Prior to 1995, a student elected as Santa Fe High School's student council chaplain delivered a prayer over the public address system before each home varsity football game. Respondents, Mormon and Catholic students or alumni and their mothers, filed a suit challenging this practice and others under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Since the 1994 District Court verdict that has eliminated prayer before our high school football games, there has been groundswell within the community to once again have prayer before our schools sporting events. The Santa Fe Independent School District was the defendant in the case. After the ruling, it ended its tradition of pre-game prayer.
Prayer before our football games is just as much a part of playing football as putting on the shoulder pads and helmet. There are numerous school districts that allow prayer before their football games.
On June 19, 2000, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that amplified, student-led prayer approved by public school officials crossed the line in the separation of church and state. The tool that shut down the effort, according to parents of several children that attended Santa Fe School District, was the school-owned public address system the Supreme Court said could not be used to broadcast a prayer. Advocates said the prayer was meant to be a testament to their right of free speech. Even their former adversaries in court agreed.
For too long, we as Christian have sat in our pews singing our bless me songs with our heads in the ground. The time has come for Christians to stand and be counted. We will no longer be bullied by those who wish to silence us. That type of silence is censorship. There are several school districts across Texas that continues the time honored tradition of prayer before their football games. I believe we must bring this tradition back.
In Daniel 6, we read where King Darius passed a law stating that prayer to God was unlawful, Daniel decided to obey God instead of the king. Verse 10 & 11 of Daniel Chapter 6, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.
We are going to be thrown to the lions den whether we pray in public or not, so why not be on God’s side when we are thrown to the lions instead of the side of the government? I do believe that our government can work hand in hand with the church. That is the way our Founding Fathers set up our country.
Stevens, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined.
Chief Justice Rehnquist, with whom Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas join, dissenting.
The Court distorts existing precedent to conclude that the school district's student-message program is invalid on its face under the Establishment Clause. But even more disturbing than its holding is the tone of the Court's opinion; it bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life. Neither the holding nor the tone of the opinion is faithful to the meaning of the Establishment Clause, when it is recalled that George Washington himself, at the request of the very Congress which passed the Bill of Rights, proclaimed a day of "public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God." Presidential Proclamation, 1 Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1789-1897, p. 64 (J. Richardson ed. 1897).
Santa Fe School District was allowing students to vote to see who would say the prayer at their football games.
The court said, “Through its election scheme, the District has established a governmental electoral mechanism that turns the school into a forum for religious debate. It further empowers the student body majority with the authority to subject students of minority views to constitutionally improper messages. The award of that power alone, regardless of the students' ultimate use of it, is not acceptable.23 Like the referendum in Board of Regents of Univ. of Wis. System v. Southworth, 529 U. S. ___ (2000), the election mechanism established by the District undermines the essential protection of minority viewpoints. Such a system encourages divisiveness along religious lines and threatens the imposition of coercion upon those students not desiring to participate in a religious exercise. Simply by establishing this school-related procedure, which entrusts the inherently nongovernmental subject of religion to a majoritarian vote, a constitutional violation has occurred.24 No further injury is required for the policy to fail a facial challenge.”
In the 1960’s we had the Holy Bible and prayer taken out of our public schools. In 1973, we saw Roe vs. Wade become law allowing over 50 million babies to be aborted. Just in the past few years it has become unlawful to pray at football games, for coaches to join the players and students in prayer.
The Founders of the Constitution were Christians and they expected it would be so for their descendents. They stated, “The great vital and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrine and divine truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
1947 - Everson vs. the Board of Education – Only nineteen words of Jefferson’s speech were used, those being, “The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state.” That wall must be kept high and impregnable.” It was because these words were taken out of context that the Founding father’s intent was reversed. Jefferson meant, not state from church, but church from state.
Dr. William James –the Father of Modern Psychology influenced the court. He wanted church out of state. Dr. James stated, “There is nothing so absurd but if you repeat it often enough, people will believe it.” The courts began used this tactic through the years.
1958 - Bear vs. Colmore – One of the judges got tired of hearing the statement, “separation of church and state.” He said, “If this court doesn’t stop talking about separation of church and state, someone will think it is part of the constitution.” The court continued to talk about it.
June 25, 1962 - Engle vs. Vitale – This was the first time there was a separation of religious principles from public education. The courts rules that there should not be prayers in school. It was the first time we had a separation of church and state. It was the first time that NO precedence (where previous legal cases were cited) or historical incidents were quoted.
1962-65 - The courts removed church from state through rulings on these cases:
1- Engle vs. Vital - Removal of prayer from school. The prayer before the court only mentioned God once. The Constitution mentions God four times. Does this make it unconstitutional?
2- Murray vs. Curlett – Removal of bible reading in school. Bible study used to be required to graduate from High School.
3- June 17, 1965 -Abington vs. Schempp – Removal of religious instruction from school. The courts stated, “If portions of the New Testament were read without explanation, they could be, and have been psychologically harmful to the child.”
In this case the courts said that only 3% of the nation professed no belief in religion or God. That prayer was consistent with 97% of the nation, but the courts ruled for the minority. Now, the philosophy of the 3% rules the 97%.
Our courts used to use biblical guidelines to rule on the areas of the citizens, families, schools, and the nation. Not anymore! Before 1962, the courts said, “We only allow divorce for six reasons. They are the six reasons God allows as written in the bible. God made the family (Adam’s and Noah’s) and so we have to use God’s precepts/rules to govern the family.” After 1965 the courts said we were not to do so any more, because it causes psychological damage to children. George Washington stated, “Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religions principle.”
1965 - Reid vs. Vanhovan – It is unconstitutional for a student to pray aloud in school.
1967 - Decab vs. Dispain – The courts took a four-line nursery rhyme used in pre-kindergarten and ruled it unconstitutional. The courts said, “The rhyme is unconstitutional since it might cause someone to think of God.”
1980 - Stone vs. Graham – The Ten Commandments were posted in a school’s hall bulletin board. The court ruled: “If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all it will be induce the school children to read, meditate upon them, and perhaps to venerate and obey the commandment; this is not a permissible objective.”
When the courts say something is unconstitutional, what they are saying is that this thing is something our founding fathers would have been opposed to and would not have allowed it! The court’s findings do not reflect this.
James Madison, the Chief Architect of the Constitution, said, “We have stated the whole future of American civilization not upon the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”
Our country is now number one in:
- Violent crime
- Teen pregnancy
- Illegal drug use
- Illiteracy (in all the industrial world) - In 1997, seven hundred thousand students graduated from high school, who couldn’t read their diplomas.
Jeremiah 6:16 says to go back to the old paths if you want things to be back the way it should be. Many state constitutions require people, who hold office, to believe in God, the scriptures, and understand them.
1774 - Ben Franklin stated, “Introduce into public affairs the principles of Christianity and it will change the face of the world.”
Charles Finnay said, “The church must take right ground in regard to politics. Politics are part of religion in a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. He will bless or curse this nation according to the course Christians take in politics.”
If God’s people do not make it into office God’s principles do not make it into office. That is why Christians must be in office. Our government has been taken over by ungodly men.
Proverbs 18:1 “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desires; he rages against all wise judgment.”
The separation of church and state allows Christians to be a light to the world, but only in the confines of the church. We know that the Lord wants us to be a light unto the government too.
If we want to see our children live right we must stop handing out condoms and start handing out the Word of God in schools again.
We have lost our heritage. We must get Christianity back into government, our schools, and in our society!