published Friday, October 22nd, 2010

School prayer ban ignites backlash


by Kelli Gauthier

Praying silently, in secret or off school property won't cut it for a group of vocal protesters upset over this week's ban of public prayer at Hamilton County high school football games.

They have taken their campaign for public prayer to the Internet, with at least two Facebook groups and a Twitter feed. They're selling T-shirts, taking donations and enlisting the help of national religious liberty organizations.

"I don't want to go around the law, I want to go right through it. I want this completely overturned," said 17-year-old Shelton Brown, a Soddy-Daisy High School senior and creator of the Facebook page "Keep Prayer at Soddy Daisy High School."

Following receipt of a letter from the Freedom from Religion Foundation over some Soddy-Daisy students' concerns about prayer before football games and graduation ceremonies, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales banned such prayers.

In a letter sent Tuesday to all local principals, he told them the U.S. Supreme Court had found such prayers to be unconstitutional and that they should stopped immediately.

The decision prompted a community outcry.

"The majority of people are just upset that a tradition in their community is being forced to end by the voice of a few," said Hamilton County resident Dillon Burroughs, creator of the Facebook page "Let Soddy Daisy Pray at Football Games."

Brown said he is waiting to hear back from both the Christian Law Association in Seminole, Fla., and the Alliance Defense Fund in Scottsdale, Ariz., about whether they will take on the case.

Attempts to get comments from the organizations on Thursday were unsuccessful.

SANTA FE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT V. DOE

In a 6-3 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.

LEE V. WEISMAN

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that a prayer delivered by a rabbi at a graduation ceremony also violated the Establishment Clause.

Source: Cornell University Law School

Soddy-Daisy graduate Emily Robinson said she doesn't understand how something that has been going on for years has just now become a problem.

"As the people who complain have a right to their opinion, the people who want to pray have just as much rights to express their beliefs," said the 18-year-old Chattanooga State Community College student. "If it's a prayer to just watch over [the football players] and keep them safe, I don't think it's a big deal."

Red Bank High School graduate Michael Brown said prayer is part of a longstanding tradition.

"I don't know, we're Southern, you know? Most people put God first," he said.

Scales said that, other than individual phone calls and e-mails, neither he nor the Hamilton County Board of Education has been approached formally to change the policy.

"What we've done is just to actually put in place an initiative that the courts have ruled on for many, many years," he said. "But we'll certainly consult with the legal authorities at our disposal, and we'll do what we can to respond to them."

Shelton Brown said he and other protesters plan to collect donations and pray for change at a meeting Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at Veterans Park in Soddy-Daisy.

Continue reading by following these links to related stories:

Article: Soddy-Daisy High to stop prayers over loudspeaker

Article: National group demands end to prayers at Soddy-Daisy High

Article: Prayer at school events silenced

about Kelli Gauthier...

Kelli Gauthier covers K-12 education in Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She started at the paper as an intern in 2006, crisscrossing the region writing feature stories from Pikeville, Tenn., to Lafayette, Ga. She also covered crime and courts before taking over the education beat in 2007. A native of Frederick, Md., Kelli came south to attend Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism. Before newspapers, ...

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CP7768 said...

Why is it so hard for people to understand that this is illegal and unconstitutional? Do they want the school district to under take this litigation, potentially costing millions of dollars? Or perhaps they would rather not have textbooks next year because the district cannot afford them due to the litigation?

October 22, 2010 at 12:24 a.m.
CP7768 said...

Or perhaps this is a sad commentary on how woefully ignorant these students are on the basic tenants of the judicial system thanks to the school district.

October 22, 2010 at 12:38 a.m.
darnellk1 said...

Or possibly our society could take a few lessons from some young people. Those who are so "woefully ignorant", that they decided despite examples set by our perfect judicial system, they would stand up for what they believe in. For once, someone to stand up for what is right, and not fall to the pressures of society to be tolerant of what true ignorance is...... forgetting God and falling to the ways of the world.

October 22, 2010 at 1:15 a.m.
jestamper said...

It's unfortunate that so many people like CP7768 have been woefully miseducated about the very basics of our Constitution and nation's founding. The federal government has no authority whatsoever to regulate religion in ANY way. The only thing the Constitution says about religion is that the federal government may not establish a religion such as the Church of England and the federal government may not restrict the free exercise of religion. States and local governments may do ANYTHING they want with regards to religion. At the time the Constitution was ratified, most states had a state religion. It's incredible to me that a nation that wouldn't exist if it weren't for the pursuit of freedom of religion, has now turned into a place where intolerant hate groups like "Freedom From Relgion" are accepted.

October 22, 2010 at 3:28 a.m.
sharegolf said...

It is important that we all read our Constitution and not just take what you hear to be in the Constitution as fact. The Constitution does not establish a separation of church and state. The First Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..." We have moved so far away from the Constitution and our founding, and we wonder why we have problems in our country today. Too many people want to change the meaning of words to fit their own beliefs and ideals. By not allowing these, or any other, people to pray is prohibiting their free exercise of religion. How can it be seen as anything else?

October 22, 2010 at 6 a.m.
joepulitzer said...

wildman, unless you and your atheist buddies think outside the box (of unbelief), none of you will ever see Him.

October 22, 2010 at 7:24 a.m.
ebenji87 said...

