Does the word ‘voluntary’ mean anything to atheists these days? I bet if they asked for volunteers to help protest a Ten Commandments display at a public building that they would welcome them with open arms. However, the thought of people volunteering to pray on their own time and travel with their own cars at the various local public schools is beyond toleration for one atheist organization.
The past couple of years, hundreds of Cullman, Alabama residents have participated in the Prayer Caravan. They meet at one of the area schools and pray for the students and the teachers. Then they all get in their own private vehicles and caravan to the next school where they again pray for the students and teachers. They continue until they hit all of the schools in the area. The event is strictly voluntary and no school funding or facilities are used except the school ground on which the people gather to pray.
This is too much for local atheists to tolerate. People gathering voluntarily to pray for their kids is absolutely outrageous, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. They sent a letter to Billy Coleman, superintendent of the Cullman County Board of Education demanding he put a stop to the event or they will take legal action against the school. FFRF attorney Andrew Seidel, wrote in the letter:
“The ‘Prayer Caravan’ is an especially egregious violation. It does not matter that this event occurs outside normal school hours because prayers at other after-school events such as football games and graduations have been found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Superintendent Coleman, who just happens to be a pastor, said the event will take place on August 10 as it has in previous years. He responded to the demands saying:
“We’re not going to call it off. The community has really rallied around this. It’s a way for people that believe in prayer to lift our kids up.”
“We pray outside the school. The building is never opened. We pray out on the campus – much like they do at the annual ‘See You at the Pole’ rallies.”
Seidel says that it doesn’t matter to them that everyone is there voluntarily. He said:
“Cullman County has a duty to remain neutral toward religion. By scheduling a prayer event, the school district has breached that duty.”
I disagree with him as schools routinely schedule religious meetings on school grounds for a number of different groups. Some new churches rent space to hold services on school facilities and these have to be scheduled on the school calendar of events. Christian clubs have been allowed to use school facilities during non-school hours and again the school has to have these events on their calendars.
What stuck in Seidel’s craw is the letter that went out to local pastors about the Prayer Caravan. Coleman signed the letter with ‘In Christ.’ That is natural for him since he was a pastor before taking over his position as superintendent. In response to Seidel’s criticism of the way he signed the letter, Coleman responded:
“I know that I’m the superintendent, but I also know that I’m a private citizen and just because I’m superintendent, I haven’t lost my rights as an individual to express my faith.”
Seidel also accused the school district of saying the Lord’s Prayer at school events, but Coleman says that is not true.
There is no such thing as religious neutrality or the absence of religion. Atheists have a godless religion and set of beliefs. They believe there is no God just as I believe there is a God. Atheists aren’t asking for the absence of religion, rather they are asking that their religious views are the only acceptable one and that all others are not to be tolerated in public life.
Have you ever heard that saying that when a vacuum is created that something will always tend to fill the void? In an open system, there cannot be a vacuum. Humans are an open system. When one religion is removed, it will be filled with another religion. It is impossible to remain religion free. The problem is that most judges don’t understand this and believe that government can exist without religion. All they accomplish is to replace Christianity with the religion of atheism, something our Founding Fathers never wanted to happen.