- - Tuesday, September 30, 2014


Columnist Robert Knight seems to think some big victory has been won over the American Civil Liberties Union because a public high school in Tennessee has cheerleaders and the audience reciting a prayer following the discontinuation of the loudspeaker-broadcast, school-organized prayer (“Score: Prayer 1,000, ACLU 0,” Web, Sept. 26). I disagree.

The ACLU, along with secularists like me, stand up for the principle that the government should not be involved in religious matters, including endorsing or furthering any sort of religion. If someone wants to voluntarily pray without governmental help, fine; but the government (be it public-school coaches or other officials) shouldn’t be leading prayers, nor should they invite clergy to do so. Would Christians in Tennessee or anywhere else want an Islamic cleric giving a prayer from the Koran during a football game? Of course not, and they should not have to tolerate it. Would they want an atheist coach reciting lines out of the Humanist Manifesto? Of course not, and neither would any atheist want to do so at such a time and place.

Even in states such as Tennessee, not everyone is a Christian and not everyone wants to hear prayers. People go to a football game to be entertained or watch their brother or son play, not to hear the government lead a prayer.

By the way, the ACLU has defended the rights of Christians in prisons, in parks, on sidewalks and even in schools, to practice and advocate their religion. They just oppose, and rightly so, governmental involvement in it. Mr. Knight doesn’t seem to understand the basic principles of the ACLU when it comes to religion and the government. Disagree with the ACLU if you want, but please don’t make up a straw-man position so you can attack it.



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