Defending Our Right to Pray

  For the past several days I've been talking about religious liberty and how our American system of government is deeply rooted in Christian principles. I've also talked about the rise of practical atheism, the persecution of Christians around the world, and the importance of Christian influence in media and law. As I've pointed out over these days, in the past fifty years, the secular culture has been trying to silence believers. But Christians are now saying, "enough is enough," as the protests on high school campuses made clear. When told their right to pray was forbidden, thousands have defied the orders and openly prayed. When TIME magazine reported on this outbreak of Christian resistance, they called it a "not-so-quiet revolution." In communities all across America, citizens have rejected Court-imposed secularism. In Arkansas, for example, football fans left the bleachers and knelt in prayer with the athletes and cheerleaders at mid-field. In Tennessee, students formed a human chain around the field. And in towns like Forest City, North Carolina, fans tuned their portable radios to a local station to hear a pastor's prayer before the game. But this kind of dissent doesn't sit well with those who'd like to silence Christians. Steven Shapiro of the ACLU said he's "very disappointed" with what's been going on, and he warned that his group will be "watching what's happening very closely." Well, from the looks of it, he'll need a lot of watchdogs. But the sore head award goes to Barry Lynn, of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who said the protests were like a well-known obscene gesture being made at the Court. A more sensible assessment came from Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated who said, "prayer in the American stadium is not an issue that will fade gently away." You can't stop Americans from standing up and praying any more than you can stop them from cheering the home team. For protesters, Deford said, being told not to pray before a game isn't an extension of the ban on prayer in school. These games often involve the whole community, and banning prayer on the field is like banning everybody from praying, and that's an idea that just won't fly. He's right about that. In all these issues, the courts and other institutions have overstepped their authority. Praying for the safety of our kids isn't a threat to anyone, and it's not something the law can ban. Customs like these are precisely what the religion clauses of the First Amendment were designed to protect. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not from it. And when government tries to suppress our liberties, we have a right to stand up and say no. But in all these instances, it's important that we make our case thoughtfully and responsibly, bearing in mind that we're not just citizens but followers of Christ. Violence, or rude, or even angry behavior is never appropriate; but, at the same time, failing to speak up when our basic freedoms are threatened would be just as wrong. As this series has shown, the challenges to religious freedom have never been greater, but there's also never been a better time to demonstrate faith in action. Call us here at BreakPoint and learn about groups that are fighting for religious freedom. Learn the issues and be prepared to defend religious liberty with your neighbors. And, oh yes, if you are at a football game, stand up and pray.


Chuck Colson


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