The recent decision of Bell County High School officials in Kentucky to dispense with the offering of a prayer before a football game, a longtime tradition, was supposedly based on the requirement of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The officials were reminded in a letter from an outfit in Madison, Wisconsin, that they would be in line for an expensive lawsuit if the exercise was continued, claiming it to be a violation of that First Amendment.
The prayers are usually offered in behalf of safekeeping for the players, who ironically are about to commit mayhem upon each other, and for other generic concerns such as safekeeping for military personnel as well as guidance for the nation’s leaders. The efficacy of such prayers is not the issue. The recognition of God is the issue, even though no recognition/establishment of any religion is offered.
The exact wording of the First Amendment as related to this matter: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The applicable definition of religion: “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”
In a prayer, there is no attempt to respect or disrespect or even to acknowledge an establishment of religion. There is no attempt to recognize or advance any cause, principle, or system of beliefs. There is only the addressing of God for a certain result, as well as the offering of thanks for whatever is conceived of as a gift from God, either past, present, or future.
The prayer, therefore, besides having nothing to do with religion, by definition cannot in any way injure those who believe God doesn’t exist. They consider themselves outside the activity altogether, thus cannot possibly be harmed. To them, the prayer is no more than a harmless comic strip. They hear no sermon, are not victims of evangelistic effort, are not coerced in any way, and are not victims of religious teaching. Neither words nor a moment of silence do any harm.
So, the prayer does not represent an establishment of religion. Indeed, prayers are offered before the daily activities in Congress even though those prayers, as part of actual government operations performed in government facilities, not at a mere ballgame, would seem far more condemnatory, if out of order. The inscriptions of God on coins and official documents and government buildings, in state constitutions, and in certain oaths that are affirmed furnish proof that God does not represent an establishment of religion. God just is…or isn’t, depending on individual preference.
But suppose the prayer is considered an establishment of religion, in this case established by the School Board reflecting the will of the citizens. According to the First Amendment, Congress shall make no law prohibiting its exercise. The amendment says nothing about when or where or how or by whom the exercise may or may not be conducted.
The amendment was enacted to prohibit the state from affirming a specific official religion, as was the case during colonial rule vis-ŕ-vis the Anglican Church, with Queen Elizabeth II as the present Supreme Governor and titular head of the Church. The amendment was also enacted so that people could not be constrained from observing a religious exercise if collectively they so desired, no matter the location. It’s doubtful that any cleric was/is paid for praying at a ballgame, so the prayer is not taxpayer-supported, therefore not an infringement on any tax-paying atheist’s rights. If/where this is not extant, the status quo can be changed.
Rule by the minority has become the norm in this country not just concerning religion but concerning virtually everything. For instance, the notion that men should marry men because a miniscule minority says so is unconscionable and represents an act in violation of federal/state laws as well as against nature itself, without remarking any religious context,
The Judeo-Christian God was part, if not the foundation, of the founding documents. The miniscule minority is trying to erase God from the national scene. The Wisconsin group has some 125 members in Kentucky out of a population of 4,339,367, amounting to an infinitesimally small .003%.
Rule by the minority shouldn’t happen as long as no one gets hurt, as in this case.