East Poinsett schools end pre-game prayer after protest | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 10, 2013

East Poinsett schools end pre-game prayer after protest

Posted By on Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 6:55 AM

The Jonesboro Sun, behind a solid pay wall sorry to say, reports that the East Poinsett School District in Lepanto has finally acknowledged, grudgingly, the concept of separation of church and state.

It is going to stop pre-game loudspeaker prayers because of a letter fron the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which said a resident had complained about football game prayers.

The Sun leads with the unhappiness of the pastor of First Baptist in Lepanto, Anthony Langley.

The Foundation reminded the Arkansas school district of ample Supreme Court guidance on the issue, dating back 50 years. At a school-sponsored event, you can't cure the improper practice of forcing one form of religion on an audience merely by using a student or outsider to do the job.

Superintendent Mickey Pierce, a former coach and principal, told the Sun:

“We spoke to our attorney, and he said we didn’t have a leg to stand on.”

Uh, yup. And what do you bet Lepanto wasn't the last holdout of public school football PA praying in Arkansas?

Pierce's honesty on the one hand gave way to something less flattering, sorry to say.

“As religious as people are, people are infuriated,” Pierce told the Sun.

In Lepanto, of course, religion means Baptist. Or maybe Church of Christ. Many religious people, as well as non-religious, might be equally furious at being subjected to being forcefed religion as recited by someone of a different point of view.

The letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation said:

“Public high school events must be secular to protect the freedom of conscience of all students. East Poinsett County School District must take immediate action to ensure that prayers are not part of any school-sponsored events,” Elliott wrote. “These religious messages delivered and displayed at football games constitute an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion.”

Baptist pastor Langley unwittingly revealed what is so wrong and exclusionary about publicly financed and organized prayer practices in defending them:

“It will pull the community of Christians together to pray.”

And those in the community who are not Christians, or perhaps merely hew to the Biblical admonition of doing praying in private?

Langley said — I'm sure he believed defiantly — that the ban would not stop him from praying alone in the stands before a game.

Of course not. Nobody has ever tried to stop personal prayer. As many have said, there will always be prayer in school as long as calculus exists.

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