When the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a cease-and-desist letter to the the Superintendent of the West Branch Local School District in an attempt to force district to end its long-held tradition of praying before sporting events, the atheists probably expected immediate compliance and for that to be the end of it.
The atheist group was half right. But what they failed to anticipate was the spirit of the community in Beloit, Ohio.
When the superintendent received the cease-and-desist letter, the district stopped tradition of prayer before sporting events.
According to The Daily Signal, school officials said they couldn’t afford a lawsuit.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation was quick to crow victory.
“We’re pleased the public school district took quick action to halt the practice of inflicting coercive Christian prayers before what is essentially a captive audience,” Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said, according to Fox News.
“Public school students should not be expected to pray to play.”
But then the community got involved in a big way — and the atheist group got an epic surprise.
West Branch Superintendent Timothy Saxton called his district a “deep-rooted Christian and faith-based community,” according to Fox News, noting that, “The only opposition that I have had anyone voice to me is through this letter. If anything we’ve had a strong positive show of support.”
Marcie Curry, a parent, would seem to lend support to that assessment.
“They don’t know us, have never attended a West Branch sporting event or even stepped foot in our community. Yet they believe they can tell us to stop one of our cherished, long-standing community traditions. That just doesn’t seem right,” she said, according to Fox News.
Parents Brooke and Brandy Pidgeon decided to take matters into their own hands, selling over 4,000 “Prayer Matters” T-shirts with the help of a few volunteers.
That number may not seem enormous until one takes into account that fewer than 1,000 people live in Beloit, according to Fox News.
Sporting events have been flooded with spectators sporting the shirts, and those shirts have started more conversations than the prayer that was eliminated did in the first place.
“Everybody’s really coming together in support of the prayer issue, and we’re having more conversations about prayer and about the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, than we’ve ever had before,” said the Paul Ryser, senior pastor of Damascus Friends Church in the neighboring town of Damascus.
The First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit law firm working for religious freedom, is currently investigating the matter on behalf of the community, according to Fox News.
Until then, I’d say that the West branch High School community has things well in hand.
Now, we’re all about freedom of religion — that’s a God-given right of every American.
But that’s not what the Freedom From Religion Foundation is fighting for. The group is fighting to stick it to Christians. For crying out loud, read Gaylor’s words.
The thought that an audience at an athletic event are prisoners being brainwashed into talking with the Almighty is idiotic, and the backlash against the uprooting of an old school tradition has been massive.
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