There are two beloved traditions in the Deep South: Friday night football and Sunday morning church.
God and the Gridiron are the official religions of the South.
How can we forget that great inspirational song, “Dropkick Me Jesus Through the Goalposts of Life?”
And it’s not uncommon to hear a preacher deliver an invocation from the memorial press box just before the marching band delivers a rip-roaring rendition of the national anthem.
They’ve been following that sacred playbook for decades in Jefferson County, Alabama.
But not anymore.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers, filed a complaint on behalf of a “concerned parent.”
It seems as though a godless heathen took offense by prayers delivered before the start of two local high schools.
“Our complainant reports that their child has been made to feel uncomfortable because they don’t share the same religious beliefs as most of the other students at their school,” read their complaint letter.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation says that the Supreme Court has ruled any invocation delivered over a public address system is unconstitutional — including prayers delivered by students.
“There are people affected by this. I think some people treat it as, oh they just don’t want to hear prayer. They don’t like that Christians exist. It has nothing to do with that. It truly is just that public schools are a neutral place. They should be neutral with regard to religion,” attorney Chris Line told television station WBRC.
The out-of-town atheists said Christian prayers recited over a public address system are illegal.
As I wrote in my book, “Culture Jihad: How to Stop the Left From Killing America,” it is legal for players and coaches to take a knee to protest American or to spit on our flag, but it’s illegal for players and coaches to take a knee to pray to the Almighty.
The school board consulted with their attorneys and decided it would be best to stop the prayers.
“The superintendent met with school principals and the administration will not allow prayer at school-sponsored events, including football games,” read a letter from the district’s attorney to the out-of-town atheists.
A few days later, the superintendent, no doubt feeling the heat from the good church-going football fans, issued another statement saying that fans were still allowed to voluntarily pray – just not over the taxpayer-funded public address system.
“Any assertion that the Jefferson County school system will no longer permit school prayer during school activities is simply not correct,” Walter Gonsulin wrote in a lengthy letter published by AL.com. “The right to pray and to religious expression is guaranteed under our laws and Constitution The Superintendent and the Jefferson County Board not only respect those rights, but will do everything in their power to make sure that those rights are protected, respected, and honored.”
The superintendent continued, “Our country was founded on these inalienable rights. Our school board and superintendent believe in them. To the extent those rights are attacked or called into question by others who do not live here, who do not have the same respect for those freedoms, and who do not represent the values of our community, this Superintendent and Board will stand with our students, families, employees, and communities in defense of the right to pray and to express their religious beliefs.”
There’s just one problem with the superintendent’s robust defense of religious liberty. Instead of standing with the students, families employees, and communities in defense of the right to pray and to express religious beliefs, he surrendered the microphone to the squawking, out-of-town atheists.
Nevertheless, I doubt this is the last we will be hearing from the good people of Jefferson County. It is Alabama, after all. And I suspect that the school board and the atheists are in for a rude awakening come football season.
Because anybody who’s been to a Baptist church revival meeting knows that a hellfire and brimstone preacher does not need a taxpayer-funded public address system to convey his message.
The Good Lord will take care of the amplification.