Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keep Praying Gate City

This sign is displayed in response to an event that occurred last month at a football game at Gate City High School. Before the game began on September 11, a prayer was delivered by a student member of the school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes during a ceremony that included a moment of silence for a Sullivan South (opposing team) football player who died earlier in the season and a remembrance of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This prayer resulted in Gate City High School receiving a letter from the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. In the letter, the ACLU informed the school that it believed the prayer was unconstitutional and asked for the practice to cease immediately. According to Rebecca Glenberg, Legal Director for the ACLU of Virginia, the ACLU and the person who filed the complaint did not object in any way to the memorial services, just the prayer. Glenberg wrote in her letter, "After a moment of silence to honor a deceased football player (to which we have no objection), the student delivered a prayer which concluded in, 'In Jesus' name, Amen'."

"We were just trying to reach out and honor (Sullivan South)," school principal Greg Ervin said. "This was a special case - we wanted to honor our neighboring community and the memory of 9/11, and I was proud of my students for doing so."

The students reacted to the letter by producing more than 1,000 T-shirts, which they planned to wear to a later game. The front of the T-shirts shows the school's initials, a cross, and the words, "I still pray..." On the back is, "In Jesus' name." The ACLU of Virginia's Executive Director Kent Willis asked the principal at Gate City High School to honor the free speech rights of students to protest the ACLU at the school's football game. He said, "This means that Gate City High School officials may not permit sectarian prayers over the public address sytem at football games, but that they must allow students to protest the ACLU's effort to stop those prayers." Willis further stated that free speech demands that the government allow individuals to express their views.

Excuse me - I thought the student was exercising her right to free speech on September 11.

Freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. The United States Constitution, Amendment 1 states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Pat Robertson explains it thusly: "In the days of the Constitution, an established religion meant just what my forefathers fought about in Virginia. An established religion was a religion where the state paid the clergy and where there were civil liabilities to those who did not belong to that religion; where such things as marriages could only be performed with a blessing of a particular church; where, unless a person was a member thereof, he or she was denied the right to hold public office, etc. That's an established religion." He continues, "But in no way would that have been considered by the framers of our Constitution to prohibit a child from saying grace in the first grade or kindergarten over milk and cookies."

When a Wall Street Journal / NBC News poll conducted October 22-25 asked Americans if they believed the United States was on the right track, wrong track, in mixed conditions or undecided, 52% responded that the country is headed down the wrong road. Really? Well, if you're waiting for somebody to do something about it, remember YOU ARE SOMEBODY.

Snap out of it, America!


  1. Great Blog! I agree 100%
    It's time Patriots started taking stands against the bullying ACLU lawyers and their toadies.
    The Country won't last long laying down on these issues.

  2. The student was serving as a representative of the school by presenting in an official capacity at an official function. As such, the student should have avoided any *specific* religion or family of religions.

    Another perspective: If the student had closed with a phrase from some other religion, what would have happened? Would the student have been persecuted by his/her peers? Would the reference to other religions have been viewed as an endorsement by the school? You bet. The school would be expected to take some action even if the student was following his/her family's beliefs.

    It's not about expression of religion, it's about endorsement of *one* religion (or family) in an educational setting. That runs the risk of overriding parents on religion and is a path that should be avoided.

    Remember that the House and Senate both open with prayers each day. Both have chaplains. The difference is that these are not *educational* establishments.