I think the Department of Education plus the NEA should commission, or claim to have commissioned, a major study demonstrating that parents, grandparents, television, the internet, and the miscellaneous religious influences with which they come in contact, are failing in their task of teaching our children to pray. Therefore, the Dept. of Education and NEA are developing a comprehensive K-12 program to address this failing. They will not, they caution, be considering alternate program proposals.
Some months after this initial announcement, they should come out with samples of a prototype curriculum designed to teach students (in ways appropriate to their grade level) the different theories, uses, practices, techniques, and purposes of prayer. There will necessarily be a certain amount of discussion of different theories of God(s), the divine, the supernatural, deism, atheism, theurgy, thaumaturgy, intercession, redemption, ordination, fate, luck, free will, and election. Lessons will also address the role of the person praying, with attention to faith, works, location, position, physical action, offerings, meditation, devotions, recited vs. newly composed prayers, third-party prayers, the acquisition of merit, the achievement of enlightened states, and general efficacy. (Note: the latter will not be regarded as a lab section.) All schools, public and private, will be required to include this material in their core curriculum. There will be a section on it added to standard achievement tests.
Kits containing this sample curriculum, plus study guides, should be mailed to tens of thousands of denominations, dioceses, synagogues, religious foundations, independent congregations, evangelical networks, seminaries, religious studies departments, legislators, think tanks, school boards, educational consultants, testing firms, and news outlets. The kits should contain a cover letter which formally solicits the recipients’ comments and opinions.
The purpose of this discussion phase, the letter will say, is not to take suggestions; but rather, to arrive at a working consensus. Participants may submit written responses, but they are strongly encouraged to post their comments at an online discussion forum set up for that purpose, where they can discuss them with others who have posted their own contributions. The board will be staffed with moderators whose prime directives are to repress free-for-all general discussions in favor of engagement with the specific details of the proposed curriculum, and to make sure that every point of view gets heard on every subject.