The stories continue to pop up every year or so. It seems that teachers, principals, school employees and coaches are doing things that literally threaten to destroy western civilization as we know it. It's hard to believe that all around our nation, parents willingly allow their children to be taught by these heinous people. How could a sane mother or father even consider putting their child under the tutelage of someone such as this.
It's happening all over.
Teachers, coaches and sometimes even principals are daring to . . .are you ready for this? They are bowing their heads.
I know, I know, you're upset. You cannot believe this is happening. Thoughts like "What is this world coming to?" run through your mind. It's a travesty.
The latest evil culprits were football coaches in Sumner County, Tennessee. This is the county where my brother lives, so he alerted me to this story last night. Apparently, the players on this local public middle school team gathered for a student-originated, student-led prayer time. The coaches were there as well, not leading, but they dared to bow their heads while the students prayed.
That's right. Bowed their heads.
And that's what started the fire.
Channel 4 (WSMV) in Nashville covered the story. Here's a portion of their coverage. . .
During a student-originated, student-led prayer, four coaches bowed their heads. They didn't say a word.
But the principal and the district found out.
"We've been telling our principals to kind of be looking for those things, because that is kind of a shift in how things have been done," Sumner County Schools spokesperson Jeremy Johnson said. "It can in no way appear like it's endorsed by Sumner County Schools personnel."
Channel 4 asked if bowing one's head qualified as endorsing.
"It depends on what it looks like," he said. "That's where you kind of get into the gray area that we're having to deal with."
Each coach had to sign a letter stating he understood the district's revised policy.
Staff can be there when students pray but can not appear to take part, even outside school hours.
Of course, people in the community were shocked. Some are angry. Some who haven't stepped foot in a church for decades will claim to be Christians just to have something to argue about, no less.
This is just the most recent story. There are high-profile stories similar to this every year. Now, public school employees and legal advisors, even in our county, are instructing coaches and teachers to step back, not close their eyes and not to bow their heads for fear of being sued. The Sumner County policy was put in place following a lawsuit brought to the district alleging violations of the "separation of church and state" by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.)
I am a supporter of our local schools. I support our teachers, administrators, coaches and all in our community committed to serve and lead our children. Our church has been supportive for years and connected with our local schools strategically as a "business partner."
The initial reaction when I read stories like this is to get angry and to focus too much on the politics of the battle. The focus I must have, and we must have as children of God is the Gospel.
David Landrith is the Pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, located in Sumner County. On his blog this morning, he shares some solid truths regarding this story.
Regarding the ACLU lawsuit, I believe the school system is headed in the wrong direction. In my opinion, they have made two serious mistakes:
First, they have over-reacted out of the fear of a lawsuit. Because of this fear, they are instituting policies that are unnecessary and that I believe are unconstitutional. The irony is that in responding to the ACLU’s claims in an excessive way, they may actually be violating the First Amendment rights of teachers and students.
The idea that a coach or teacher cannot bow their head out of respect for student-led prayer is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Additionally, to tell the teachers that they cannot attend “See You At The Pole,” which occurs before school hours, just doesn’t seem to be constitutional. Maybe the ACLU should represent the teachers!
Secondly, there is a lack of clarity in what the actual policies are. As the rules are handed down the line, there have been all kinds of prohibitions communicated. The student pastors of our county were told one thing in a meeting that is not always the practice at schools in the county.
I don’t know if these are official policies or not, but teachers have expressed to me that it is being communicated to them that they cannot do certain things; things like to wear or display a cross, have a Bible on their desk in their office, have scripture verses displayed in their personal work space, listen to Christian music in their office, or participate in a prayer at a Christian organization such as FCA or Bible study.
Maybe this is official policy and maybe it is not. If it is, again it seems to be a violation of the teachers’ First Amendment rights on the free exercise of religion. If it is not, someone should make clear to the teachers and the community what teachers can and cannot do.
This the United States of America! You can’t ban people from practicing their faith in the marketplace – whether it’s a Muslim, Buddhist, or a Christian. Christianity should not be favored over other religions. However, Christians should have the same rights as everyone else.
I agree with David and he spells this out more in his blog post here.
While I read this stories and think "Wow! That's unbelievable!" the realization comes to me that it will just be a matter of time when we are facing the very same thing here in our county. Remember, it wasn't that long ago that Bartram Trail High School in St. Johns County was in the news for similar reasons. There was also the story out of Pensacola regarding the athletic director and school principal.
Now, I'm not hoping this happens. I know our school district leaders are praying, oops. . . hoping it never happens. I'm no prophet, but . . . it will happen. This is more than a political battle. It's more than a Constitutional issue (BTW - the separation of church and state is not in the Constitution.) It's a spiritual issue.
Pray for our schools, our teachers, administrators, coaches and all employees in the school district. Those who are believers in Christ cannot just "turn that belief off" when they go to work. Pray for them.
Makes you wonder if men like Tony Dungy or Joe Gibbs would have been able to coach high school football, doesn't it? The photo above is of Dungy and his Indianapolis Colts praying together in the locker room.