Joe, newsflash... You will never see "Him" either! There is no afterlife with mansions and clouds and pearly gates. Seems if you were trying to start up a religion or following, that would be a great way of selling your story if the people you were selling it to lived in a craphole. Study the origin of religion beginning with Greek and Egyptian mythology. You will find Christianity is not original in the slightest bit and actually plagiarizes most of its' core story from those periods. But us non-believers are the ignorant ones. THINK AGAIN!

October 22, 2010 at 7:42 a.m.
Humphrey said...

"The only thing the Constitution says about religion is that the federal government may not establish a religion such as the Church of England ..."

But when you use tax dollars (going to the public school) to have religious ceremonies on public equipment on property and at an event that is sponsored by the government, then the government IS establishing a religion.

This is not an anti-Christian issue (Christians have different views on how to pray). This is a freedom issue. We all are free from the gov. establishing a religion and telling us how to pray.

The first amendment also gives us freedom of speech. There is nothing wrong whatsoever with anyone at that football game praying. Nobody is telling them not to. Any citizen has the right to stand up and yell a prayer to whomever they want (as long as they aren't yelling there's a fire, etc.). The GOVERNMENT does not have that same right of freedom of speech. The speech of the government is limited so as not to impose on EACH OF OUR religious freedom.

If the students want to pray there is nothing stopping them, they just can't make it an official prayer using government resources, because that would equate to the government establishing a religion.

Just because the government is establishing a religion you happen to agree with does not make it OK. Religious freedom benefits all of us. The next time it could be the government endorsing a religion you do not agree with. This is why the separation of church and state is an essential value of our nation and must be defended. It protects the rights of all of us - including those who want the prayer. If they want to keep their own freedom of religion from the government, they must protect EVERYONE's freedom of religion from the government. One person's freedom ends when it intrudes on the rights of others. In this case, the school does not have the right to intrude on individual freedom - just because one agrees with the government this time is no reason to defend the policy, because in another case it could be your rights that are being violated by the government. Those who feel most strongly about their religious views are those that should fight the hardest to protect separation of church and state, so that the government does not establish a "church of England." Sorry pot, but this time you are the kettle - you ARE the "Church of England" in this example. Next time you might not be, and the religion promoted by the government might be one you do not agree with. Protect your own freedoms by protecting everyone's freedoms. You do the opposite by trying to impose your views on them and taking their freedom away.

Again, this has nothing to do with "atheists" or "Christians." This law is not "anti-Christian," as much as some see it that way. This law protects the rights of everyone, including Christians. Try to see the bigger picture.

October 22, 2010 at 8:28 a.m.
dave said...

The real truth is the people of Soddy-Daisy HAVE the right to PRAY where-ever and when-ever they WANT. It can just not be conducted as part of the official school program. However, a two minute silence would allow EVERYONE that wanted to pray OUT LOUD for as long as they liked. I would be most effective if done in unison. AS Christians we were instructed to pray without ceasing so our every word should be a prayer. As for Wildman, egenji87 and CP7768 I will pray that the Lord would open your eyes, not by some reasoning but with something so extraordinary that you cannot deny his existence.

October 22, 2010 at 8:34 a.m.
jestamper said...

Wildman, your comments are a recipe for complete loss of liberty, which is precisely what is happening. First of all, the federal govt has vastly exceeded its constitutional role in virtually every area. There is no constitutional authority for the feds to be involved in education. The Dept of Education is completely unconstitutional. Federal tax dollars going to education are unconstitutional. Even if they were constitutional, the concept that because somebody is receiving federal tax dollars makes them a slave to the federal government is repugnant. Currently federal tax dollars infiltrate everything, meaning we should all be slaves to whichever party happens to control the federal govt at the moment. Next up, you said TN tax dollars were going to schools so there couldn't be prayer. WRONG! The only people in Tennessee who are permitted to decide what is taught in TN schools are Tennesseans. Under the U.S. Constitution, if we wanted to establish a religion in Tennessee and require it be taught in all public schools we could - or if we wanted to ban religion we could. Finally, if you would wake up and see that the states have all the power under our U.S. Constitution then you could actually have some states passing agendas that you like, which are no doubt gay marriage, shutting down power plants, and selling pot. Because people like you want to control everybody in the country, you have also given away your state's right to pass its own laws.

October 22, 2010 at 8:34 a.m.
enufisenuf said...

It is amazing to me that the brainwashing imposed on christians allows them to judge others who do not support their cult worship yet they themselves feel thay should not be judged, especially by the ones who find their money and power driven religion a farce.

The bible, if you relly believe it says Judge not lest you be judges, try talking about that on sunday. Oh yea, that would be like a bunch of cops sitting around impressing each other about how much they are concerned for the safety of the public. Its both a bunch of BS by hipocrites.

Prayer has no place in school, they need to recall how to teach kids instead of be paranoid bullies.

October 22, 2010 at 8:42 a.m.
jestamper said...

Sorry, Humphrey. Again, local organizations, governments, and states can do whatever they want, it is the federal government that cannot establish a religion, and that really means ESTABLISH a religion, not just endorsing or supporting or practicing an already established religion.

Your point of view does not protect anybody's freedom of religion - just the opposite. You are arguing to squelch that school's and community's practice of religion. And in return whose religious freedom are you rescuing? Nobody's because listening to a prayer or learning about a religion doesn't prohibit anybody from practicing a religion. There is no freedom from being offended or uncomfortable.

