An interesting perspective on school prayer from Gary Christenot at World Net Daily.
... we were quite excited to be able to attend our first football game at Wahiawa High School [in Hawaii]. Upon our arrival at the stadium it seemed like so many other high school athletic events we had been to in many other places. The teams were warming up, the band was gathering, the ROTC was preparing to raise the colors – a pretty typical fall ritual.
Coming from a fairly traditional Southern upbringing, I was not at all initially surprised when a voice came over the PA and asked everyone to rise for the invocation. I had been through this same ritual at many other high-school events and thought nothing of it, so to our feet my wife and I stood, bowed our heads, and prepared to partake of the prayer. But to our extreme dismay, the clergyman who took the microphone and began to pray was not a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan.
We were frozen in shock and incredulity! What to do? To continue to stand and observe this prayer would represent a betrayal of our own faith and imply the honoring of a pagan deity that was anathema to our beliefs. To sit would be an act of extreme rudeness and disrespect in the eyes of our Japanese hosts and neighbors, who value above all other things deference and respect in their social interactions. I am sorry to say that in the confusion of the moment we chose the easier path and elected to continue to stand in silence so as not to create a scene or ill will among those who were seated nearby.
... I would say in love to my Christian brothers and sisters, before you yearn for the imposition of prayer and similar rituals in your public schools, you might consider attending a football game at Wahiawa High School. Because unless you’re ready to endure the unwilling exposure of yourself and your children to those beliefs and practices that your own faith forswears, you have no right to insist that others sit in silence and complicity while you do the same to them. I, for one, slept better at night knowing that because Judeo-Christian prayers were not being offered at my children’s schools, I didn’t have to worry about them being confronted with Buddhist, Shinto, Wiccan, Satanic or any other prayer ritual I might find offensive.
Christenot raises an important point about the school prayer controversy. But the issues are more subtle than he seems to believe.
First, his discomfort with pagan prayer is not a Constitutional issue. The folks at Wahiawa High School have every right to say whatever prayer they want at their football games. Differences of opinion can be sorted out by the civics of school board procedures, etc. Federal judges have no place in such issues. In fact, the Establishment Clause prohibits federal interference in religion. If Christenot doesn't like pagan prayers, he can remain silent, sit down, pray a quiet Christian prayer to himself, or leave. It's a free country.
I wouldn't take offense at a Buddhist prayer (or a Jewish or Muslim prayer or whatever). I like free expression, and I don't mind hearing other people's beliefs. I don't call the police when I hear something I disagree with. I would just pray silently, giving thanks to Christ for all of His blessings. Other people's prayers don't bother me. I like it when people are free to speak and pray.
This is the salient point about the ban on school prayer. Christians don't need banal invocations during football games to prosper. We Christians survived and even flourished under Nero and Mohammed and Henry VIII and Stalin and Hitler. We'll survive Engle v. Vitale.
The school prayer issue isn't about Christianity. The school prayer issue is an fight about freedom. It is a battle to preserve our Constitutional rights, and it is a battle against censorship. As Americans, and as Christians working for His kingdom, we should work for freedom and for the preservation of our unalienable rights.
At stake in the school prayer issue is our freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution and our unalienable right to shape our civic culture without government censorship. The fight is not ultimately about Christianity. The Lord's kingdom will prevail, bigoted court rulings, like the gates of Hell, notwithstanding.
HT: commentor Modusoperandi