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DARRELL HUCKABY: Freedom of religion, not freedom from religion

It was a small blurb on the back page of an online publication I was reading. A kid had been injured in a high school football game down in Florida. It was actually the head coach’s son.

We’ve all seen that scenario play out. Both teams gathered around the player in a show of good sportsmanship and a prayer is offered up for healing. It happens every Friday night here in the Deep South — many, many times. It happens on Saturdays, too.

But this particular prayer drew the ire of a bunch of folks up in Wisconsin, of all places, who are threatening all sorts of legal action because the Seminole High School football team in Sanford, Fla., has a team chaplain and that team chaplain led a prayer for the coach’s son. According to these nitwits two egregious errors occurred. The first was that students were under the direction of non-school personnel. The second was that an adult led them in prayer.

Do what?

I did a little research on this group, which calls themselves the Freedom From Religion Foundation. I took a look at their web page and you wouldn’t believe all the stuff they have posted. Or maybe you would. After all, the 21st century hasn’t been particularly kind to Christians around the world so far.

These folks call themselves “free thinkers” and claim to be “the nation’s largest association of … (atheists, agnostics, and skeptics.) They brag that “since 1978, FFRF has acted on countless violations of the separation of state and church, and has won many significant complaints and important lawsuits to end state/church entanglements.”

Also on their website are pleas for other “freethinkers” to “come out of the closet.” Oh, guess what else they want from the general public. Money.

They have a place that you can click to donate to their cause, which is expressed on their website in this way “If you have had it up to here with faith-based initiatives, creationism and clerical prying into our private lives, FFRF is the organization for you. This scrappy group brings lawsuits against church-state entanglements and puts up witty billboards and bus signs promoting, well, freedom from religion. Reason’s Greetings!”

A person named Katha Pollitt was credited with writing that.

Witty billboards and bus signs. That’s where I want to send my hard-earned money because we certainly don’t want anyone being prayed over while they lie injured on a football field down in Florida, do we?

They have lots of ways you can give, too. You can use your credit card to give anywhere from $25 to $10,000 or more to their Summer Solstice fund, which they say they use wherever it is needed most.

Or you can give to their building fund. They will put your name of a paving stone for $1,000. Perry Rogers put my name on one for a mere C-note at Salem Campground. I got 10 for a grand. You can get a prominent lobby plaque for five large and the largest contributor gets to name a building.

For $40 you can join this scrappy outfit. I’m guessing they would prefer checks or credit cards to cash because I am certain they wouldn’t want that nasty green stuff that has “In God We Trust” printed on it.

I examined this organization’s website closely and it appears to be that they don’t stand for anything. They are simply against things. They are against the church. They are against anyone believing in creationism. They are against prayer and preachers and peace-loving people who think that faith-based initiatives are better than the government dispensing folks’ money.

How did we get to this point? How did we get to a place, as a nation, where 20,000 people from an organization based 1,000 miles from Sanford, Fla., get their binders in a wad over a brief prayer that occurred on a football field?

I know! I know! It’s the principle of the thing! The next thing you know someone could be praying right there in their own back yard. These folks are scared to death that the non-existent Constitutional separation of church and state is being violated.

“Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” That’s your Constitution. Activist judges in the ’50s might have interpreted this to mean that you can’t pray over a kid at a football game in Sanford, Fla., but I don’t believe our Founding Fathers had that in mind.

I am really concerned about the lost souls that are members of the FFRF. I think that I am going to pray for them. I’m pretty sure I have the right under the Freedom of Speech part of the First Amendment.