A year ago, I went to my old highschool’s football game. It had been nine years since my last trip to the stadium and I was taking in all the nostalgia like oxygen. We stood for the national anthem. Immediately following the song, a student came over the intercom and asked us to remain standing for a moment of silence. I have always been a fan of the moment of silence, since it can be a time of prayer, reflection, or simply a moment that I don’t have to pretend to care what someone is saying. All of a sudden, a full 6 seconds into the “moment” of silence, the student began leading the crowd in prayer. A Christian prayer of course (although I would have paid money to hear an Islamic prayer and witness the aftermath). The student continued for what must have been a full 30 seconds, ending in “Amen” and quickly followed by the multitude answering with a thunderous “Amen” of their own. This offended me greatly…
…and I am a Christian.
It bugged me the whole game and I let many people know it. The overwhelming response I received was “Just be happy that they let the prayer happen.” If there is a legal loophole allowing Christian prayers at football games as long as they are led by students, that totally misses the point. It shouldn’t be allowed because it has the same effect. It alienates everyone there who is not a Christian.
My entire life I have heard how people are tired of political-correctness and how they don’t care if something offends someone. To be fair, I’m not saying the goal is to never offend someone; I’m saying that certain things are simply offensive. Forcing a personal religious belief/situation on someone is offensive, period. The only rationales I’ve ever heard for supporting such incidences are “I don’t care if the truth offends someone” or “This country was founded as Christian nation” or some other nonsense. Besides the fact that the US was “not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” according to the Treaty of Tripoli which was ratified unanimously by the Senate in 1797 (and signed by John Adams), why should I be happy that we (Christians) “got away with” the prayer? The Separation of Church and State is to protect religious (and non-religious) freedoms. The goal isn’t to eventually have religion consume government or society; the goal is freedom to believe (or not believe) whatever our convictions lead us to, without the tyranny of the State to intrude into such matters.
We can have belief and have it positively and effectively communicated, without purposefully offending those who differ in opinion. Otherwise, you’re just lazy and… you guessed it… offensive.
And I do have a problem with that.