Recently, a Wisconsin-based organization prompted a Georgia school district to ban school sanctioned prayer before sporting events. The Wisconsin-based organization, The Freedom From Religion Foundation, told the school board that sanctioned prayers violate students’ First Amendment Rights.
Instead of arguing against the organization, the school board pulled the act of prayer out of their pre-game ritual. Despite the ban, hundreds turned out Friday night, Sep. 7, to pray together before the Haralson County High School football team took the field for the first time this season.
Instead of having a formal prayer before the game over the speaker system, the students and parents held their own prayer circles before the game. The participants in prayer also wore t-shirts that supported prayer. Some t-shirts read, “Rebels Pray Before We Play,” while others said, “Proud to be a Rebel and I Still Pray.”
Ironically, Rebels are Haralson’s team mascot. In an interview after the game, Connie Locklear, one pro-prayer supporter who helped organize the creation of the t-shirts said, “Everybody has their rights, but so do I, and it’s not right for one person to say that I can’t pray.”
My response to this news is simple, those who are pro-prayer are still able to pray so no one really loses in this situation. The title of the article from FoxNews where I pulled this information is called “First Amendment Prayer Fight Splits Georgia Town.” I can see why the town split into two groups, but at the same time I think the argument is silly.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation may have acted drastically, to an extent, but the school board’s reaction was appropriate to the situation they were put in. There was nothing the school board could really do without creating an even larger conflict.
Looking at this argument from a neutral perspective, the Freedom From Religion Foundation may have felt violated by being asked to listen to the prayer, but generally those prayers before games aren’t forcing anyone to do something they don’t feel comfortable with.
The one doing the praying over the speaker system isn’t trying to convert anyone. Typically, the one doing the praying is just asking that the players are safe on the field and no one gets hurt. How could anyone argue with that? I understand that it isn’t fair that the prayer is usually said by someone from a small pool of denominations, but at the same time this is the South–the bible belt. Having a small pool of denominations that one pulls from is the expectation. No harm, apparently a foul.
The pro-prayer people are the ones that feel targeted, and the article definitely catered to their perspective. I’m by no means saying that prayer is bad.
But if they are still able to pray before the games in any way they choose — with the exception of the speaker system, I don’t understand why this new ban is such a big deal. Then again, this argument is very similar to the debate that took place when people were talking about removing “under God” from the pledge of allegiance.
I still don’t know what resulted from that argument, but in the case of this current conversation, the town may be split, but people are still praying at school events. I could definitely understand the reaction of the group if they weren’t allowed to pray on the grounds of where the sporting event took place. But overall, I think the reaction of the pro-prayer people is a little ridiculous. Maybe it isn’t ideal, but prayer still counts if you aren’t saying it over a speaker system.
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