Jesus Doesn't Belong at Public High School Football Games

football players prayingAs a holy-rollin' NFL player, Tim Tebow can pray by himself to his heart's content. But when it comes to what a public high school subjects all of its spectators to, that's a whole different, well, football game. And it's the issue at hand right now in Alabama, where a national nontheism organization, Freedom from Religion Foundation, has filed a complaint about Brooks High School, a public high school that endorses players invoking the name of Jesus during high school football games. They say it is an inappropriate time and place for sectarian prayer, and it violates the Constitution.

Of course, there are many residents in the town of Killen who are offended by the complaint. They even gathered last night to pray about the complaint, and some see it as an "attack on Christianity." But it's no such thing.

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The complaint was filed by a resident named Jeremy Green, who explained:

I would never try to take away anyone's right to pray, and I will continue to support the religious freedom of everyone, but there are certain times and places where sectarian prayer is inappropriate. Student or faculty led prayer, when endorsed by or sponsored by a public school, is unconstitutional and illegal for good reason. This protects the rights of the members of all religions, and the non-religious alike.

YES, oh how his last line nails it!

See, although an atheist may be the one who filed a complaint, this is not a specifically atheist issue at all; it is an American one. I'm SURE the founding fathers -- who came across the pond to escape religion being shoved down their throats -- would not have been too keen on public, government-funded institutions forcing religious beliefs on a community. Just how is someone who is atheist, or Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc., supposed to feel when their high school endorses Christian-only prayer?

Allowing a moment of silence is one thing. That would be completely fine and definitely secular, as far as I'm concerned. That's probably what this community ought to opt for. But requiring the high school community to participate in overtly Christian prayers that name-check Jesus should be completely out of the question. Upholding separation of church and state isn't just a safeguard for atheists or non-Christians. Like Green said, it protects us all.

How do you feel about religious prayer at public high school football games?

 

Image via John Martinez Pavliga/Flickr

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