You also keep mentioning "the law" that prevents schools from having public prayer. Can you please point me to that law? If it is a Tennessee law, I will actually agree with your point but still fight to change it. If it is a federal law it is void because the feds can't pass a law prohibiting the free expression of religion.

October 22, 2010 at 8:56 a.m.
olebroad said...

OK, if we are going to make this a "free speech" thing, then would the Soddy Daisy folks be willing to allow prayers of different religions before games? Would they allow Muslim or Jewish prayers before the game if someone requested it? I doubt it. I am a Christian, but I also respect when others believe differently that I do. We have to remember that our country is getting more and more dynamic. What are we going to do one day when we Christians are outnumbered? I am sure we wouldn't want the "majority rules" prayers to go on in public venues then. And seriously, I agree that Dr. Scales should just back down and not waste our tax dollars on this. If the parents at Soddy want to fight it to the Supreme Court, let them use their own money and not our tax dollars. I doubt they feel that strongly about it though. I went to public school and I remember having a "moment of silence" over the intercom each day. That seems to be the most sensible solution before the games as well. We have this real issue in Chattanooga where people want their kids to get a Christian education in a tax funded environment. Again, if it's that important to you people, pay for your kids to go to a private Christian school!!!!

October 22, 2010 at 9:02 a.m.
synoge said...

What if a group of Muslims or Satanists wanted to have equal time to have a prayer before a game and wanted to use the loud speaker to do so.....how would that work out?

October 22, 2010 at 9:09 a.m.
Allypalally said...

Why not just have a moment of silence instead of actual prayer? Prayer in public schools, as far as I'm concerned, is unconstitutional and the Supreme Court has agreed with this time and time again. Furthermore, all my fellow Christians can have their prayer but what about the other denominations? Either every religion must be represented or no religion must be represented. That's why I'm in favor of a moment of silence. That should be good enough to satisfy everyone spiritually and religiously, and is fair enough to encompass all faiths.

October 22, 2010 at 9:10 a.m.
HiDef said...

Ok jestamper I will assume you support prayers being said over the PA system. Which prayer, which god and who gets to do it?

Why is it that Christians are only concerned with freedom of religion when it pertains to their religion? There are instances all around the U.S. right now where Muslims are being single-out and the ones yelling the loudest in opposition to them are "Christians".

October 22, 2010 at 9:10 a.m.
Humphrey said...

"Sorry, Humphrey. Again, local organizations, governments, and states can do whatever they want, it is the federal government that cannot establish a religion..."

You are really trying to rationalize this, but not to split hairs with you the answer is very simple. First, the establishment clause has been found to apply to all levels of government, but besides that, face it - federal dollars go straight in to education through a variety of avenues (you may remember that the state got the "race to the top" funding, there are many other avenues). The state of Tennessee gets more back in Federal dollars than we pay in Federal taxes. The government establishes a religion when they promote any existing flavor of a religion. In your Church of England example, Henry the VIII didn't just plop that idea out of nowhere; there was an existing church in England that was separated from the papacy - you really aren't even internally consistent. Please think this through - right now you are grasping at straws and thinking in circles. The "LAW" that you are asking about is established by the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution. That's kind of how it works. You are a part of America.

October 22, 2010 at 9:12 a.m.
ebenji87 said...

I am TOTALLY for having a moment of silence before the game. I am even for the players huddling and saying a prayer. But what we are saying is do NOT grab the PA mic and start blaring it over the speakers for everyone to hear, whether they want to or not. That is the part that is unconstitutional. I don't have a problem with you praying, I just don't want to hear it. Especially when it's at a public school function. I keep hearing the argument that "oh, it's tradition!". Well, so what. There are a lot of things that were and still are traditions that need to change. Now who's unreasonable?

October 22, 2010 at 9:32 a.m.
Skeptic101 said...

I see we have the Bible cherry pickers working on the US Constitution now. I believe our founding fathers were lead and inspired by God. Most of us "get" what they and the One that inspired them meant. As for me, prayer is a highly personal thing. Using the venue of a sporting event to show off your religiosity is for show. You want to show everyone you're a Christian? Help an opposing team member up, show him a smile.

Please don't insult those who fought and died for our freedoms by insisting on the "right" to use my game field to shove your prayer down my throat.

BTW, is it just me, or does anybody else get creeped out by people asking God to fix a game or race, or thanking God for fixing a game or race?

October 22, 2010 at 9:33 a.m.
ebenji87 said...

Skeptic, that is EXACTLY what I've been saying all along. Why would you even want to pray for victory at a football game? If god does exist, that seems like such a selfish misuse of prayer time in my opinion. And when both teams are praying, who is god supposed to listen to? MAKES NO SENSE. Alas, this is why attempting to reason with a Christian is futile.

October 22, 2010 at 9:44 a.m.
lightenin said...

