A high school in Mississippi has given up the tradition of an invocation before its football games – check out an opinion piece on the issue here and the website of the group who is behind eliminating the prayer here.  My interest in this incident is not really a religious one – being originally from New England I did not grow up with the tradition of prayer before games and it is not something I really care about one way or the other (although plenty of other civic gatherings have invocations, even in the Northeast).  Rather, I am interested in the mind-your-own-business angle, which has a regional component.  Prayer before games is a longstanding tradition in many parts of the South.  If a community wants to do it and one or two people don’t like it or are offended, should the practice be stopped?  The organization that drove the move to end the practice in this case is the Freedom From Religion Foundation (see the link above), which bill itself as “protecting the Constitutional principle of separation of state and church (note the reversal of the usual order of a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution).  If you check out their website, though, you will see the group is not just for separation but is actively anti-church.  They are also based in Wisconsin but have a national reach.  Why not let the people of Mississippi do what they want?  Why is a group from Wisconsin involved?  This is not a matter of protecting someone from harm, which would be a totally different thing and quite understandable reason for outsiders to get involved.  Annie Lauire Gaylor, the FFRF co-president quoted in the article, says that people shouldn’t have to pray to enjoy the football game.  Who is making anyone pray?  It is words over a loudspeaker.  She later utters the chilling phrase “illegal prayer”.  It has been a while since I have blogged, but reading those two words fired me up.  What have we become?

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