published Saturday, October 23rd, 2010

Students pray before game

by Jessie Gable
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    Staff Photo by Gene Henley/Chattanooga Times Free Press Soddy-Daisy players are joined by fans for on-field prayer before their football game Friday night.

Scores of fans and students joined Soddy-Daisy and Rhea County high school football players for a pregame prayer on the 50-yard line of the Rhea County stadium Friday night.

School board member Rhonda Thurman, who was not at the game, said she is proud of the students.

"I think that's wonderful," Thurman said. "I think that's their absolute right and praise God."

Loudspeaker prayers before football games at Hamilton County Schools were banned this week after a national organization admonished Hamilton County Schools administrators to ban the practice when some Soddy-Daisy students complained.

On Tuesday, Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Jim Scales banned the prayers in an e-mail, citing U.S. Supreme Court rulings that such prayers are unconstitutional.

Bimbo McCawley, a Rhea County School Board member, said the prayer was a way to show Scales they understood his between-a-rock-and-hard-place position.

"We live in the buckle of the Bible belt," McCawley said. "People in the community adhere to the beliefs. We did this out of respect for Dr. Scales because we realize he had no choice."

Danielle Clark, spokeswoman for Hamilton County Schools, could not be reached for comment Friday night.

Facebook groups erupted with thousands of members who were against the ban.

Fans were encouraged to join in the pregame prayer, which left both stands empty except for about 100 or so people who remained behind.

Football players took the field hand-in-hand, but it was unclear who was leading the prayer as students wanted to avoid the loudspeaker situation that has been so hotly contested in recent days.

"I take pride in my community, and I take pride in the students," McCawley said. "This is a student-led activity."

Only those who were on the field know exactly what was prayed for, but onlookers said it was simply a prayer between teams followed by a mass "amen."

Players from Calhoun High School also kneeled to pray at the start of their game Friday against Dade County High School in Trenton, Ga.

Sports writer Gene Henley contributed to this story.

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tngal88 said...

For those who do not understand prayer before games. Go seek a pastor and educate yourself. Lesson 101- Nobody prays to win games. We as parents and players understand that any sport can be dangerous. We are taught to not hate,and care for all. We ask our God to watch out for all and keep them safe. Even you. We understand that it is only by him that we live and we are grateful. We do not ask for silly things such as cars, homes, or to win the lottery or games. God gives us what we need. Everything is in his will not ours. It's out of respect. If two atheist greet each other and one does not shake the others hand or one dies, you don't go busting up in their funeral screamin and yelling. This would be disrespectful. Prayer for Christians before games, dinner, bed, etc..Is showing respect to our God. It would be rude not to acknowledge him. So for all you nuts out there that do not understand, maybe that will help a little.

October 23, 2010 at 4:59 a.m.
Humphrey said...

That is wonderful. All those folks have freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. You don't forfeit those rights as citizens simply by walking on to government property. They were perfectly free last night to express those rights. No one tried to stop anyone. The issue here is not one that is "anti-Christian." It isn't about the quality of what one believes, right vs. wrong, or who believes or not. It isn't us v.s them. The issue is simple - the government can not establish religion. Each of those individuals have a right to freedom of speech, the government does not. The government (in this case through a school) can not tell you when or where or how to pray. But in the case last night, individuals used their own freedom of speech and religion, that they have every right to do.

There is no understanding of prayer necessary. There is no "education" from a pastor necessary. It doesn't matter if the beliefs expressed are agreed to by anyone else or "everyone" else. That is completely beside the point. That's what freedom means. This was never an issue of people complaining that these beliefs are correct or incorrect. It does not matter whose beliefs are "right" and whose are "wrong." In fact, that sort of thinking is antithetical to the point here. All those who value their own religious beliefs - whatever they may be - must protect their religious freedom by protecting the separation of church and state. Because if the government is allowed to support a religion, then that religion becomes "right," and we lose our religious freedom.

October 23, 2010 at 5:35 a.m.
subito said...