SOOOOOOOOOOOOO WHAT? so what if saying a prayer makes the team feel better....what is the big deal? WHAT is those that gripe about it AFRAID of? What if cheerleading and the "words" of the cheers offends the other team!!!??? Geeeezz, why don't we all grow up and get a life. Some want to argue under the pretense of "rights" and the "constitution" when these people have no real idea what their constitutional rights are! ... it seems we are to the point of being unconstitutional to even teach our "constitution" much less know it well enough to gripe about something as simple as a personal preference of a collection of "words" one calls a prayer. What is the ones that are complaining so AFRAID of? If they don't believe in a God...then it is simply rhetoric...just a collection of words of someone elses.....that makes them feel a little better about life/football game or whatever. Who is REALLY the offensive one? That kind of person offends me...maybe I should sue....HA! Just kidding...I have a real life.

October 22, 2010 at 10:03 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

The naivity and ignorance of history of the young people interviewed in the news story is a good lesson in all this: "We are all Southern, you know? We believe in God, most people put God first" and "I don't want to go around the law, I want to go through it." Yes, let's talk about the glory of the clan protecting our values, God supporting our unwillingness to accommodate or respect other person's beliefs because those persons are simply wrong, making, selling and drinking moonshine and speed, a common activity the counties and cities around Chattanooga where the vocal uproar over this prayer issue is so loud, and the beat goes on...

The only way to get this message of freedom across to these young folks is to invite local Imams to do the prayer in every stadium and all of us all bring our prayer mats so we do it the right way. Then, maybe, just maybe, these pro-public prayer folks will get the idea about why freedom means keeping prayer in your own home, church and heart in day to day charitable living as personal testimony, not shoving it in someone's face as if a football game was a private gathering in one's home.

October 22, 2010 at 10:06 a.m.
LibDem said...

Dr. Scales should have ended this as quietly as possible when he first discovered it. The Supreme Court is the law of the land. We don't always agree but we honor the law.

I doubt this is as much about religion as antigovernment fervor by a few. Intuitively, I think many people are made uncomfortable by ostentatious public displays of what should be a personal experience. The players could, of course, kneel in the locker room if this is indeed a religious activity. Kneeling on the field is a cry for public attention.

Humans are awesome creatures. We are not sheep or cattle. We are capable of independent and original thought. Collectivist ceremonies, praying in unison, prayer leaders, going along to get along are not the common denominators Americans should be seeking nor what we would have our young people learn.

October 22, 2010 at 11:09 a.m.
librul said...

Or maybe we should just get rid of sports completely and try education instead. A little remedial work on the Bill of Rights is obviously in order.

October 22, 2010 at 11:15 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

I pray to the One... the booger that flew out of my nose when I sneezed last month and stuck on the dot above the first "i" in ThinkVision.

This morning He answered my prayer for my car to start. So far so good. ;-)

October 22, 2010 at 11:42 a.m.
HiDef said...

I prayed I wouldn't see a ghost on the ghost tour I took downtown last night. Prayer answered! I just knew praying would work.

October 22, 2010 at 11:52 a.m.
maddawg said...

Its so simple, just pray silently. A prayer does not have to be spoken out loud for God to hear it. The Supreme Court has upheld the Consitution over and over about this issue. This is nothing new. Nobody is taking away your right to pray.

October 22, 2010 at 12:12 p.m.
CharleyHorse said...

This isn't about the freedom to pray. This is about religions demonstrating. Not praying. Anyone can pray at any time. I don't need to hear your prayers. You are not praying to me.

Most likely these ballgame prayers are just the tip of the iceberg. What do you want to bet you will find a ton of religious fliers, wall posters and teachers teaching their students to distrust science in all of the schools in this area? Very likely.

The students and parents need to insist that their schools obey the law and set good citizenship examples.

October 22, 2010 at 12:15 p.m.
CP7768 said...

For those of you who support the continuing of prayer, would you rather have the school district try to litigate this in court? Would you like to have your tax dollars go towards a lawsuit that the school district has no chance of winning? The Constitution debate over the Establishment Clause means nothing in this argument. The Supreme Court has clearly said that events like those that have occurred at Soddy are unconstitutional. Look up the Santa Fe case. The facts between that case and what happened in Soddy are nearly identical. For those above who wished for me to "come to the Lord," how do you know I'm not a Christian? Never make assumptions, they help no one.

October 22, 2010 at 12:20 p.m.
CP7768 said...

Jestamper, The school district receives federal tax dollars thus they are subject to the rules of the federal government. Don't believe me? Continue the prayer and Soddy and watch the hailstorm of lawsuits that are visited upon the school because the Supreme Court of the UNITED STATES has said this is unconstitutional. Just because it's a local government or a local school district does not mean that they are only beholden to local rules.

October 22, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.
pgiles2 said...

I am a Christian and prayer does not have to be said over a loud speaker to be heard by God. We will have enough battles to fight later on that this one should not turn in to such an issue. God does not like a braggert and those who want to pray can still say their own prayers. I do not agree with "religion" wildman as that is a whole other issue that gives good Christians a bad name. I am so sorry that you have obviously been given only bad examples of true Christianity and my prayer for you is to some day see what it is really about and no it is not money. We don't even take up offering at our Chapel. There is a bowl up front for anyone who wants to give and it's used to pay the utilities for the building we use. I pray some day that you too will find God and not "religion."

October 22, 2010 at 12:42 p.m.
Skeptic101 said...

