Stand-Up Wimpy Christians

(This reportedly appeared in the Oct. 1999 Dallas Morning News.)

I am not a guy who spends much time praying at football games or public school functions. I am the kind of guy who prays during aircraft landings and takeoffs. But it occurs to me that those who profess to feel so strongly about their religion aren't approaching the government ban on praying at school functions correctly. If the need to pray is so fundamental, they should do something about it. Religious belief, usually, is the faith in a supreme being who is all knowing and all powerful. If you are of the opinion that such a being exists, what is your hesitation with praying.... out loud.... at school front of God and everybody? Am I to understand that the secular consequence of school detention, dismissal or arrest on a misdemeanor charge has you more concerned and frightened than the wrath of God?

This is a constitutional republic. The Founding Fathers, in their shortsighted way, set it up so that a small group of federal judges, appointed for life, get to determine the religious behavior of a plurality of the people. That is based on what some would say is a misinterpretation of the Constitution's prohibition against a state- mandated religion. Had the founders known that their First Amendment was going to be so used, I have little doubt that we all now would be members of the Church of England. But what concerns me isn't the 800-pound gorilla of "separation of church and state" sitting on the backs of the churched of this country, daring them to exercise their rights in sight or earshot of a government official. Rather, what has me riled up is the dichotomy between one's belief in an omnipotent God and his fear of our secular laws. If you indeed want the laws of this country to change, you must follow the example of the early Christians and become martyrs to our faith.

Now, I am not advocating putting yourselves in danger of crucifixion or burning at the stake. Another portion of the same Constitution prohibiting little Johnny from praying at graduation forbids the use of cruel and unusual punishment. So get organized. Pray at football games. Face down the persecutors. Fill the detention halls. Empty the classrooms. Overload the jails. Stand up for your beliefs. Or.... sit down and shut up.

People who believe in stupid stuff like animal rights seem to have more certainty in the righteousness of their cause than those who profess to believe that the Son of God came to Earth and died for their sins.

The animal rights zealots will risk their liberty and property for the benefit of a lab rat. Will you not do the same for your eternal soul? I guarantee you that the civil authority will stop enforcing these laws if people break them on a grand scale.

Just by writing this, I put myself on the line. In these times of thought police, hate crimes and religious persecution, people who advocate the breaking of laws are open to reproach, even if the laws seem unjust and the actions taken in violation are peaceful. Mahatma Gandhi didn't worry about going to jail for peaceful protest, and neither should you or I. My philosophy on this issue is put up or shut up. If you don't have the guts to stand up to the civil authority in support of something so profound as your religious faith, let's move on to something we can and are willing to do something about.

Stop whining about no prayers at football games or graduation ceremonies. The world is moving in a direction that isn't in your favor. It will take a dramatic turn of events for things to go your way. That means you can't sit in church on Sunday mornings and simply wring your hands about how terrible it is that the constable won't let you pray to almighty God at the Friday night game. Or, take some action to do something about it. Your choice!

[ Pastor Coy Wylie Cornerstone Church; Amarillo, Texas -- from ]


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