students — not teachers or staff — and nobody is forced to participate. Also, any school employees present during a student prayer would be encouraged to “adopt a respectful posture.”

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, said teachers and school administrators are so confused by laws on school prayer that a McDowell County student was ordered to delete a portion of her poem where she described her late grandfather praying.

“This act is an attempt to clarify statewide that students do have the right to express in manners as they otherwise would their religious affiliations,” Hise said. “It also tends to clarify that faculty members aren’t required, as they felt they were under other policies, to be hostile to those expressions.”

Really? A student was told to not describe her late grandfather praying? Why would anyone tell her that?! Maybe because she was going to read it at an assembly which could’ve been a problem. Hise never mentioned that.

Anyway, at first glance, there’s really nothing in the bill that shouldn’t be there — no attempt to sneak Christian proselytizing into the public schools under the guise of protecting religious liberties. It’s just a meaningless bill since these laws are already in place and make sense to people who take the time to actually read and understand them.

North Carolina, by the way, is the same state where House Republicans tried to establish a state religion last month. So if anyone needs to be reminded of what the law says, it’s the House, where this bill is headed to next.

(image via Shutterstock — Thanks to Richard for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Baby_Raptor

    The only people who are confused on the matter are people who think they’re being deprived of their rights if they can’t force everyone else to go along with them.

    This isn’t going to help those people understand their actual rights, it’s just going to embolden them.

    Edit: “Rights,” dumb auto-correct. Not “girth.” Where did you get that?

  • A3Kr0n

    North Carolina State Senate members are still unequivocal assholes.

  • corps_suk

    “adopt a respectful posture”
    Wonder what that means?
    Bow our head, cross your hands…what?

    Does it also mean atheist students can “pray” outloud for guidance from reason and logic and school employees would then need to adopt a respectful posture during those “prayers”?

    Side note, wouldn’t a law protecting only prayer, a religious activity, be an establishment of religion? As opposed to protecting students freedom to do what they want quietly and during non-instructional time so long as they aren’t being disruptive?

  • Gary

    What about a cheerleader prayer banner? This bill seems to allow something like that.

  • Borax

    When Obama won NC in 2008 I thought my state was finally becoming more progressive. Then came the dark times. In 2010 a bunch of tea party nuts took over the state. Now we have the same ALEC legislation and libertarian bullshit that is killing the rest of the south. I’m lucky to live in liberal Asheville in the mountains of NC, but the bastards in Raleigh are actively trying to kill my city. The first thing the bastards did was gerrymander most of Asheville into the uber-conservative 10th district. Now they are trying to take away Asheville’s water system and turn it over to a private company (that just accidentally dumped over 6 million gallons of raw sewage into a local river) without any compensation.

  • Borax

    Yes, yes they are. I stopped myself before I went on a full on frothy mouthed rant.

  • SeekerLancer

    Some Christian friends like to call me paranoid about Christian Dominionists in our government, yet every week or so there’s somebody trying to establish a state religion or something. When it comes to our constitutional rights, we can’t give an inch or they’ll try to take a mile.

  • K. Alex Rosen

    NC is a theocracy as one is not allowed to hold office without believing in “Almighty God”. Well-reasoned decisions are not expected from the government here, unfortunately.

  • Puzzled

    Both of those things are bad, one administratively and one for multiple reasons. Both are rights violations; neither are libertarian.

  • Puzzled

    I disagree that it’s meaningless. The words might say only that something currently allowed is allowed, but it won’t be taken that way, and the legislators know it. In the minds of the religious, the right to pray equals the right to make others participate, or at least “listen with a respectful posture.”

    I also disagree with you that reading an essay at an assembly is a reason to disallow including a description of a praying grandfather.

  • Pulse

    Does it also mean atheist students can “pray” outloud for guidance from reason and logic and school employees would then need to adopt a respectful posture during those “prayers”?

    I find it unlikely that any atheist would honestly want to do this. However, it’s entirely probable that some Muslim students would want to bow toward Mecca during school hours, and this bill clarifies that other students and faculty would have to respect their right to do so.

