|Bell County High School football|
In actual fact, we constantly live under the shadow of the burqa here in the U.S. A recent news article on Kentucky.com (here) reports on events in Bell County where by long-standing tradition, a minister led the crowd in prayer before high school football games. Bell County, Kentucky, is Bible belt country, and no one seemed to mind. Praying before the game was an expression of local beliefs and culture. Apparently, however, one or two families objected and eventually an outside group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, became involved. According to its website, the FFRF is an advocacy agency for "nontheistic" concerns that has engaged in many courts cases with the goal of ending "state/church entanglements."
The FFRF has a point, which is that our government is secular, a choice made for us by our founding fathers. They had seen the ills of state supported religion first hand and did not want it for their children's nation. In America, at least, governmental agencies have no business promoting religion. That's a good point. Another good point is that apparently the large majority of folks in Bell County think of themselves as people of faith. It is perfectly acceptable to ask a minister to pray before football games. Those who don't want to pray don't have to—just wait a moment & it'll be over. No harm, no foul. It is, furthermore, an outside agency that promotes a religious agenda, so-called "nontheism," that has threatened the school district with a lawsuit if the practice of praying before football games continues. The point is that in this regard not praying is also a religious choice.
It is, you see, complicated. The games are public events staged by a local government agency, the public high school. By law, the school can't promote religion. Granted. But, it would seem that the choice to pray or not to pray is a religious choice and not praying promotes a religious position as much as praying does. In the end, the FFRF apparently stands on more solid legal ground, and we have to accept that fact. We probably should do so graciously and gracefully. Still, it seems like a culturally intrusive thing and not entirely fair to the good folks of Bell County. Living in the shadow of the burqa is complicated.