Dinosaurs In The Bible

Let Us Pray!
By Jason Collins


As the sun slips down past the horizon, the illumination of the stadium’s lights becomes brighter. The freshly cut grass on the field is so green it looks almost blue. The bleachers on both sides of the field are packed tight with anxious fans that await the start of the game. The home side bleachers have a student section on the far right. The rowdy students have anticipations of charging the field to celebrate the victory over the cross-town rivals. The parents of the players are nervous for the team and for their sons. The marching band marches in front of the bleachers to take its place on the left side of the bleachers. Inside the home team’s locker room a small group of players gather to say a prayer together while another player slips on his headphones to listen to the Guns N’ Roses’ song, “Welcome to the Jungle,” to get pumped up before taking the field. At last, the two teams emerge from their meeting places and gather in separate end zones. The two teams are bunched behind the two different colorful banners cleverly made, which have a catchy phrase on them about beating the other team. Everything from the smell of hamburgers grilling at the concession stand to the players’ shiny helmets is in place. Everything has been done by the two teams to prepare for the task at hand. A hard week of practice and preparation is over and now its time to get the show started. Before the two teams can rip through the banners and take the field, the band must play the national anthem and a prayer must be given. The crowd is asked to stand as a selected student takes over the public announcement system to say a prayer of thanks, and to ask protection over the athletes.
As natural and as harmless as a prayer before a high school football game may seem, some select groups of different religious and nonreligious parties would object to being exposed to this ritual of worship. The Economist Newspaper Ltd. published an article titled “Prayer in schools: Does God play football?” This article describes a Catholic family’s and a Mormon family’s concern with prayer before a high school football game because they claimed that the school-prayer policy violates the establishment clause of the United States Constitution which prohibits the government from getting involved in any religious activity. Luke 18:1 in the Bible, King James Version, states that Jesus told a parable of how we should always pray and not lose heart. Although some may find it offensive to their right of religious freedom, prayer is important to acknowledge God’s protection and blessings.
After hearing about the case in Texas, which was the place of the controversial issue of praying at school events such as football games, one might asked him or herself why an individual or a group finds praying before a football game offensive. The first group of people that one could think of that might be offended would be the atheist population. “The Atheist Web,” noted that atheism is the act of not believing in the existence of gods. “This absence of belief comes through deliberate choice, or from an inherent inability to believe religious teachings which seem literally incredible. There are atheists that go past just not having a simple belief in gods. Some atheists believe that no higher being exists, such as a particular god, or all gods. These are referred to as “strong atheists.” Atheists that just lack a belief in an existing god are “weak atheists”. Anyone could see why this group of complete non-believers would be offended by being exposed to prayer.
The two families already mentioned, one being Catholic and the other Mormon, were apparently opposed to the idea of public prayer at a sporting event that was sponsored by a public school. It is hard to comprehend why a religious group would be opposed to public praying. In our country, everyone has the right to worship how they choose. CQ’s Electronic Encyclopedia of American Government informs us that the freedom of religion is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Freedom of religion is the same as the concept of liberty to America. The Establishment Clause has been interpreted to mean that Congress cannot establish a national church. Because a prayer was given at a public high school game these individuals obviously had feelings of the government forcing religion on them and the others viewing the game. The National Education Association of the United States states that in order to protect the rights of everyone; public schools must be neutral on religion. Prayer should not be pressured on students. Certain religious groups could see that prayer before a game as not their own prayer and see it as being done the wrong way. However, the Constitution states that “Congress will not make a law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. So what happened to the “free exercise thereof”?
Robert Drinan, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C., wrote that a prayer’s primary effect is to benefit religion. However the Supreme Court did not see it that way. The Supreme Court reasoned that the prayer would be before a government-organized audience, by equipment and appliances owned by the government, on government-controlled property at an event sponsored by the government. A prayer before each home football game in this small town of Santa Fe, Texas had been solemnly recited for roughly three generations. Undeniably, the prayers were from a Baptist orientation. In 1995, a suit was filed against the Santa Fe Independent School District by parents of the Mormon student and the Catholic student. After claims by one of the students of being harassed in class for her beliefs, her parents sought justification from the SFISD specifically for allowing a student-elected student council chaplain to deliver Christian prayers over the public address system prior to the home football games. The SFISD responded by arguing its case by stating that the prayers were student-led. In October 1995, a football game prayer policy was introduced by the SFISD. The policy consisted of an election each spring, given to the student body by the student council on secret ballots. Just like many other decisions made in our country, the students voted in a democratic fashion, on whether or not a statement or invocation would be a part of the pre-game ceremonies. If the majority of students voted in favor of the statement, they elected a student from a list of volunteers to deliver the statement of invocation. The SFISD claimed that the purpose of the address was to “solemnize the event, to promote good sportsmanship and student safety, and to establish the appropriate environment for the competition.”
The SFISD’s policy did not agree with the Fifth Circuit’s decision that the prayer should be “non-sectarian (and) non-proselytizing.” The case finally made it to the Supreme Court in November, 1999 (Berry). The National Education Association wrote that parents of two students troubled over the prayer at the game tried to negotiate with school officials. With the American Civil Liberties Union on the troubled parents’ sides they presented a good argument. After the attempts to prevent prayer at school events failed, the parents filed suit in the federal court. In 1999, Marion Ward, a senior student, received two ovations from the crowd before delivering a pre-game prayer. The issue about student-led praying was being seen as a violation to the constitutional separation of church and state. “Will the court decide to protect citizens’ rights to worship freely, or decide that they should do so only where the harmful messages of love, protection and faith can’t reach those who become uncomfortable with such talk?” An important point is raised by this question. A prayer cannot inflict much harm if any harm on any individual whether atheist, Mormon, Catholic, Baptist, or any religious belief. Apparently the Supreme Court saw that there would be a lot of harm inflicted. Prayer was ruled out of athletic events in June 2000. The public address system is supposed to be used for only announcing the game and introducing the half time program. The Court found that prayer before the game did cross the line between church and state because it was a state-funded high school. The Supreme Court banned clergymen from giving a blessing or prayer at a public-school graduation in 1992. Amazingly enough, ninety-four percent of the Republican primary in Texas voted yes to having prayer before football games. “Religion and football are woven together in Texas like a pattern in a sweater”.