    Side note, wouldn’t a law protecting only prayer, a religious activity, be an establishment of religion?

    No, singling out a one particular right for clarification does not in any way exclude other similar rights, nor does it mandate the practice of that right. Prayer is a right that is protected by law, and pointing out that it is in fact protected by law does not endorse or force its activity.

  • Feminerd

    Actually, turning over the public water system to a private corporation is exactly libertarian, in the laissez faire, government can do no right sort of way.

  • Octoberfurst

    I couldn’t agree more! I too have Christian friends who dismiss the idea that there is a significant percentage of the Christian population who would love to see the US become a right-wing theocracy. But yet I see signs all the time of these fanatics trying to introduce legislation that makes the Bible the law of the land. But they couch it in terms of “religious liberty” when it really is religious domination. We must always be vigilant or they WILL take over. (Fanatics are like that.)

  • baal

    It does not by the plain reading of its text. It explicitly says the prayer may not “Otherwise infringe on the rights of other persons.” The banner infringes the right of the public to not have the government say a prayer (via it’s agents, the cheerleaders on the school (a gov entity) property at the school event).

  • Pulse

    Cheering fans in the stands? Sure, they can bring whatever signs they want. A school endorsed and funded cheerleading organization? You’ll have a legal tangle to deal with.

  • baal

    Hrm, I read the bill. As currently drafted (on 5/10/13), I don’t like parts of it but It looks like an honest attempt to codify the existing status quo. It seems (standing alone) like the drafters went out of their way to be neutral in tone and content.

    I’m somewhat more interested in what it looks like after amendments are passed and it gets enacted.

  • Octoberfurst

    I have a conservative Christian Facebook friend who recently posted a picture of a student that had a caption that said something like, “Vulgarity is ok in school but prayer is not. What mixed up values we have! Let kids pray!” I just rolled my eyes and replied that kids ARE allowed to pray in school. No one is saying they can’t. It’s just that you can’t force others to pray or to listen to your prayers. He didn’t respond.
    I get so tired of this straw man argument that kids can’t pray in school. Christians act like they are persecuted when they clearly are not. But hey, it’s a good way to rally the faithful—even though it’s a lie.

  • ortcutt

    Well, this also clarifies that it’s OK to talk out loud about the non-existence of gods during non-instructional time. Anything less would be blatant viewpoint discrimination. I hope that principals and faculty will “adopt a respectful posture” during those times.

  • Guest

    Hemant – thanks for posting this and filling in some of the details. Keep up the good work! Rich

  • Richard

    Thanks for posting this.


  • Chupper

    Democrats controlled the state legislature for over 100 years, and then Republicans finally got a chance and are blowing their pent up wads of insanity all over the state. Unfortunately, their first order of business was to gerrymander themselves into semi-permanent ownership of state politics, so we’re stuck with this crap for a while.

  • Baby_Raptor

    People who still get saddlesore about “bad” words really confound me. It’s like…Do you *really* need your daily dose of indignation so badly that you’ll get upset about someone saying “damn”?

    Also, vulgarity is not allowed in schools. I have a criminal record because a teacher heard me say “Fuck” after accidentally slamming my finger in my desk in sophomore year algebra.

  • Puzzled

    Getting off topic, so I’ll make this my last post on this topic, but no, it isn’t. While there are different answers given by different libertarians about how to go about a transition to smaller government, none of them consists of “give it to a private company for free.” Giving it away for free simply consists of theft from the legitimate owners. A water system is legitimately public – as in owned by all in common, not owned by the government, and isn’t theirs to give (or to sell, for that matter, but at least if its sold, the money could, in principle, be used for community matters related to water.) The government also should not have the power to exempt companies from legal consequences of their actions, as in protecting and rewarding companies who dump waste into the rivers. This is the kind of action that supports libertarian critiques – government by and large operates for the benefit of the rich, and its interventions frequently amount to taking away a public water supply (metaphorically usually) and giving it to some private owner, who is then allowed to extract rent with it.

