Sep 26, 2009

Criminalizing Public Prayer

Jonathan FalwellBy Jonathan Falwell

You might want to file the following column under: Hard to Believe Items. Or possibly: Further Evidence of the Cultural Decline of Our Nation.

Here's the story. Last week, following an all-day hearing, a school principal and athletic director from Santa Rosa County, Fla., were cleared of criminal contempt charges relating to a short blessing given prior to a meal.

That's right. A simple prayer resulted in criminal contempt charges.

In this case, we see the extreme nature of those who oppose public religious expression – in this case it is the American Civil Liberties Union – and the extent they will go to punish those who pray or mention the name of Jesus in a public forum.

Principal Frank Lay and Athletic Director Robert Freeman never expected to face such hostilities over the prayer, but they found themselves in the middle of a firestorm. The charges came about after Mr. Lay asked Mr. Freeman to offer the prayer at a luncheon at their school's new field house. Two students complained to the local ACLU, although according to Liberty Counsel, no students were present at the luncheon.

I'm sure similar prayers take place at dedication ceremonies all over the country. But in this case, the ACLU complained to a U.S. district court judge who issued a contempt order for Mr. Lay and Mr. Freeman.

If found guilty, the two could have been sentenced to time in federal prison and fined.

Thankfully, they were cleared of criminal contempt charges. I join with those who were present for the ruling and cheered out across the city. Mathew Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of the Liberty University School of Law, said many people stood all day in the rain to show their support of the men. He said the scene outside the courthouse took on the appearance of a massive revival service.

Following the ruling, Mr. Staver stated,

"I was deeply moved while sitting in the courtroom where allegations against honorable men were made, causing them to be treated like criminals over blessing a meal. For a moment, I felt I must be watching a futuristic movie about how it might one day be if we lose our liberties. But this was real. It was no movie. I have witnessed the day where someone who blesses a meal would be treated like a criminal – not in a communist country, but in our own nation."
That is a striking statement.

There's more. Mr. Staver added that the ACLU is dispatching people to the school to monitor any potential religious activities so they can again report it to the court.

And they say Christians are petty.
"The super-rich, ultraliberal ACLU bullies fully intend to add precedent upon precedent in highly targeted cases like Santa Rosa County until it is a crime to express one's faith in a public setting anywhere in the United States," Mr. Staver concluded.
My friends, the secularists are indeed organized, well funded and have a taste for blood in wiping out public expressions of Christian faith.

In response, I want to urge my readers to begin specifically praying for a number of things. Here's a list:
  1. Pray for Liberty Counsel as it defends the values and freedoms on which our nation was founded.
  2. Pray that the people of God will fall on their knees again and again, beseeching Christ's blessings on this nation we love.
  3. Join with some friends or family members or fellow church members, maybe even your pastor, to jointly pray for our nation and for specific needs like this one in Florida. Right now, think of those you can pray with and set up a time to begin doing so. (Write me and let me know if you begin such a ministry.)
  4. Pray for personal boldness in being a representative of Christ within your family, at your workplace and in the culture.
  5. Finally, pray for our leaders and the coming 2010 elections. We need to elect lawmakers who understand our nation's history and will work to preserve our rights and religious freedoms.

Related Links

Another LAY case - (Timothy Baldwin)
'Faithful' supporters encouraged educators in prayer case - OneNewsNow
Fla. principal, A.D. avoid jail time for school prayer - BPSPORTS.NET
School Officials Cleared of Criminal Contempt Charges in Case Involving Prayer - Christian Newswire
Speechless: Silencing the Christians - Donald Wildmon (Book)
One Great Truth: Finding Your Answers to Life - Jonathan Falwell (Book)