Friday, August 11, 2023

No "Sweet Hour Of Prayer" For These Kids

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The Burnet Consolidated Independent School District in Texas announced on Facebook a “pray to the first day” effort beginning July 26 and ending on the first day of classes, Aug. 16. A Facebook post listed the district’s three elementary schools, its middle school, and two high school campuses as prayer recipients, along with various district administration members and school employees.

The devil was watching. So were the folks from Wisconsin.

Be informed, not misled.

Prayers canceled.

The effort caught the eye of officials with the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wisconsin, prompting Samantha F. Lawrence, the group’s Anne Nicol Gaylor Legal Fellow, to write a letter to Burnet CISD Supt. Keith McBurnett, demanding the district “cease promoting prayer and remove this post from its official social media.”

The Texas school district immediately cut short the three-week prayer campaign after receiving the letter. 

Two things come to mind: First, the school district's leaders understand the power of prayer and were willing to take a stand with the kids in asking for God's blessing to be upon each of the schools in the district.  God bless them for that.

However, when challenged, they quickly caved.

In a letter, Ms. Lawrence said the district “is displaying clear favoritism towards religion over nonreligion by promoting and encouraging prayer.” 

She said the 3,200-student district “serves a diverse community that consists of not only religious students, families, and employees, but also atheists, agnostics, and those who are simply religiously unaffiliated.” The FRFF letter cited U.S. population surveys that reported nonreligious and religiously unaffiliated percentages to back up that claim.

A news release from the atheist  group said Mr. McBurnett responded via email, “The Facebook post has been removed, and the district will refrain from posting anything similar in the future.”

He caved.

He should have spoken with high school football coach Kennedy in Bremerton, Washington, who was fired for praying on the 50-yard line after games but was ultimately vindicated by the US Supreme Court. 

Freedom From Religion Foundation and other groups like them count on Christians caving. They always try to avoid going to court with their threats because Christians have often caved after receiving a single threatening letter. A letter from a lawyer may cost several hundred dollars at most. A trial is very expensive.

Who are these people from Wisconsin?

They self-identify with this statement:

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an American nonprofit organization that advocates for atheists, agnostics, and nontheists. Formed in 1976, FFRF promotes the separation of church and state and challenges the legitimacy of many federal and state programs that are faith-based (Wikipedia).

Founders: Annie Laurie Gaylor, Dan Barker, Anne Nicol Gaylor

About Dan Barker

Dan was born in California. His father, Norman Barker, a professional trombonist, played with Hoagy Carmichael and appeared in a cameo with Judy Garland in the movie "Easter Parade." His mother, Patricia, was a talented amateur singer, and the family often used music in their evangelism ministry.

Yes, Dan Barker was raised in a Christian ministry home.

He became a piano player and songwriter and went on mission trips with his youth group to Mexico and elsewhere as a teenager. To help with the ministry, he became fluent in Spanish.

He attended Asuza Pacific College, majoring in religion. Ordained by a Christian congregation, he worked as an assistant pastor in several evangelical churches in Southern California.

He continued writing and producing Christian music. Manna Music and other Christian publishing houses produced many of his songs and two Christian children's musicals.

During the 1970s, he was active in Los Angeles city-wide ministry outreaches, of which there were many. This was during the Jesus Revolution period. One of the outreaches was the premier of the Christian musical "Jesus People Come Together" written by Jimmy and Carol Owens and premiered in the Los Angeles Forum by a two thousand-voice youth choir made up of participating churches from the area---including our youth choir from the North Hollywood church.

Pat Boone and his family sang the lead and solo parts of the musical. It was impactful.

I'm not certain, but as I recall, I'm pretty sure Dan was at the piano. He is a very good musician and was well known in the evangelical community.


Dan says in his early 30s, he started a course of reading in science, liberal theology, and rationalism that led to "an intense inner conflict."

Finally, he says, "I just lost faith in faith." 

In 1983, he publicly denounced Christianity.

He joined the staff of the Freedom From Religion Foundation in 1987, where he has served as public relations director, becoming co-president when he married co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor in 2004, after divorcing his first wife.

He has four children from his first marriage and a daughter with Gaylor.

FFRF published his book Losing Faith in Faith (1992), as well as three freethought/humanist/ atheist books for children, including Just Pretend.

He continues to "just pretend" there is no God while trying to strip every vestige of Christianity from our culture. 

If there is no God, why do we resist Him so strongly?

Some of his more recent books are titled: Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, foreword by Richard Dawkins, The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God, and Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning.

Dan Barker is probably best known for a statement he made in his book Losing Faith In Faith, “I threw out the bath water, and there was no baby there.”

Memo to Dan: There is a baby, but He's all grown up now. He's coming again as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He died for your sins because He loves you. And I think you already know that. Please reconsider.

How far will secularists go in their rebellion against God?

Perhaps the UK gave us a glimpse recently.

A former British army reservist is set to face a Nov. 16 trial on criminal charges arising from his silent prayer near an abortion clinic in Bournemouth, England, a British court said Wednesday.

Adam Smith-Connor stood silently with his head bowed and his back to the clinic on Ophir Road in the coastal resort town. A statement from his lawyers said the man “was praying silently for those facing difficult decisions relating to abortion, as well as praying regarding the child that he lost to an abortion that he now regrets paying for.”

Initially, he was fined $127 but was later criminally charged with breaching a public spaces protection order covering the clinic and surrounding area. Council enforcement officers told him he was being fined because of “the prayer that you’ve admitted to.”

Outside the courthouse, Mr. Smith-Connor broke down in tears during his statement. He said he “stood silently” near the facility and “did not approach anyone [and] did not speak to anyone.”

A local lawyer says, "This case, the third such action in Britain this year, raises the specter of 'thought crime' prosecutions in other areas."

“Once you introduce content-based criminal prosecutions based on what somebody is thinking, then there really is no logical endpoint,” he said. “Because anything, any viewpoint that goes against the prevailing norms of society today may well change to something else tomorrow.”

Be Informed. Be Discerning. Be Courageous. Be Faithful. Be Bold. Be Prayerful.