  • TCC

    To be honest, this legislation could be seen as addressing a legitimate problem (although one that needed to be resolved by education, not legislation, as the law is already clear). I’ve heard even teachers repeat the “You can’t pray in school” BS, which is a good sign that we haven’t done a good job of educating our educators about what is appropriate in terms of religious entanglement and students’ free exercise rights. But as I said, legislation wasn’t the way to deal with the problem, since students’ right to pray as long as it doesn’t disrupt the educational environment has been protected even while mandated participation (even if there’s an opt-out) has been struck down. If the legislature wanted to fix the problem, allocate some money for districts to do inservices on the topic of religious expression.

  • guest

    North Carolina, the Texas of the Atlantic coast. SMH. F—tards.

  • fentwin

    I live in NC, and ever since McCrory and his teabagging cohorts got elected to Raleigh they have wasted no time in wasting our time with idealogical TeaParty claptrap. Don’t forget, this is the same crowd that floated the idea of a state religion, and that science can’t be used to explain changes in sea level.

  • DoctorDJ

    And what’s the school going to do the first time a muslim kid rolls out his prayer rug in the middle of class?

  • Anna

    It’s perfectly fine in Texas, where a judge just ruled the cheerleaders can have their banner. All these laws are at the whim of judicial interpretation.

  • James Lindsay

    Symbolism to protect symbolism to protect State Senate seats voted upon by people who want to feel their symbolism is symbolically protected.

  • NewDawn2006

    “Hise never mentioned that”

    Of course not. It seems like it is their job to leave out crucial facts and information in order to solidify their case for martyrdom all the damn time.

  • NewDawn2006

    Teachers are given opportunities to understand this. We just had a legal training that had covered this topic a couple months ago. The problem is that teachers choose not to understand what this really entails because they, like the rest of the xtians who enjoy martyrdom, would rather sit in ignorance and cry “foul!” and “persecution!”…

  • Spuddie

    Stone him to death?

  • Birdie1986

    I don’t think anyone should be required to “adopt a respectful posture.” WTF does that mean? Would a teacher get in trouble for not bowing his/her head? Who gets to decide what is and isn’t “respectful”?

  • Spuddie

    Why try to win elections when stealing them is much easier? Between the gerrymandering and phony voter ID laws, the Republicans do whatever they can to hijack the democratic processes.

  • SeekerLancer

    Sometimes I wonder if Obama winning did more damage to the progressive movement than good, and not by any fault of his own. His race and his Muslim sounding name stirred a reactionary response in the people who eventually became the Tea Party.

    On the other hand the Tea Party is pretty self-destructive. The loonier they become the less influence they’ll wield.

  • SeekerLancer

    I wonder what they define as vulgarity because I’m pretty sure dropping the f-bomb will still land you in detention.

  • Spuddie

    What Obama did was remove any pretense of reasonableness his opposition had. They are simply saying in public what they used to just say in private.

    In the past it used to be easy to dismiss the racist, fundamentalist, anti-democratic elements as part of the fringe. There was some internal resistance. The fiscal conservative/social liberals were usually a check to this crowd. Now that group is called RINOs and all but driven away.

  • Feminerd

    Oh no, lets get into this. Because I have libertarian friends, and they say exactly the opposite of you. Basically, they argue that there should be no public goods. If it’s public, then by definition anyone can use and/or exploit it because it isn’t anyone’s private property. My objection is that even if the water system is sold to the private company instead of given away, private corporations have inherent conflicts of interest in such things.

    The libertarians I’ve spoken to, both IRL and on the Internet, argue that government can impose only so many taxes as pay for an army and some courts to uphold contracts. That’s it. Government may not impose any restrictions on business that they do not contractually obligate of themselves. It may not restrict freedom to pollute, freedom to exploit workers, freedom to union-bust, or freedom to starve to death. Pure laissez faire capitalism, they cry, and ignore the horrific consequences thereof.

    When you say government should not have the power to exempt companies from the legal consequences of their actions, you are not any sort of libertarian I’ve ever met. They argue, instead, that companies should have no legal consequences to their actions, that government should have no power over companies at all.

    So I agree with you; pollution must be punished, public goods should remain in public hands. I merely disagree with your labeling: your views I associate not with libertarianism but rather progressivism.

