Sunday 25 September 2016

POTUS Masterson. I haven't a prayer

John Masterson

Published 14/03/2016 | 02:30

Hilary Clinton
Hilary Clinton

I was fortunate that my first schoolteacher was a woman called Lena Wray. She was an excellent teacher, but I don't even have to close my eyes to hear her in desperation pleading, "God grant me patience." We were an exasperating lot and the teacher/pupil ratio left a lot to be desired. From age four I doubted the power of prayer because we loved her dearly but never saw any sign of her developing patience.

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In the USA, God matters a lot to voters. So it was perfectly normal for Hillary Clinton to be asked in a debate last week "To whom and for what do you pray?" Note the assumption that she does pray. No admitted atheist will make it to the White House for a while.

She said she does pray, and listed things like family, sick people, people with heavy responsibility, and in each cast you could have substituted "think about" with no loss of meaning. She didn't say who she prayed to. Then she went on to add that she "prayed for the will of God to be known so we can follow and fulfil it to the best of our abilities."

I would prefer if the leader of the free world looked at the relevant information and then made a decision in the best interests of the people. George Bush has been quoted as saying that was told by God to invade Iraq. There has been some dispute about precisely what he said but there are a number of credible sources including Israeli Diplomats who confirm some such sentence. One wonders if he was also told about the weapons of mass destruction from the same source.

Psychologists have noted that talking to God is called praying and when he talks back it is schizophrenia. George Bush and Hillary Clinton are clearly not insane. The nanny who beheaded a child in Moscow and walked the streets with the severed head because 'Allah ordered her to do it' clearly is insane. The ISIS beheaders are also doing God's will, in their minds, and I would also contend that they meet the criteria for insanity. But neither Bush, Clinton, ISIS or the nanny could talk like this were it not for years of indoctrination that began with the schools they attended and the various rituals and rites of passage that turn a human being into a creature that believes things that they would never believe if they first came across them as an adult.

Religion has no place in schools other than as a topic that arises in geography, history, science, or philosophy.

Pupils should be equipped with the skills to scrutinise and evaluate ideas critically from the earliest age. They would learn how the world works and indeed how the universe works insofar as we understand those things. They should learn that theories and beliefs should be testable and tested.

Far better to understand why planes fly, people get sick, people get better than to have any notion that prayer in some crazy way suspends the laws of nature just for you.

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