Lightenin, perhaps you're confusing fear with anger. Americans don't fear any people or religion, but if you tread on their freedoms they're going to get angry. I exercise my right to refuse to attend or support your church. I would also exercise my right to stop you from preaching your form of religion in my house. The facility in question was built and is maintained by people of all faiths and non-faiths. You don't have the right to use it to loudly preach your personal form of religion to everyone who was invited there to participate in an athletic game.

October 22, 2010 at 12:44 p.m.
nurseforjustice said...

I am no constitutionalist so I will ask for some help. I do not find anywhere in the constitution or amendments that allow for the judicial branch of government to "make law". That is the role of Congress, if I remember correctly. Can someone show me where that is in the constitution? I know we are used to the SCOTUS making law but I do not see it as constitutional or even a good thing.

If what I see is true, then the very law made 10 years ago is unconstitutional from the very start.

October 22, 2010 at 12:46 p.m.
Humphrey said...

the courts interpret the law. Again, it isn't that complicated. The constitution is the law. Some here want to interpret the constitution in a way that is not consistent with how the judicial system has established the law is to be interpreted.

The law wasn't "made" 10 years ago. The supreme court ruled on the law 10 years ago.

October 22, 2010 at 12:52 p.m.
CP7768 said...

Nurse for Justice, The legislative branch does not have the ability to spell out how the law should be applied in every situation. Where there is a grey area, it is up to the court to decide how the matter should be taken care of. When they do this, it effectively becomes law unless the legislature passes more laws to cover the subject area addressed by the courts. This has been a constitutional practice since the republic was created. There was no law made with the Santa Fe decision a decade ago. It is a basic rule for lower courts to follow. Which is exactly why the school district will lose if they take this to court.

October 22, 2010 at 12:53 p.m.
realityrox said...

The SCOTUS do not creat laws... it interprets the laws that are already on the books.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/our-government/judicial-branch

October 22, 2010 at 12:58 p.m.
nurseforjustice said...

So there is no literal law stating that praying at football games on public school property is illegal? It is only the interpretation of the constitution that has made this "ILLEGAL"? (Again I state I am no expert in this matter but these are only the way I see things.)

So then it is feasible that this could be overturned given the right people on the SCOTUS?

If that is the case, then it may well be worth the fight IMO. The Christian Law Association and the Alliance Defense Fund both operate by donations from private funds so this would really not cost the taxpayers anything.

And Humphrey, If it wasn't that complicated then there would not be such a fuss now would there. When you say stuff like that you come across as very pompas and arrogant.

October 22, 2010 at 1:35 p.m.
CP7768 said...

Nurse for Justice, The landscape of the SCOTUS has not changed much since the Santa Fe decision. The swing votes in the Santa Fe decision are still on the court and went against prayer in the original case. Unless the court finds something incredibly wrong (e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson's "separate but equal" overturned by Brown v. Board of Education) or that the entire legal community has shifted on this issue, they are beholden by stare decisis to uphold their previous decision. There is no point in putting the school board through so much effort and time (this could take over a decade if it even got to the SCOTUS, which is unlikely), that it is not worth it in the end analysis, even if they are represented by a third party. Soddy can have a moment of silence or they could just not announce it over a loud speaker. The solutions to this problem are easy. Trying to fight it is extremely difficult and likely to result in failure.

October 22, 2010 at 1:51 p.m.
realityrox said...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.. Congress passes funding for public schools.. public schools are to be secular, giving no special priviledges to one religion or another.

If the football teams were privately funded school teams playing on a private school funded fields where no federal or state funds have ever been used on equipment.. they can pray every time they huddle.. pat each other on the butt.. bump heads.. or whatever they feel like doing.. I'm sure in some schools especially in the shower if it's religious school and they don't want a church elder choosing them...

That's the difference between public schools and private schools.

Private schools can teach all the hate and condemnation they want.

October 22, 2010 at 1:54 p.m.
esaletnik said...

What if there was no first amendment and the founding fathers neglected to foresee a need for the separation of church and state. Can you imagine what life at Soddy Daisy High School would be like for a student who was not brought up in the Christian faith? The Christian majority would allow prayers before lunch, prayers before each class, and mandatory bible study. Religious overtones would permeate every aspect of school life. And you dare not complain because they are the majority and they will run their schools as they see fit. But the first amendment is there and a line has to be drawn somewhere. That line is drawn at religious activities that are conducted where there is a captive audience where some in the audience may not subscribe to those religious beliefs. If you want to see a school where there is no separation of church and state, you might want to look to Iran. Different religion same result.

October 22, 2010 at 1:57 p.m.
nurseforjustice said...

CP7768, Thanks for your insight and opinion. It really is greatly appreciated. My simple mind does not see praying publicly on school property as establishing a religion for the state. So (in my simple mind) I see this as a violation of the rights to those that want the prayer said. I think it was Musicman on another thread that said he agreed with the present position even tho he is a Christian. I can see both sides but as a Christian, I would like to see the prayers continued. NOT for a specific team to win but for safety and good sportmanship. (I know there are many here that don't believe that does any good, and for you it does not). And before anyone says the tired arguement of allowing other religions to pray, YES I would be in favor or allowing other religions to pray publicly. To deny them would be a violation of their rights. That IS plain.

I guess that is why I am a nurse and not a lawyer.

October 22, 2010 at 2:14 p.m.
Moose said...