  • mike

    This is going to cause a lot of fun. I’m sure that they meant to protect their ability to preach to kids. What they just did was empower them. There is nothing to stop a group of students from taking a tour of prayers that aren’t christian. And the adults have to respect them! Praying out loud is basically asking for attention without regard to other people, and I think that many kids are into that these days. This is every little bastards’ dream come true: rebel a little, piss off adults, get attention.

  • WallofSleep

    I had a conversation with someone like that a while back, with him uttering the familiar “They’re taking god out of our schools” nonsense. We were interrupted before I had a chance to respond with “What’s the world coming to when children can’t go to school and offer up hecatombs to Apollo.”

  • Puzzled

    Ok. You’ll have to forgive my ignorance, for now, of how to do anything but post block paragraphs. Anyway, the label question you end with – labels are difficult, and sometimes it seems to be subjective whether you have an argument within a school of thought, or two schools of thought. For instance, I’d label the views you seem to call libertarian as conservative. I’d reserve progressive for the things the progressives did – many small wars for industry, one large war for an abstraction, and in general – promoting a more uniform society (with the view that justice and correctness always look the same everywhere) and establishing moderate regulation without entirely eliminating subsidies, corporate welfare, and the like. That said, I think there are legitimate disagreements within the school called ‘libertarian.’ One of them, as you noted, is the nature of public property. My view is that libertarians who do not recognize the category of public (as distinct from government-owned conceptually) are making a mistake, and a mistake that leads to mistaken conclusions. You provide an example above – something being public explicitly does not mean everyone and anyone may exploit or break it – it means that, as opposed to private, it belongs to everyone in common, and hence no one may exploit it or break it – or, as here, sell it, because doing so is theft from all the other owners. Joint ownership means each has the right to individually use it. On pollution and the like, it’s not as if I were outside the libertarian mainstream, I might add – Murray Rothbard dealt with these issues in precisely the opposite of the way you suggest above. Rothbard’s point was that it was a government intervention, of a particularly misguided type, to exempt industry from the laws that ought to apply to all, such as the prohibition on dumping crap onto people’s property or assaulted them by putting things into their lungs without consent. He traces the history of this as well, pointing out that the state found such lawsuits to be unacceptable because the state’s view was that the right of the individual to not be attacked had to be balanced against the need for industrial development. The libertarian view is that no such balancing can be done except by the individual. As to legitimate powers of government, to be sure, my answer is different from yours. My answer is ‘none.’ But that means, first and foremost, that such things as subsidies, corporate personhood, and exemptions from natural law are all illegitimate. The problem with the state, in the case of, say, pollution, is first that it establishes itself as the only enforcer of natural law, and second that it refuses, in certain cases, to defend that law(when doing so is to the advantage of the classes that traditionally provide personnel for the state.) Given that the state exists, and that it has forbidden all other ways of ensuring justice, the state may not selectively decide to not enforce certain just requirements. I think libertarians made a serious mistake a few decades ago when they purposefully misrepresented their own views, presenting only their conclusions, so as to form a misguided alliance with conservatives. Libertarianism is naturally a leftist type of philosophy – focusing, as the left does, on the individual. It is a bad fit on the right, which traditionally is concerned with authory, hierarchy, and tradition. I think it has led to absurd conclusions such as (as you cite above) corporations must be allowed to do whatever they want. The very existence of corporations is nothing but a state intervention to grant the legal fiction that a group can be a person.

  • onamission5

    Right there with you. Hands off our weird-assed cesspool of sin!

  • Feminerd

    I’d argue that progressives actually promote a more heterogeneous society; their values include tolerance and a respect for individual autonomy. That means that far from arguing that justice and correctness look the same everywhere, they argue that, barring the infringement of certain fundamental rights every person has, laws and customs can and should vary from place to place because people have the right to determine those things for themselves. However, because people have fundamental rights, governments must have the power to protect those rights. As for what those rights are, I refer you to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

    What wars have progressives started, especially the modern progressive movement? Are you blaming the Monroe Doctrine and our interventions in Latin America on a progressive movement?

