Out of the Box: Freedom of religion for all

By Camille Nesler, contributing writer

Does anyone ever stop and think about how privileged we are in this
country to enjoy freedom of religion? Do we really appreciate the fact
that we can pray anytime, anywhere we feel the need? That we can go
into any church of our choice on a Sunday morning and worship without
being persecuted? Does anyone REALLY know what freedom of religion is
all about? Sadly, I think many people don’t have a clue. Or, they
mistakenly think it ONLY applies to Christianity. Sorry to disappoint
you, but the same freedoms that I enjoy as a Christian, apply to
everyone else as well. And I wouldn’t have it any other way because
the truth is, once you start messing around with other’s religious
freedom, you put yours at risk too.
I recently read an article about East Poinsett County School District
that has sparked a huge debate. The district has been issued an order
to stop holding a public prayer over the loudspeaker before their
football games. The order stemmed from a letter by the Freedom from
Religion Foundation, after a resident had “complained” about the
Christian prayer being announced over the speakers for all to hear.
I’m sorry but the school should have known better than to announce the
prayer over the public loud speakers. Teachers and staff at our
schools are considered state employees, and according to the United
States Constitution, the state cannot endorse ANY particular religion.
That means schools CAN’T announce a Christian prayer over the
loudspeakers anymore than they can read an Islamic prayer over the
loudspeakers. It’s not that hard to comprehend, folks.
Now for all of you hollering, “They can’t take away my right to pray!”
Or, “Prayer needs to be put back in our schools!” Guess what? NOBODY
is taking away your right to pray anytime, anywhere you choose. My
husband is a public school teacher, and I worked for years as a school
nurse and we have ALWAYS been allowed to pray in our schools! It’s
never “been taken out.” Students are allowed to pray anytime they want
as long as they don’t disrupt class. In fact my daughter is even a
member of the Christian Club at her school! Prayer always has, and
always WILL be inside the walls of our schools. The only thing that
has changed is the fact that school employees cannot LEAD the students
in a prayer. Kids can still bring their bibles to school to read on
their own, it just can’t be read over the intercom. But, on the flip
side, neither can the Koran or the Latin Vulgate or the Book of
Mormon! And aren’t you glad about that?
I want you to think for a minute. What if your child’s coach was, say,
a Buddhist? What if he wanted to lead the team in a prayer to Buddha
before every game? Would you, as a Christian, be OK with that? Of
course you wouldn’t! What if the principal at your child’s school was
a Muslim and he wanted to read from the Koran over the loud speakers
every morning? Would you be throwing a fit over that? I’m sure you
would. So isn’t it JUST as ridiculous for us to expect all people to
be OK with a Christian prayer being recited before a football game?
You may not like it folks, but freedom of religion isn’t just for your
religion or my religion. It’s for ALL religions.
And before people start hollering about how I’m just trying to be
“politically correct” let me stop you right there. I could care less
about offending someone with my praying. I’ll pray when and where I
feel like it and don’t give a flying fig about who hears and who gets
mad. And you know WHY I can do that? Because of the United States
Constitution which grants me Freedom of Religion.
So stop whining about how your “rights” are being taken away because
they AREN’T. You can still pray at every football game ‘til the cows
come home if that’s what floats your boat. Nobody is stopping you. But
employees of the state can NOT be leading anyone in ANY kind of
prayer. The state can’t endorse any particular religion. And you
should be grateful for that! It’s been this way since the Constitution
was signed in 1787. Are you really willing to risk your freedom of
religion by infringing upon someone else’s?
I for one am NOT willing to take that risk.