Wildman, I have a couple of questions since you know so much about the world and its origins. I'm assuming you believe we came from monkeys, but you may believe we came from some kind of fish like some other brilliant scientists have determined. Let's proceed based off the monkey theory. If we came from monkeys and "evolved", why are monkeys still around? Why have no more monkeys evolved into people since man has been keeping records (around 5,000 years)? Why can we not find any fossils/skeletons of monkey people? We find dinosaur remains that are supposedly millions of years old, but no half man-half monkey (or fish) has been found. Don't you find it odd the experts that have dated these dinosaurs can't even tell whether a guy who died on Lookout Mtn last year had been dead for 6 months or 1 year, but somehow they know the dinosaur they found has been dead at least 3 million years? What's sad is you probably also believe people have evolved because now we only shoot people with guns to kill them in lieu of torturing them. But wait, that only occurs in this country, because if you read any history book or talk to any current soldier, they will inform you that humans all over the world still kill just as savagely as they did 4,000 years ago. If we are evolving, why can't high school kids do basic math in their heads any more? Why do we still fall for the same lies from our government that the Germans, etc. fell for ("Yes we can" ring a bell)? We have all of this historical information available to us via the internet and books, and yet we can't prevent wars, prevent government abuse of power, or simply live by the concept of we can't spend more than we make. Just because we have expanded the technology that our forefathers developed does not mean we have evolved. Just because we have some medicines that work (lawyers advertise every day and make a living off many of these wonder drugs our brilliant scientists have created that it turns out actually kill us), doesn't mean we have evolved. It is funny that you will take the word of a guy who went to college for 4 years over the Creator of the Universe. Speaking of, how did the universe come to exist? Let me guess, a big explosion happened and miraculously one planet came out of the blast. Then, miraculously, life happened only here. Who caused these miracles? Even a non-believer has to be believe something created the universe and these miracles. I'm sure you can explain it based off a text book that has been revised every year for the last century by the experts of their day.

October 22, 2010 at 2:38 p.m.
Moose said...

Now to address the slandering of Christianity. First of all, turn the page and you will find the New Testament. Since we (yes, that includes me) could not even keep those 10 simple rules, God sent his Son to die for you and me so that even though we couldn't live up to those minimum standards, we could one day live with Him in Heaven. He loves you so much, he would have done it just for you Wildman. All he asks in return is that you love Him and your neighbors (everyone, not just family and friends). Not much to ask. As for the money issue that all non-believers get hung up on, it is simply to support the operation of the churches He uses to bring people to him. Without money, you can't build or operate a church, send people on mission trips, etc. But, giving money does not get you into Heaven. Come to church with me, don't give a dime, and you can learn all of this. Or just pick up a Bible and read the Gospel. I don't know why you hate Christians, nor is it relevant. In the end, you will answer to God as will we all. This is not a judgement, but a fact. I would love to help you prepare for that moment and I will never ask you for money or to do anything other than profess your faith (that part isn't really me asking). God bless you Wildman and I truly pray that one day you will "see". God is patient so don't feel pressured.

October 22, 2010 at 2:39 p.m.
nurseforjustice said...

Very nicely put Moose.

October 22, 2010 at 2:48 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Moose, I don't think I've seen such a concentration of misconceptions concerning biology, geology or cosmology as I read in your 2:38 post. Wow, you hit on almost every old canard that has been floating around for the last 50 years.

October 22, 2010 at 2:59 p.m.

Dr. Scales couldn't have done this quietly even if he had wanted to... Once the email had gotten to the principles they would have leaked it somehow. Face it we are in the bible belt, and the bible thumpers are going to raise hell until they are blue in the face. Look the way I see it is there is more than one way to the divine, and we all need to try to understand each other. Do I agree with prayer at a public school? No... Like it has been said you are on property that is government owned, and this would be supporting one religion. As far as we know the student(s) that brought this whole thing around might have been christian themselves. Sorry to tell you, but not all christian(s) believe they have to show off their religion in public. I do feel everyone has the right to express their religion in some form, but you don't have to run around praying for those that don't believe what you do. To be honest I don't want you to waste your time... I have my faith, it may not be yours, but that is part of what makes me an individual. I may wear a pentacle around my neck, but unless you ask me what it means or you call it a Star of David I will not go into detail about it or my religion. I am very proud of my Faith, just like the christains are, but I also understand that not everyone understands it. All I wish that would happen is people would understand that this isn't a full out ban on prayer. It is a ban on prayer at a public event that is on government property... Sorry but people of other faiths like sports just as much as you all do, and they have the same rights to attend the events without having to miss a part of the game or feeling uncomfortable because they have to listen to the prayers of others. I wouldn't be surprised if someone did ignore the law tonight and started a prayer over the loud speakers, and if they do I really wounder if someone is going to be brave enough to complain to the police. Or even without the loud speaker. The first "Our Heavenly Father..." that comes out of someone's mouth out loud would be grounds for the person's arrest. Or am I misunderstanding this? I mean to be honest yeah go ahead and pray tonight at the games, but be warned you may end up with some silver cuffs around your hands... If so, I think this is getting out of hand. Soon instead of rival teams beating each other up we will have rival religions beating one another up. Then it becomes hate crimes, and we have enough issues in this world to worry about with out that crap...

October 22, 2010 at 3:14 p.m.
Abe said...