    I agree with you that the state, having set itself up as the only legitimate enforcer of law, must be impartial in its enforcement. I don’t see failures of that role to mean government must fail, though, but rather as a sign that the state must be fixed. The state must not be allowed to let polluters get off scot-free, this is very true. I simply don’t agree that that’s a libertarian idea, but rather a progressive one, as it expands the scope of government instead of limiting it.

    As for public goods- often they are “owned” by a governmental body, instead of being completely unclaimed. It is possible for the state to sell them off to a private corporation; you can’t own the water, but you can own the water distribution system. I think that’s a terrible idea, but it can be done within our system of laws. I agree that libertarianism is a bad fit for the right, but I think it’s an equally bad fit for the left, as it is so overly concerned with one individual’s rights it fails to deal with the repercussions of its ideas on other individuals and society as a whole.

  • Puzzled

    On your comments on progressives – I take this again to be disagreement about labels. I have assumed, perhaps for good reason, perhaps not, that modern progressives have chosen that name in order to identify with the movement by that name that went to war multiple times in Latin America and brought us into WWI. I think the claim that since people have fundamental rights, governments must have the power to protect those rights, is a straight fallacy. Specifying the existence of a right does not specify the necessary means to protect that right. On your optimism about the possibility of having a state that does not respect the powerful, I disagree, unsurprisingly. I think the type of failure we’re talking about is a necessary characteristic of centralization of control – sufficient size requires bureacracy, which requires expertise, which can only be provided by the industry being regulated; monopolizing control means that only one organization need be captured, and the common folk will never have the ability of the rich to influence that system. By providing a single point of control, it makes it inevitable that the most powerful in society will capture it. Regarding public goods, I consider the claim that they are owned by the government to be a simple theft as well. In the existence of a state, I’d say the government should serve as a steward for such goods – because other means of ensuring their common quality have been excluded – but saying that the government owns them begs the question of when ownership was transferred from the public to the government. The only answer I can see to that is “when government asserted that it owns them.” Of course selling things off is possible – that’s why we’re discussing it – but the question here isn’t what’s possible, but what’s right. Doing so, to me, violates basic rights. As for fitting with the left, I don’t think that fitting into the left means agreeing in all ways with modern-day liberalism (much of which is not so far to the left at all), nor does it mean agreeing with every position you hold – that’s why it’s a distinct school of thought within the left, just as socialism differs from managerial liberalism. I think it is false to say that we fail to deal with repercussions of our ideas on individuals and society – I think those topics have been engaged, from a variety of perspectives, throughout the libertarian literature, including by the Austrians but not exclusively. Just because we come to different conclusions does not mean that we have failed to deal with these topics. For myself, I remain convinced, not that those repercussions don’t matter, but specifically that the libertarian answers are better than those of competing schools.

  • chicago dyke

    i’m so glad no one in NC needs a job, health care or an education such that legislators can turn their attention to important matters such as this.

  • rustygh

    Your friendly atheist take on things “You know how praying in schools is perfectly legal? Because it is. And no atheist group would even think about taking that right away from students who pray privately or in a non-disruptive way.”

    I disagree, they were smart to make this law because it’s coming. I’m here to tell you I do want to take it away! I hope down the road many more people agree, we need to make praying & religion of all kinds illegal in schools!

  • m6wg4bxw

    I support clarification on this issue. It’s surprising how many people believe any form of prayer is illegal in school. Some believe Bibles are banned there too. I try explaining the scope of the prohibition, which often leads to responses like, “If that’s true, then why isn’t someone telling us our rights? Why do we never hear about this?”

    I’ve even been told that the schools should announce to all students that they have the right to partake in personal prayer. The anger of these types would be justified if the situation reflected what they believe it to be like, But it doesn’t — they’re fighting and thrashing to break free from something which isn’t binding them.

  • TCC

    I had intended to mention that this is a problem exacerbated by the religious right, so I agree. I have a feeling, however, that your legal training is the exception rather than the rule; it would be the first I’ve heard of it outside of districts that have run afoul of church/state issues and have had to educate their employees.

