Prayer Inserted In Public Events Ignores The Sensibilities Of Others


Jesus would not pray publicly at a football game. He told his followers not to stand and pray at the street corners that they may be seen by men, but rather "when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret ..."

Recently on a TV news clip over the controversy of prayer at athletic events, a woman was defiantly saying, "I'll pray anytime and anywhere I want to."

Fine, but not in such a way as to foist your personal experience with God onto others. The concept of "the separation of church and state" is as precious to American freedom as the right to speak and assemble, but with all of our rights comes responsibility. It is the responsibility of the individual to "promote the general welfare" of the community.

Prayer inserted into public and civic gatherings ignores the sensibilities and beliefs of fellow citizens, who would express their faith in other words and would be offended by the particular form in which our faith is expressed.

We have a plethora of churches, temples, mosques and shrines in every American community, where people of faith choose the form and fellowship of their worship. We expect to participate in spoken prayers when we are with a fellowship of believers. I dare say most of us acknowledge that God by any name is one god.

I would not be offended to be led in prayer by a Christian, a Jew, a Moslem, a Buddhist, a Hindu or a native American medicine man. However, I am offended when I hear someone making heavy doctrinal statements in their public prayer, as though I am being preached at rather than being led into God's presence.

To insist that everyone submit to someone else's form of religion is, to say the least, un-American.

My own faith is placed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and my testimony to that faith is freely given in personal contacts. For better or worse, it is also expressed in my lifestyle. But to take a community gathering, be it the classroom, an athletic event or the town council, and impose my personal expression of faith on a public gathered for other purposes is not righteous. It is self-righteous.

I am a person of fervent prayer, but in the inner sanctum of my heart, with fellow believers, or personally with those who ask it of me.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that Jesus would not have led in prayer at a football game.

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