A prayerful plea: Guarding the rights of student-athletes

February 14, 2014 

The following editorial appeared

in the Fayetteville Observer:

Dear God, please give our public school administrators the wisdom and fortitude to safeguard the constitutional rights of student-athletes to exercise their religious faith freely.

Please grant the coaches in our schools this same discernment, so they recognize the moral and legal right of athletes to pray or not pray as they wish – whenever, however and to whomever.

Please enlighten those well-intentioned coaches and fellow students who may compel or pressure team members to participate in prayers that may not be according to their individual consciences.

Thank you for blessing the framers of this great nation, who recognized that whatever their personal understandings of spiritual things – on which they were in significant disagreement – any system that forces one set of religious ideas on others is incompatible with democracy.

They also learned from governments in which establishment of religion infringes on basic rights to worship, and produces unending pointless conflicts.

Thank you for making this a land where Christians of various types can worship freely. Thank you equally for defending the rights of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and so many others to exercise their beliefs. Thank you that our nation allows those who do not believe or are uncertain about what they believe to find their own way. Please protect our nation so this privilege is never lost.

Thanks that so many who embrace faith in this land have seen the error of pressuring people to practice or confess what they may not actually believe. This mocks real faith and diminishes any natural urge to seek the truth and make spiritual decisions.

Even though we disagree with what some coaches have been doing, thank you that they cared enough about their players’ spiritual well-being that they took such action. Please help them find more appropriate ways to build unity, express caring and walk according to their own faith. Let them be righteous examples to those around them.

Thanks that we didn’t have anyone who went so far overboard as the coach in Mooresville who was baptizing his players. Protect us from foolishness and liability.

We pray that those in public office, especially our boards of education, take this opportunity to seek policies for team prayers that respect these religious freedoms, our precious resource as Americans.


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