MIKE RUFFIN: Football field showcasing prayer | faith and values

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)

Schools in the region have started or are about to start again. This means Friday night high school football games are in full swing. The stands are filled with students, families of players and alumni.

When I was in school, one of the local pastors always led the prayer before the game. But since 1962, thanks to Madalyn Murray O’Hair, there have been many court rulings regarding the legality of praying in school or at school events. Unfortunately, most of the decisions went against prayer.

Years ago in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Tom Lester – who played “Eb” in the 1970s TV sitcom, “Green Acres” – personally stood up and led a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. “I started praying out loud,” Lester told a reporter named Pete Winn. “Everyone around me started praying, and it got louder and louder, louder and louder around us. You could just hear (the prayer) sweeping the stadium. It was a wonderful experience.

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In fact, Lester’s idea was not original. The prophet Daniel responded similarly when public prayer was forbidden to anyone except King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel 6:10 records that he opened his bedroom windows and still prayed publicly. “Three times a day, says the Bible, he knelt down and prayed, giving thanks to his God, as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

Legal experts are quick to remind Christians that the jury is still out on whether fan-led prayer is more constitutional than student-led prayer. But the example Lester and dozens of others have set has generated an outpouring of support.

The shame in all of this is that the court’s effort to purge our schools of prayer is ground zero for many of the problems plaguing public schools. In fact, I came across a poem written by a teenager that pretty much sums it up:

Now I sit in school,

Where to pray is against the rule.

For this great nation under God,

Finds his mention very strange.

If the scripture now class recites,

It violates the Bill of Rights.

And every time I lower my head,

Becomes a federal matter now.

Our hair can be purple, orange or green,

It’s not an offence; it is a scene of freedom.

The law is specific; the law is precise,

Loud prayers are a serious vice.

To pray in a public hall,

May offend someone who has no faith.

In silence alone we must meditate,

The name of God is banned by the state.

We’re allowed to swear and dress like freaks,

And pierce our noses, our tongues and our cheeks.

They didn’t ban guns, but first the Bible,

Quoting The Good Book makes me responsible.

We can elect a pregnant senior queen,

And the single dad our Senior King.

It is inappropriate to teach right from wrong,

We are taught that such judgments have no place.

We can get condoms and contraceptives,

Study witchcraft, vampires and totem poles.

There are books on evolution and alternative lifestyles,

But the Ten Commandments are no longer there.

It’s scary here, I must admit,

When chaos reigns, the school is a mess.

So Lord, this silent plea that I make,

Should I be shot, my soul please take!

Denise W. Whigham