People believe some crazy shit in the name of religion. Whether or not you think magic underwear is more crazy than talking donkeys, dragons, or the sin of mixed material fabrics is largely a matter of cultural indoctrination. We all have family legends and local superstitions that probably look nuts to outsiders, but that’s ok. We should all be able to get along even if the particulars of our irrational belief systems don’t always match. As long as these beliefs don’t become a matter of public policy.
Here in Mississippi, it’s always a matter of public policy. The South is known for being particularly religious, to be sure, but I’m not sure that means Southerners are more pious, that their faith goes deeper. It seems to mean, instead, that they make more appearances at church, and they simply refuse to acknowledge the separation of church and state.
Principal Lowanda Tyler-Jones crossed a line when she anointed desks, pencils, doorways, and students’ heads with holy water as she prayed for them before a standardized test. Maybe this is acceptable behavior in Clarksdale, but it is a clear violation of students’ rights not to be anointed with holy water by a batshit crazy person. Somebody call the ACLU! The ACLU Is very busy here, by the way, and is being helped out a lot by the Appignani Humanist Association which handles the regular lawsuits against my kids’ school for locking children into revival meetings in the middle of the school day. You know it’s only the lawyers that win in these situations. I feel marginally ok about this because I get invited to their pool parties.
But wait! You will never guess what happened! Her prayers were answered! The test scores were great! Maybe the holy water is the key ingredient you’re missing if your prayers are going unanswered. Can you can get it on Amazon?
I wish she had been more careful in what she had asked for, though, because the students did not become more academically proficient in the long term. They performed very poorly the following year when they aged up to a different school. Also God did not give them the right answers up front. According to an almost $250,000 investigation by an independent company paid for by your tax dollars, God had to erase a lot of wrong test answers. You’d think God might understand that Tyler-Jones meant she wanted the kids to KNOW the right answers not just GET the right answers. God must be a literalist. Or possibly an ass.
Further investigation revealed that Ms. Tyler-Jones instructed teachers to coach students and change their wrong answers. God helps those who help themselves. The principal is in plenty of hot water over this, and it doesn’t look like her prayers are going to keep her out of jail, but what I want to know is why didn’t someone say something when she was running around sprinkling scantron sheets with the blessings of the pope? Did no one think this might be a warning sign? Is this woman even Catholic? It’s more of a Southern Baptist kind of place. If she is Catholic, is she more justified in using this tactic? Catholics please weigh in.
We shouldn’t be surprised if people think that they can justify their own behavior as long as they invoke the name of God. Not if that’s what’s being taught from the pulpit. This is the same state where the Mayor of the Capital City has publicly admitted he believes praying for our potholes to go away is an actual solution to our infrastructure problem. I keep thinking that must be taken out of context, or he meant it sarcastically as in, “People, we only have so much money, so all I can do is pray until y’all cough up a tax base I can work with,” but it turns out, no, he does really mean it. After all, he said, “Moses prayed and a sea opened.”
I’m not going to weigh in on the theological implications of prayer or even on the psychological effects. I would appreciate it however, if officials refrained from praying instead of doing their jobs. That’d be great. Thanks.