  • TCC

    Yeah, because that will really help matters. </sarcasm>

  • Feminerd

    We can totally agree to disagree. For me, the current progressives picked that name to try to bring the idea of “progress” along, but tend to be much more pacifist/dove than the old-school progressives. They also needed a name that wasn’t “liberal”, thanks to the right’s tarnishing of that name/label. Indeed, I don’t see very much intellectual or political inheritance from the old progressive movement at all; it was imperialist, racist, and expansionist, all things that modern progressives are against.

    I agree that the state ought to be the steward of common resources and should never sell them to private entities. I do think that like water delivery systems or other public utilities can be sold, they just ought never be sold (the repercussions of privately held water or electric grids are terrifying). The problem is no individual is powerful enough to hold a corporation responsible for what it does, nor to regulate it to prevent “accidents”. We need another entity for that, which is the state. A private individual simply couldn’t find out that, say, acid rain was the reason the pine forests were dying, and the acid was coming from coal power plants, and then hold those power plants responsible and/or force them to emit less noxious gases. Only the state has that power. Only the state has to power to create regulations and then enforce them with fines and/or jail time. The explosion in West, Texas of the fertilizer depot was in large part due to underregulation- the fertilizer was stored next to potentially flammable things like seeds, lacked proper sprinkler systems, and was stored next to houses, schools, and clinics. The firefighters didn’t even know they were dealing with a potentially explosive situation when they went in to fight the fire. Before the fire, though, what could the people of West do about all this (if they’d known, which they didn’t)? They don’t have the power to set rules or levy fines for potentially unsafe situations in which nothing bad has happened yet.

    A single point of control and/or regulation is bad, but there is no effective alternative. Self-regulation fails even harder than state regulation, and regulation there must be. Suing corporations after the fact is time-consuming, expensive, difficult, and usually unsuccessful. Patterns are nearly impossible to discern because of a lack of corporate transparency. Who among us, the people, has the power or money to force fracking companies to disclose the chemicals in their fluid? Or use the proper cement? Or properly cap old wells? Or test the water to make sure it’s all been done right? I certainly don’t. You don’t. Together, we don’t. We might possibly be able to get some money in damages after the damage has been done to the land and water, but we couldn’t prevent it. Only the state, the legitimate monopoly of force and enforcer of laws, has the power and money to do that.

  • Steph Bazzle

    There are enough people confused about the matter that an affirmation of the actual facts of religious and prayer rights within school is needed- however, it doesn’t need to be done by new legislation, any more than we need a new law to explain any other given constitutional right. We need more education, instead. We need to somehow counterbalance what the extremist religious groups are claiming, and tell people the truth: nobody cares if you pray, we only care if you try to force us to.

  • Puzzled

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I only want to say here that you seem to be ignoring a point I raised earlier, which has a lot to do with what you’re saying here – you seem to be taking for granted that, without the state, we have the same basic world we live in now, except without the state doing the few things it does to protect us. However, I think that’s wrong. The entire idea of corporate personhood is a state intervention – concerns about dealing with corporations minus the state seem misplaced as a result. Without a state, there remain many entities which have an interest in the safety of the fertilizer plant, and the means to extract compliance (albeit without coercion.) For example, the fire company contracted to provide service there – they will demand access, and if not granted it, either not provide coverage (which will be unacceptable to any insurance company asked to insure the property), or charge a very high premium (unacceptable to the owner.) I think there would also likely be liability bonding more widely than today, and the bonding firm responsible for damage done by that plant in the event of a fire would also demand assurance of safety, or charge a very high premium. You can get around all that – go without insurance, go without fire protection, etc. – but the costs of doing so, I think, would be higher than the costs of bribing appropriate officials with a state – and certainly it’s no solution to say that officials should not be bribable, since utopia is not a viable option. (If it were, I might be far more inclined than I am today to favor a state.) So the standard should not be perfection – the standard should be comparative to the state, and to states as they actually exist and can exist, consistent with what we know of psychology, the human condition, and the like. Another point is that, even if you think that corporate personhood is a distinction without a difference, as you well may, there’s also the whole system of subsidy, corporate welfare, regulations against homebrewing, etc. that makes the corporations larger, richer, and more powerful than they would be in a free market. So loss of the things you worry about has to be balanced against the advantage of not letting them get to the state that they are so hard to control in the first place. Ultimately, I think the dispute can boil down to – what is the net effect of government? I maintain that it is transfer from the underclasses to the upperclasses, sometimes direct, more often indirect through a whole host of interlocking items. Tiny example – if someone with upper-class parents wants to start a business, they can start large, with big investments. If a person with lower-class parents wants to start a business, starting a small business has a multitude of problems – and if they want to start real small, homebrewing, the logical starting point, is illegal, as is drug sales. If they decide to try anyway, they’ll be branded a felon and lose the ability to pursue a whole host of options. In any case, thanks for the polite conversation and a good, thoughtful back and forth.

