Sunday, September 9, 2012

Freedom of Religion/Separation of Church and State

This article caught my eye "First Amendment prayer fight splits Georgia town" because as I have said, I am an atheist, but I feel people are free to believe whatever they want.  So just from that title, I figured I would read more into it.  The jist is that a school district in Georgia had "school sponsored" prayer before sporting events, much the way there is an invocation at the beginning of each NASCAR race.  The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to the school board and in response they have stopped the sanctioned prayer.  In "protest" a bunch of people had their own private prayers and prayer circles before the game.  One of the people or organized the pro-prayer t-shirts said "Everybody has their rights, but so do I, and it's not right for one person to say that I can't pray."

Guess what? No one was saying you CAN'T pray. They are only saying the school district can't sponsor it, sanction it or broadcast it over the PA system. If you want to have your own prayer, or a prayer with a group before the game, go ahead. But you can't force everyone else to participate by broadcasting it through the stadium at a government sanctioned event. You also can't punish people for not participating. I hate when people see these types of things as an attack on their freedom of religion. No one is taking away your rights, they are protection the rights of the people who don't believe in your religion. If the school prayer was an invocation to Satan, or mentioned Muhammad, it would have been met not only with threats of lawsuits, but threats of violence as well. Religious tolerance in this country might as well be really viewed as tolerance of Christian religions. Even atheists get a bad name, but we aren't viewed as "evil" as Muslims by mainstream people.

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