For many Christians, it’s not enough that they can pray silently to themselves before a big game. It’s not even enough that they can pray out loud while they’re sitting in the bleachers. They won’t rest until their Christian prayers are recited over the intercom system so the whole stadium can hear them.
And that’s where the Freedom From Religion Foundation draws the line:
The Freedom from Religion Foundation has issued a warning to the Mississippi’s 151 school superintendents not to allow prayer to take place over the intercom during football games or those schools will will be sued.
J.D Simpson, Executive Director of First Priority, a Christian-based organization for students in schools, said Friday that organized prayer in school is against the law, but everyone still has freedom of speech.
“You can take away the microphone, but you can’t take away our mouth. We still have the freedom of speech,” said Simpson.
Umm… yes. That’s exactly right. We can take away the microphone… and you still have freedom of speech.
So it looks like everyone is on the same page… right?
Of course not.
Jim Burnett, Senior Pastor at Willow Pointe Church in Oak Grove, along with several other pastors have told their congregations to recite the Lord’s Prayer during that time.
Burnett said, “Simply be led by God; if you feel led to pray at that time, pray for the athletes, their safety, and for our country.”
“It’s very unsettling for society to make such threats and push God out of what He created,” said Burnett. “We are running a spiritual fever. We are sick. We are just morally getting farther and farther away from were we started.”
Jeff Floyd, Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, said he agrees.
Floyd said, “I think it is wrong for any group to come in and threaten to sue an individual when all they are doing is exercising their First Amendment Rights.”
Floyd’s wrong. A school-sponsored prayer (even if it’s student led) over the intercom isn’t free speech. That’s endorsement and the Supreme Court said so in 2000.
Not every legal issue is clear-cut. Sometimes, it could go either way depending on which side you listen to. In this case, the facts are clear. If there’s any indication of school-sponsorship of prayers, whether it’s led by a coach or spoken by a student over a public address system, it’s illegal and a lawsuit is forthcoming.
Just pray on your own. It’s that simple.
(Thanks to Neil for the link!)