  • Steph Bazzle

    I was actually told (by my mom) when I was in sixth grade that ‘they’ had made it illegal to bring bibles to school, and that if I was suspended for taking mine, I would spend the entire period of the suspension eating ice cream, being taken to video game arcades, and anything else I wanted. I promptly started carrying it, so full of hope. Of course it wasn’t until years later that I heard a less…..conservative….point of view and learned that she was full of it.

  • m6wg4bxw

    Though unsuccessful, I applaud your strategy.

  • Feminerd

    Thank you as well, for the conversation and thoughtful back and forth.

    I look empirically at what places without states look like. They’re pretty shitty places to live. Anarchy is never pleasant, no matter what; corporations may be artificial entities, but they’re globally recognized artificial entities, and in places where the state can’t make them behave they … don’t. They hire hit men in Nigeria and Brazil to kill the people trying to organize against them, they so pollute the waters of the Nigerian delta that it’s basically unlivable, they turn lakes in China into multicolored disasters from dye factories, and so on. And it’s not just corporations that do this- individuals do it too. Money is power, and while our current state is trending towards oligarchy, the state in general doesn’t have to do that. See the Nordic countries for ways the state can actually be immensely valuable in redistributing wealth from the rich to everyone else.

    I do balance the costs and benefits of a strong, liberal state, and on balance I find the benefits outweigh the costs. Every place I would want to live has a strong liberal state, and the scale of state strength (along with other factors, such as democratic and liberal) correlates very strongly with where I’d want to live. Universal health care? Check. Strong gun regulations? Check. Open access to abortion and contraception? Check. Strong welfare system? Check. Strong environmental protections? Check. Education system with centralized, rigorous curriculum? Check. Getting better about financial consumer protections? I can only hope. The places that have those things are better places to live than places that don’t have those things by just about any measure. You’re right that the standard should be comparative to the state, and to states as they actually exist and can exist, consistent with what we know of psychology, the human condition, and the like. When we look at empirical examples, the “best” system is pretty clear, and it’s not libertarianism.

  • m6wg4bxw

    It’s not even close..

  • Baby_Raptor

    And that belief shows exactly how stupid they are. Seriously.

    My response to stuff like this is almost always “Okay, explain to me how the teacher or the principal knows that a student is praying silently in their heads.” Surprisingly, they never have an answer.

  • rwlawoffice

    The problem is that atheists, like a lot that post here claim that
    students have the right to pray and then they place their own
    limitations on it (like Hemant does in the post- as long as its silent
    or non disruptive) And then others who say as long as it is in their head or not at a school sponsored function, even if it is student led. The purpose of the bill is to clarify that not all prayer by students needs to be silent or in their heads. it can legally be in speeches, at football games or in writings such as the poem to be read at the assembly. What is causing the confusion is not the Christians, but the atheists including the FFRF that is trying to silence students and making others think that the constitution only allows them to pray on their own which isn’t the law.

  • NewDawn2006

    Well, even though they had the legal training, the district is still running afoul. The last school board meeting I attended they opened with a sectarian prayer. Haven’t been again since the new superintendent was hired, but I don’t have much hope for change…

  • jerryomega

    God Bless North Carolina.