Expect no prayer before football game

Private speech versus public speaking’the distinction between the two is the reason students, parents and the general public who attend Friday night’s first home game of the 2000 school year for Brady will not hear a pregame prayer. No thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was argued on March 29, 2000, and decided on June 19, 2000, student-led prayers at organized school events are now unconstitutional. The decision comes following the filing of a lawsuit by a Santa Fe, Tex., woman against the Santa Fe ISD on behalf of her children. The case and its decision have sparked numerous debates and questions about who can say what at public schools and what is or is not considered freedom of speech. Friday night’s first Brady Bulldog home football game of the year will have a slight change in the program as compared to years past. Instead of the normal prayer that has traditionally accompanied the pregame activities, there will now be a “moment of silence” immediately following the national anthem. “Our lawyers have instructed us [the school district] not to violate the latest ruling,” said BISD Supt. Max Gordon. “At this time, a moment of silence is as far as anyone is going, and we are going to do that as well. “A lot of schools are not even addressing the problem, but we are going to go ahead and at least have a moment of silence. They haven’t told us that we can’t, so that is what we are going to do.” What the Supreme Court decision actually does say is that “. . .at a minimum, the Constitution guarantees that government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise, or otherwise act in a way that establishes a state religion or religious faith or tends to do so.” The court judgement also goes on to say, “The District [Santa Fe] argues unpersuasively that these principles are inapplicable because the policy’s messages are private student speech, not public speech. The delivery of a message such as the invocation here’on school property, at school-sponsored events, over the school’s public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, under the supervision of school faculty, and pursuant to a school policy that explicitly and implicitly encourages public prayer’is not properly characterized as ‘private’ speech.” Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy hearing the youth of today take pride in whom and in what they believe by publicly and openly expressing their faith in God. The degradation of morals and the lack of character in today’s society is quickly eroding some of the most basic principles on which this country was founded. The courts should stand up for people who wish to express their faith in God, but that too would be against the constitution’which oddly enough was based on Christian values (see examples in today’s Letters to the Editor.) The topic of praying at or before high school sporting events has sparked nationwide controversies and debates about why or why not student-led prayer should be allowed. Some cities have organized massive movements to overshadow the lack of a pregame prayer by having prayer rallies during the week. One man in Temple has created an organization called No Pray, No Play in response to the court’s ruling, with the goal of encouraging Christian people to repeat the Lord’s Prayer after the national anthem at high school football games. The group’s mission statement, as found on their web site, makes it clear that they are in a clear evangelical effort to win souls. “Choose a team!” the web site states. “One side is led by ‘Team Owner Elohim Yhwh, King of Kings & Lord of Lords.’ “The head coach is Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. The other team is led by ‘Head Coach/Team Owner Satan a.k.a. Lucifer.'” The web site goes on to challenge people to make a choice in how they wish to live their lives using sports jargon to convey the message. “Read the stats carefully before choosing a team. The wrong choice could cost you your soul.” No, it is not the government’s job to promote religion’that responsibility lies with the church and its people. One local church has taken it upon itself to take out a full-page advertisement in the football programs showing support for prayer by publishing a prayer similar to the ones previously heard spoken over the public address system. No organized effort (as far as I know) has been made to recite the Lord’s Prayer or any other type of prayer at Friday night’s football game. Whether you agree with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision or not, the law has been laid down and school districts must follow it or face potential lawsuits. One can only hope (and pray) that this attempt by few will spur on the growth and expansion of churches and Christianity and the desire of today’s youth to stand up for what they believe. And if people are so inclined, after the singing of the national anthem Friday night, why not add a second acapella verse that begins with “Our Father. . .”

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