Whatever happened to common courtesy? Why try to inflict your prayers on others?

Is it really that hard to understand that prayer isn't outlawed, but school-sponsored prayer is?

October 22, 2010 at 4:41 p.m.
Humphrey said...

And Humphrey, If it wasn't that complicated then there would not be such a fuss now would there. When you say stuff like that you come across as very pompas and arrogant. Username: nurseforjustice

I'm sorry Nurseforjustice I don't want to sound rude, it just doesn't seem that complicated to me. It comes down to a simple question, do you think the government can tell us how to pray or not?

October 22, 2010 at 5:35 p.m.
rolando said...

Pretend they are Muslims demanding a separate place in our schools and workplaces to hold their 5 times a day prayers.

Oh, wait...you don't have to pretend. It is already happening. Without complaint from the Anti-Christian Lawyers Unrestrained [ACLU], the Freedom from Religion halfwits, or any other anti-christian outfit.

But Muslims shoot back, don't they. Maybe they are on to something..... Maybe they have a duty to do that -- just as we do.

October 22, 2010 at 5:51 p.m.
rolando said...

VERY good point on your 3:26 post, wildman.

Send a copy of that to lkeithlu on this forum, will you?

October 22, 2010 at 5:54 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

Ahhh, the science and ACLU expert is back. Perhaps you have some wisdom to share?

October 22, 2010 at 6:02 p.m.
ledotter said...

Three questions:

  1. WHY do Christians want to encourage public prayer, especially during governmental meetings, in public schools, etc. when their own scriptures state, as a direct quote from Jesus, in Matthew 6:5:? “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. 7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words." Are they embracing "hypocrisy" or declaring themselves as "heathen"??

  2. Why do Christians not follow Christ’s “second greatest commandment in Mark 12:31? “The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' " and again in Luke6: 31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” AND Matthew 7:12 “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.”

Do they want (and welcome) non-believers, Wiccans, Muslims, or Pastifarians to denigrate and disparage Christian beliefs, life style choices and ethics as Christians do to others??

  1. Why do Christians believe that being “in the majority” gives them the right to integrate their religion into our government and deny equal rights to those in the minority when T Jefferson wrote: "The majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." --Thomas Jefferson 1816.

Are they trying to bring down our republic??

I would really like to know the answers and, since Christians’ so often claim to have them all, maybe I’ll get one or two?

October 22, 2010 at 6:16 p.m.
lkeithlu said...

I guess I should have been more clear. Provide sources for: "Pretend they are Muslims demanding a separate place in our schools and workplaces to hold their 5 times a day prayers.

Oh, wait...you don't have to pretend. It is already happening. Without complaint from the Anti-Christian Lawyers Unrestrained [ACLU], the Freedom from Religion halfwits, or any other anti-christian outfit." I have tried google, and other than a request for prisoners to be able to pray together, I can find nothing. Enlighten me. (I know the science already, and you have shown no ability to discuss it intelligently, so let's focus on the ACLU, shall we?)

October 22, 2010 at 6:19 p.m.
stephen001 said...

How can anyone think it is unconstituional to have prayer in schools? I think its down right sorry not to have it,,PUT GOD FIRST,,and that is why this country is falling apart today,,too many people are wanting to forget God,I say let the students pray before during and after their games,,and pray LOUD and clear for everyone to hear them.

October 22, 2010 at 7:07 p.m.
Humphrey said...

Stephen any student can pray anytime they want to, and that certainly includes before or after a game. They can pray quiet, they can pray loud. Whatever. They have freedom of speech that allows them to pray anyway and to anyone they wish. Nobody is saying they don't. Nobody. The point is that the government, in this case represented by a school, can not establish a religion, in this case represented by leading them in a certain type of prayer. The irony is that if the government is allowed to tell them how to pray, they would no longer have that individual freedom to pray how they wish.

October 22, 2010 at 7:27 p.m.
ebenji87 said...

Wow... there are really still people on here arguing and trying to say that prayer has been "banned", etc. It has NOT been banned, you religious folk can still pray all over school property until you are BLUE IN THE FACE! You just can't hop on the PA system and broadcast it! Why is that bad? How are your rights being taken away by this? Why are your rights better than mine when I don't want to hear your useless prayer? Throw your kids in a private Christian school if you want them to be uber-brainwashed. Oh wait... that's right, you can't afford it. Or you're just too busy trying to turn public schools into religious ones. Who knows.

October 22, 2010 at 8:06 p.m.
ebenji87 said...

Oh and I just noticed the story about a local 8-year old boy being hit by a church bus. The driver didn't even care enough to call 911. Where were your prayers at on that one?

October 22, 2010 at 8:10 p.m.
Skeptic101 said...

I'm surprised the principal of a school doesn't know this, but yes, we are given freedom from religion by the US Constitution. And no, you can't legally use a public event at a public facility to preach your politics either.

Thanks to Wildman for bringing the UM-D foot washing stations to our attention. In their defense (Lord knows they need one) they are not for Muslims only. Even Christians practice foot washing, just not in public places (I beg of you, don't).

Please answer me this. If a Pagan teacher, coach, principle, public address announcer, whatever, wants to lead your child in their version of a prayer, are you okay with that? Personally, I wish one would try that at the next school game. I doubt they would be able to finish, but at least it might wake up our Christian zealots to what they are asking for.