This was a hot debate about 20 years ago in Massachusetts. Now, it seems strange to me to hear the words God or Jesus uttered in a public setting. Our issue was not just about school prayer, but also about starting a town meeting with an invocation, a 300 year old tradition that predates the constitution. We resisted also, but the fact remains that if we don't want government's nose in our religious business, then we shouldn't insert our religious business in a government-run event. It works both ways. And, as I understand it, the constitution was written to prevent government from influencing religion as well as to prevent religion from influencing government. Although it seems as if a right is being revoked, the freedom to choose how you worship ends at the folded hands of your neighbor. (Like the right to punch someone in the face ends at the tip of his nose.) So, be happy we have a choice but be sensitive to the fact that our choice is protected by the same constitution that prohibits us from sanctioning one type of prayer over another at a public event. Time for Chattanooga to catch up with the rest of the country, which has already tested it, and recognize that there are all kinds of religions and Christianity is not the only one, even in the bible belt. Say your prayers at home before you leave for the game, or quietly by yourselves on the field. God isn't just in the bible belt. God is also still up there for the folks in Massachusetts. Just look at the Patriots this year!

October 23, 2010 at 7:19 a.m.
librul said...

Soddy lost. God has spoken.

October 23, 2010 at 9:40 a.m.
xyzyra said...

Will others with a different religious belief be allowed other than Christianity be allowed to recite their prayers too at games? Will Christians be so tolerant of those who wish to do so? Today's Christians seems to be filled with hypocrisy, self righteousness and a since of entitlement.

October 23, 2010 at 9:45 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

Next week, the non-theists will take the field and recite the Constitution.

Theists will be welcome to the field also except the stains.. they already took their turn at delaying a game.

October 23, 2010 at 10:16 a.m.
ebenji87 said...

To TNgal88... us non-theists are "nuts"? You are the one that believes in talking snakes, talking bushes, people rising from the dead, an invisible big brother in the sky and that the world is only 6,000 years old. You want to see a nut, look in the mirror. We believe in provable, FACTS based on scientific evidence.

October 23, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.
realityrox said...

It is sad to see someone turn their backs on the spirits of their elders, for the god of those who killed, stole from, destroyed, relocated and many other horrendous deeds to their ancestors in the name of that god.

indian - you are a hypocrite and a traitor of your heritage.

October 23, 2010 at 11:34 a.m.
eeeeeek said...

indian - if you want to live in a theocracy.. there are so many already available.. go for it... hell.. I'm sure we could raise a few bucks for shipping and handling. You will always be welcome back.. no matter how much hate you have in your body.

This is no more a christaind nation, than it is a white nation. Sure.. there are more of each, but that's not what America or the Constitution is all about.

E Pluribus Unum - Out of many, one.

October 23, 2010 at 11:44 a.m.
librul said...

WTF Indian? Gimme a break. If your version of "standing united" is for the majority to browbeat everybody else into their way of thinking, you are as stupid (and unAmerican) as your post.

Native Americans had a valid and appropriate religion of their own when this was "their country" and before European invaders browbeat the survivors of their holocaust into submission and poisoned their culture with christianity.

It's still a mystery to me why natives EVER accepted the beliefs of those murderous, thieving invaders. Hypocrisy must have been a concept unknown to them. Every time I hear modern natives blathering on about Jesus it absolutely turns my stomach.

October 23, 2010 at 12:31 p.m.
CP7768 said...

Indian, How do you attribute this to immigrants? I am an American citizen born in the United States and find this offensive and I would guess that the people who oppose your view on this forum are also American citizens born in America.

October 24, 2010 at 4:03 a.m.
BubbaJack said...

It's all cut and dried:

Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791. ***

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.............

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.............

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.............

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.............

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.............

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.............

Sunk in yet?

October 29, 2010 at 8:36 p.m.
BubbaJack said...

The Constitution was written for the express purpose of enumerating the powers of government. None of those powers allow government to meddle in the affairs of citizen's religion.

Where the problem comes from, is that government has taken over the Public "school" system, and all state government through REVENUE "sharing", AS PLANNED.

Revenue sharing allows dictates of "government" to CONTROL the policy of local, county and state.

It was the method used to usurp State powers, along with other chicanery.

October 29, 2010 at 8:48 p.m.
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