By Bill Fancher, AFR News and Jody Brown, AgapePress, August 30, 2000
(AgapePress) - In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prayer over public address systems at high school football games is illegal. As the football season opened across the country last weekend, many stadiums were the site of citizen- and student-led prayers. More prayers are expected at high school football games this weekend, continuing a campaign that pro-family groups hope will catch on across the nation.
Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition was impressed by the defiance that took place in the stadiums, particularly in the Southern states.
"These citizens are realizing that their rights are being stripped from them...yanked from them," Mahoney says, "and they simply want to express their faith in the public square. I'm encouraging it, I'm behind it, [and] I think they embody all that is right with the Christian experience."
The prayers are being called "a holy rebellion" in some circles, but Mahoney says it's not the people who are in rebellion.
"The Supreme Court is in rebellion," he says. "Not American citizens who value faith, family, and freedom."
Meanwhile, more schools will begin their football seasons this coming weekend, and more acts of defiance are expected.
Groups Encouraging Pre-Game Prayer
Two pro-family organizations are taking visibly active steps in encouraging football fans to pray at games this weekend and throughout the fall season.
In a direct challenge to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Supreme Court's ruling, the American Family Association--a nonprofit ministry based in Tupelo, Mississippi--took out a full-page ad in today's Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The ad proclaims in bold letters: "Sorry, ACLU, but you are not going to stop us from PRAYING AT FOOTBALL GAMES!" The ad encourages people to join together in a "spontaneous" recitation of The Lord's Prayer immediately following the national anthem.
The ad states that "As much as [the ACLU] would like to stop this movement, there is no way they can stop you from praying at a ball game. Praying in this manner is perfectly legal."
Using contributions solicited via a response form in the ad, AFA hopes to publish the same ad in newspapers across the nation.
Another organization, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, released a statement yesterday asking for crowd participation in reciting The Lord's Prayer this Friday at the Santa Fe High School (TX) football game. A group in that community originated the lawsuit which eventually reached the Supreme Court. An organization called "No Pray. No Play." plans to coordinate the prayer throughout the crowd after the national anthem.
"This ruling handed down by the Supreme Court should awaken us to the reality of how we are losing our right to exercise our freedom of religion," says Jim Weidmann, Vice Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "The people of Santa Fe simply want to use this game as an opportunity to express their faith, within the confines of the law."
Weidmann says he applauds the community's desire to "take advantage of their First Amendment right to publicly declare their spiritual beliefs."
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