To the students (remember the students?) who decided to put good citizenship into practice, good for you! Your simple act created all this rich dialog, most of it sincere, intelligent and thought provoking. You have given me renewed faith in your generation. Is this a great country or what?

October 22, 2010 at 8:24 p.m.
ann said...

this is so stupid,back about 25 years ago such junk as this would not even be up for debate,it's because all these other countries and their religions that has caused a lot of these problem and now we also have all these saying they dont belive in God,well thats fine but for those of us who do then we have the right to pray where ever when ever we want just like you can go out if you don't want to hear it

October 22, 2010 at 9:11 p.m.
Humphrey said...

"now we also have all these saying they dont belive in God,well thats fine but for those of us who do then we have the right to pray where ever when ever we want just like you can go out if you don't want to hear it"

Yes, you do! Exactly! You have freedom of speech. The government does not, and the government does not have the right to establish a religion. So go ahead, pray where ever and whenever you want, its a free country, baby. Just don't expect the government to be free to impose it on everyone.

October 22, 2010 at 10:08 p.m.
Skeptic101 said...

Ann, I must assume you're okay with a Pagan ritual before the next game. They "believe in God", a few gods actually. I'll bet the stands would be packed for that one! After they thrashed the Pagans, I wonder how many "Christians" would hang around for the game.

Ann, I'm having some fun at your expense. Not very Christ like I'm afraid. Please, think about it. Be careful what you ask for.

October 22, 2010 at 10:40 p.m.
hcirehttae said...

What was it Jesus said about praying? Go out into the streets in public and pray as loud as you can so as many people can hear you as possible, as that's the only way you'll get through to your Father in heaven?

October 22, 2010 at 10:49 p.m.
ebenji87 said...

Wildman, I guess Soddy Daisy wasn't saying their prayers loud enough! Maybe god didn't hear them since they weren't allowed to use the PA system.

October 22, 2010 at 11:09 p.m.
ebenji87 said...

hcirehttae, do you have a scripture chapter and verse on that passage because I don't remember being in the bible at all. Back up what you are stating other than just putting words in Jesus' mouth.

October 22, 2010 at 11:12 p.m.
Skeptic101 said...

Oh my. Ebenji87, it's late. I think Hcirehttae is (I hope) joking. Go back up to 6:16pm.

October 22, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.
edwords said...

The law trumps "tradition"!

Go to a Bible Academy, OR pray in the grandstand,

out loud, to your heart's content.

October 22, 2010 at 11:47 p.m.
ebenji87 said...

I was hoping he or she was joking, but you never know with the arguments these people come up with. :/ And well said, Edwords!!

October 23, 2010 at 12:01 a.m.
FMyers13 said...

To all the logical, free thinking, educated people that are trying to shed some light to the others who refuse to see any way but their own - Thank you. You all have really helped me understand how exactly the Constitution works, because I will be honest, I was a little fuzzy on the details (I'm only 24, give me time, I'm still learning!).

I would also like to say that no matter how many times you stress it, some people will never get it. BUT - I honestly hope each of you can feel better that you did help educate at least one person in Chattanooga throughout the day. Thanks again!!

October 23, 2010 at 12:45 a.m.
anniebelle said...

What was it Jesus said about praying? Go out into the streets in public and pray as loud as you can so as many people can hear you as possible, as that's the only way you'll get through to your Father in heaven? Username: hcirehttae | On: October 22, 2010 at 10:49 p.m

Typical fake, lying Xtian -- this is what Jesus had to say about hypocrits such as yourself, hcirehttae --

Matthew 6:5-7

  1. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites [are]: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

Jesus says you must definitely not pray as the hypocrites pray.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen [do]: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Do any of you fake Xtians ever even read this fantasy book anymore -- I don't think so.

October 23, 2010 at 6:19 a.m.

Skeptic, I am unsure if you are pagan, but one thing is that most Wiccan's or pagans which ever term they chose to utilize to describe themselves don't actually worship several Gods or Goddesses at one time. Most do actually pick a representation of the God and the Goddess, and dedicate themselves to the worship and study of him/her. Sometimes yes we may pick to request assistance from a different "face" or representation, but we don't actually have more than one God or Goddess at one time. Yes we do see that they have different faces or names, but we believe no matter whom we call them we are actually talking to the same Deity. We are just calling upon the different qualities of that name. Confusing I know, but it made since to me LOL.

October 23, 2010 at 6:55 p.m.
who922 said...

This makes me even happier that we always open our games at the Christian school with a prayer. It doesn't matter that we play in the public school league and it doesn't matter if the school we are playing is a public school. The players usually pray with our players after the game as well. No government nonsense to deal with!!! Also don't have to deal with 2 or 3 fussy people out of the hundreds or thousands that don't have a problem with it! Sweet!

October 26, 2010 at 5:51 p.m.
who922 said...

The United States has fallen into a serious problem of catering to the minority rather than the majority...and just because 15% of Americans are non-theists doesn't mean that 15% percent have a problem with it. Thus, "2 or 3 fussy people."

I challenge you to read the Constitution. Nowhere....not one place, will you ever find the words, "separation of church and state." They're just not there. It's a made up phrase by objectionists!

October 27, 2010 at 10:26 a.m.
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