For the individuals that are fighting for the cause of Christ, it is discouraging when we see that people are trying to take our right away. “Whether you choose to worship Allah or Buddha or prefer to deny the existence of a supreme being, you cannot deny the spiritual foundations of our people. It can be found inscribed on our national monuments, printed on our currency and ingrained in our culture. But that doesn’t stop the controversy”. The government is prohibiting prayer from schools. One of the elements that our great country was founded on is being taken away from us. Proverbs 15:8 it states that the way of the wicked is hideous to the Lord. However, the prayers of the righteous are to his delight (913). It looks as if America is not just turning from God, but turning and running away. Especially when religious or nonreligious groups become offended by a prayer before a high school football game, and have it banned for the future.
Samuel Walker elaborates on the issue of school prayer in the article, “Belonging to America: Rights and Membership,” and notes that supporters of in-school prayer believe that it is a wholesome activity that encourages religious values, including respect for authority and brings on habits of discipline and self-control. William J. Bennett, the writer of The Devaluing of American Society, believes the removal of prayer in public schools has a “de-valued” affect on society. This contributes to both the deterioration in the quality of education, and it adds to the rate of crime, drug abuse, and teenage pregnancy. The elimination of prayer in schools and other religious activities is one of the principal causes of America’s moral decline. This was the argument of conservatives and many communitarians. Brother Tim Binion, pastor at Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN, preached on the situation of America’s condition. In a sermon given he preached that our nation is at war because we are drifting further and further away from God. God is using this war to bring us back to him. The banning of prayer in schools is an example of how America is drifting. Darrell Scott, father of Rachel Scott who was a victim in the Columbine High School shootings, gave his thoughts after the tragic event in Columbine. He states that men and women consist of body, soul, and spirit. By refusing to acknowledge a third part of our being, we have an emptiness that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to come in and wreak havoc. Scott uses poetry to express his thoughts more strongly in front of the House Judiciary Committee: Your laws ignore our deepest needs / Your words are empty air / You’ve stripped away our heritage / You’ve outlawed simple prayer” / “Now gunshots fill our classrooms / And precious children die / You seek for answers everywhere / And ask the question, “Why?” / “You regulate restrictive laws / Through legislative creed / And yet you fail to understand / That God is what we need!”
He continues his address by stating because our country is refusing to honor God we are opening the doors to hatred and violence. “We…need a change of heart and a humble acknowledgement that this nation was founded on the principle of simple trust in God!” There are still people standing up for prayer in school.
Jody McLoud, principal of Roane County High School in Kingston, Tn., stated his stance on prayer before the season opening football game: “It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the national anthem to honor God and country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of federal case law. As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternative lifestyle and if someone is offended that’s OK. I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that’s OK. I can use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem. I can designate a school day as earth day and involve the students in activities to religiously worship and praise and goddess, mother earth, and call it ecology. I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional Christian convictions as simple-minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment. However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, federal case law is violated. This appears to be at best, inconsistent, and at worst diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and everyone except God and his commandments… However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and to ask him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please fell free to do so. As far as I know, that’s not against the law, yet.”
These words are sad, but true. All Americans should be outraged by the issues that are immoral to God, and yet the same issues are present everyday without second thought. Any place is evil when murdering unborn babies is legal, and yet if any acknowledgement of God in our public schools or even before a high school football is present citizens are running to the Supreme Court to have it taken away. The principal shared that Roane County High School is still having prayer. He noted that before every home game students huddle on the ten yard line to have prayer. Also, a sound system was put up on a lot across from the stadium in Roane County by a local booster. The kids have a wireless microphone to the sound system on the private property, which they use to project the prayer to the stadium. “The lordship of Christ will not be threatened by the Supreme Court.
Centuries ago and even decades ago, the true elements of God and his word were valued. Now if a prayer is said before a high school football game people expect the Supreme Court to prohibit any type of religious ritual before a game. Throughout my life, prayer has gotten me through a lot of tough times. Just having the pressures of school is enough to bring one to his or her knees. Our rights and beliefs as Christians should not be banned because a few individuals oppose. As a member of a missionary Baptist church, it is my duty to keep prayer in my life. Prayer should be offered up as thanks, to ask for forgiveness, to ask protection, to ask for blessings, and for worship and praise toward God. If I am blessed with children one day, it is scary for me to think about the kind of world they will grow up in. The world becomes a more evil everyday. I can see this from watching the news on television or from reading a newspaper. For anyone and myself who want to honor God, daily communication with the Lord is essential.
The issues that have taken place in Texas and across the country are both shocking and frustrating. The government should not even consider any offensives that have to do with banning prayer from any public places. If God were exposed in more places, such as public schools and at public high school football games, this world would be better off than it is. Until the day the Lord comes back to his claim his own, some people will follow his teachings through prayer and worship, and others will contradict his teachings. Let’s remember the popular verse of scripture used at sporting events is not just for a clever sign, but for God’s love for us. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life.” We as individuals have the opportunity to choose God’s ways or the ways of the world. God is not going to twist our arms to make us believe in him and his word. The Lord will receive his justice and acknowledgement some day. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but there is a payday some day for all of us.



Tim Binion

P.O. Box 1034

Hendersonville, TN 37075

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This site was last updated 04/21/11