Thanks to a blog post by a skeptic in a nearby city who goes by the pseudonym Rev. El Mundo, I heard about a school district fairly close by where they used to have prayers, this time before school athletic events. Of course, they had to have known that such prayers are unconstitutional but school administrators tend to pander to the needs of the local community and hope no one notices that they are violating the constitution. They only stopped when they received a letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation to stop the prayers or face a legal challenge.
Some students, no doubt egged on by their parents, are aggrieved that they cannot shove their religion in the faces of everyone who attends those events and they decided to protest by wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Prayer Matters” on the front. El Mundo says that the local newspaper the Youngstown Vindicator is a shameless promoter of religion, finding any reason to promote religion and have given the prayer backers quite a bit of coverage
The issue “matters to them, and matters in general,” said West Branch parent Kristen Dwaine Everett. “When you start taking away traditions, it gets people riled up.”
Ah, yes, traditions! The last defense of the indefensible. The mind boggles at the number of abominations that would still be with us if we preserved them purely because they were traditions.
But what struck me was this comment by the parent quoted above that shows how clueless they sound when trying to defend the practice of prayer.
Everett said the issue isn’t about religion, it’s about taking things students care about away from them.
“It just matters to them,” she said. “Out here we have really high suicide rates in area schools and we have those schools reach out to us and say, ‘Please pray for us, we need your prayers at this time,’ and when we take that away from [students] – that opportunity to be there for each other and pray for each other and watch out for each other – it’s just hard to have someone say, ‘Hey, you can’t.’”
Doesn’t Everett realize that she is admitting that they had these high suicide rates despite praying all the time and whenever one occurs? It hasn’t worked, has it? Maybe it is time to try living without prayer to see if the rate drops. Besides, no one is saying that you cannot pray at a funeral or other private occasion where people are grieving. What has that got to do with praying before a football game?
This news report from two days ago provides an update on the controversy.
Some West Branch Schools students say their academic environment has become tense after the district curtailed prayer before athletic events in January.
“It’s kind of like a civil war,” said senior student Mikayla Barker. “Some students are against [praying at school] and a majority are for it. The tension at school is at an all-time high for everyone.”
Students say they can feel the divide.
“Lately it’s been [said] ‘Don’t come to the games then if you don’t want to pray’ or ‘The majority of the school is Christian, so we’re not changing for you,’” Barker said.
This pressure is coming from social media harassment and even members of some sports teams, Barker maintained.
“The most common thing that’s being said is that if we can find our way in the door to come to the games and we don’t like the prayer, we can find our way out,” added fellow senior student Addie Morris.
Superintendent Tim Saxton said he has not been informed of any bullying in the schools tied to the controversy.
There are reports that the religious people are seeking a ‘compromise’, by which they mean, of course, that they be allowed to continue to babble in public. If the school district has halfway decent lawyers, they will advise that if the prayers continue, the district will be sued and will lose.