Thinking out loud can get a person in trouble. Me be the person doing the thinking can add to the trouble; I tend to start my train of thought in a very different train station than the average person where I live.
But this whole war over public prayer with the Freedom From Religion Foundation really has me thinking about prayer, especially public prayer. The issue was reignited in the Chattanooga area in August when the Foundation filed complaint against a local football coach.
My first, fiery response to the whole thing was decidedly redneck and all things that are wrong about tradition and religious culture. “We pray at ball games down here! No one has a problem with it here. Why don’t they go back to Wisconsin and leave us alone?” There’s my moment of confession; everything redneck and Southern Confederate heritage oozing out of the overflow of my heart. Massive heart check required.
But that thought made me think a little deeper; why do we insist on praying at public events?
Is it because it’s tradition?
Is it because we have a superstition that someone will get hurt if we don’t pray?
Is it because we want to summon our god to be on our side?
Southern redneck public prayers don’t exactly have the best track record of displaying the glory and majesty of the God we serve.
Jesus had some things to say in Matthew 6 about praying in public:
5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Just some food for thought as I’m thinking through the Freedom From Religion yuck.
What’s being proven with making a stink about praying before a ball game?
Are we reducing prayer to a magic charm when we insist it take place a certain way?
What’s wrong with observing a moment of silence? That’s what UTC decided to do, and it seems to be a mutually respectful compromise.
I understand that some people see this as further encroachment upon our religious freedoms and this is the issue at which some have chosen to draw the line of saying “no more.” I’m just not sure which religion people are practicing that requires they pray at the beginning of public events. Sometimes it feels as if this whole fight is based not upon protecting our religious freedom, but about insisting our religion is right.
But what causes us to think that we have the “right” to pray in public at all? Is having a moment of silence preventing us from practicing our religion?
My questions are based more on the global perspective of knowing the friends and family of people who have died for their faith around the world. Knowing the loved ones of martyrs changes your perspective of the term religious freedom.
What would our nation be like if we spent on private prayer all the time we spend filing litigation to protect our right to pray over public events?
What will Americans do if we are ever really faced with the loss of religious freedom?