FEDERAL APPEALS COURT TO HEAR SCHOOL PRAYER CASE
(This is a Gannett paper so I can't excerpt.) You may read the article itself here: http://www.thnt.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071003/NEWS/710030366/1001/
In brief, a coach at East Brunswick, NJ High School continued a custom of long standing when - 25 years ago - he followed the (rather widespread) coaching practice of permitting his teams to offer their own non-denominational prayers at sports banquets and in the locker room. To honor them, he would bow his head , or kneel, but would remain silent himself.
In September of 2005, some students complained about the practice, and the school board ordered the coach to desist. The coach resigned in protest , but rescinded his resignation 10 days later on advice of counsel, and filed a lawsuit alleging the abridgement of his civil rights. In July,2006, the Federal District court upheld the coach in all respects ; and the school board declared itself satisfied.
Enter Americans United for the Separation of Church and State , a non-sectarian group,made up primarily of atheists and agnostics, which offered to pay for an appeal by the East Brunswick board of education. The Board agreed,and arguments are being heard today in the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
Wow ! Things have DEFINITELY changed !!
In 1938, I first became aware there were other religions when I entered First Grade. (I was just 4 1/2 years old at the time, lived on a farm, and had only my older brothers for playmates.)
The source of this startling bit of information was the daily bible reading (always from the Old Testament) and the school prayer in which the teachers would lead us. I was part of a tiny Roman Catholic minority , and had never heard the words "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power,and the glory,forever and ever " tacked on to the Lord's Prayer before the final "Amen".
There were prayers at assemblies,and incredibly long-winded invocations at graduation excercises : usually delivered in the loud,nasal, hectoring tones Protestant clergy of that time considered appropriate.
I DO NOT look back at that era with with fond nostalgia !!
I have, in fact become fairly secular - like most people - I guess : secular in a rather casual live-and-let-live way.
There are people who say: " Thank you, Lord for this meal " ; and there are others who say : " Thank God, that's the last of this stew !"
I tend to fall in the latter category - mainly because I'm eating my own cooking ;but sometimes I wonder if the " Secular Humanism " being exercised by Americans United and its counterparts isn't well on the way to becoming a religion in its own right.
I could almost imagine a Secular Humanist "Ten Commandments".
First: I am the State,thy State. Thou shalt not have others-especially deities- before me.
Second: Thou shalt not engrave false images upon paper and pass the same off as lawful monies of the State.
Third: Thou shalt not criticize thy State or the Officials thereof.
Fourth: Remember Election Day,and forget not to cast thy vote for the suitable candidates we shall commend unto you......
Oh, well: Let's see what happens in court today !