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by Charles Colson
The only surprise over the Supreme Court's most recent school prayer decision is that anybody is surprised.
In a six-to-three vote, the Court ruled that school districts cannot let students lead voluntary public prayer before football games. The case involved a Texas school district, which allowed students to vote on whether to have a pre-game prayer.
This latest decision banning God from the public square can evoke many emotions in Christians, but surprise shouldn't be one of them. Making students unwilling agents of the secular state started back in 1962, when the Court banned God from the classroom. If God is not allowed there -- at the epicenter of intellectual life -- then surely He doesn't belong at other school events.
This is the natural progression of secular humanism, and it won't stop at football games because this Supreme Court is no longer a neutral arbiter of matters involving religion. It is a hostile opponent.
And who, by the way, says that censorship of voluntary student speech will stop at religion?
Well, it was the Court's seething antagonism toward religion that prompted Chief Justice William Rehnquist's scathing denunciation of the majority ruling, the likes of which are rarely heard in those hallowed chambers. It "bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life," Rehnquist wrote on behalf of Justices Thomas and Scalia, who joined him in dissent.
The Court's crude opposition to religion was even more evident in a separate but little noticed case handed down the same day.
The Court ruled against a Louisiana school district that tried to resolve the controversy between the teaching of evolution and creationism. While evolution is taught in the classroom, the school board instructed teachers to tell students that "the scientific theory of evolution . . . was not intended to influence or dissuade the biblical version of creation." The students were urged to form their own opinions or adopt those of their parents.
Straightforward enough. But suggesting that evolution is a theory and that students may want to listen to their parents was too much for this Court, and so this innocuous disclaimer has been declared unconstitutional.
Such hostility to all things religious in public life, to use Justice Rehnquist's words, is broad and deep across the land, from courts to Hollywood.
So what's the Christian response? First, know your history. The courts and politicians can ignore history, but they can't change it. The founders of our country made it clear that religion in public life was essential. To quote John Adams, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people."
Then we must involve ourselves in the political process, from school boards to the White House, because God didn't put us here to cower. The next president could appoint four Supreme Court justices, enough to turn the tide -- so watch what the candidates say.
And third, maybe we should let the Court know it has gone too far. The Court was never intended to be the final authority of what is or is not constitutional. Many good Texans, I suspect, will go to football games this fall and defy the Court's order.
What a sight it would be if stadiums filled with God-fearing citizens rose to their feet and recited together the Lord's Prayer. Can you imagine the pictures in the national press of citizens being dragged off by the police -- for praying? Maybe that's what it will take to wake us up.
Football fans in Texas, take note.