Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Forced to Decline

An Evangelical Christian Learns that Public Prayer Sucks When You Are the Minority

World Net Daily posted a letter from Gary Christenot (ironic name?) who wrote about public prayer at a high school football game.

G.C. starts by giving his conservative Christian credentials, saying "If a school administrator had ever tried to stop one of my kids from carrying a Bible, participating in voluntary prayer, or openly discussing their faith with another student, I would have sued him back in to the Stone Age."

He then goes on to tell a story about the time he went to a high school football game in Hawaii and wasn't "surprised" when all were asked to stand for the invocation (prayer):

But to our extreme dismay, the clergyman who took the microphone and began to pray was not a Protestant minister or a Catholic priest, but a Buddhist priest who proceeded to offer up prayers and intonations to god-head figures that our tradition held to be pagan. We were frozen in shock and incredulity! What to do? To continue to stand and observe this prayer would represent a betrayal of our own faith and imply the honoring of a pagan deity that was anathema to our beliefs. To sit would be an act of extreme rudeness and disrespect in the eyes of our Japanese hosts and neighbors, who value above all other things deference and respect in their social interactions.

Claiming that it would be rude to not participate, G.C. explained that he and his wife never went to another football game again:

Needless to say that was our first and last football game. Although many of the students we worked with continued to invite us to the games, we were forced to decline. We knew that if we were to attend again we would be forced to abstain from the pre-game activity. And not wanting to offend our Asiatic neighbors and colleagues, we simply refrained from attending.

One thing that really amazes me about his story, is how unprepared he was to be a minority:

Yet when placed in a setting where the majority culture proved hostile to my
faith and beliefs, I became paralyzed with indecision and could not act decisively to defend and proclaim my own beliefs. I felt instantly ostracized and viewed myself as a foreigner in my own land.

So how did he feel when he found himself in a situation of being in the (religious) minority?

  • extreme dismay
  • frozen in shock and incredulity
  • forced to decline (participation)
  • paralyzed with indecision
  • ostracized and viewed myself as a foreigner in my own land

It's amazing what happens when the majority becomes the minority. Imagine if non-Christian Americans had such extreme reactions as he did whenever they found themselves faced with Christianity and Christians. Would they feel ostracized and like a foreigner in their own land every time Christmas came around? Would they be forced to decline participation in anything that had any reference to the Judeo-Christian God? "In God We Trust" would force them to avoid using cash.

Again, what I find so amazing about his story is how strange and upsetting it was when he became a "minority." He was obviously so not used to the experience that he hadn't even contemplated the idea and was unprepared for it. That is the problem when those in the majority try to make their personal beliefs part of the public process. They are so used to being in the majority that they have absolutely no idea what it might feel like to be the minority. Public prayer sounds great to them because it is what they feel comfortable with. They don't even imagine how it might feel to the minority. What happens when Christianity is pushed into the American Public? Are non-Christians "forced to decline" being a part of America?


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