Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Latest Local Brouhaha

Just up the street from where I live, actually just on the other side of Missionary Ridge, Friday night football has turned into a weekly old time tent revival, and it's getting to be that every Friday night another national news organization makes a stop to check out the little local controversy. This week it was the NY Times. Their story of what's going on in Ft. Oglethorpe, Georgia appeared on their website Monday. ABC News was here a few weeks ago and got quite a bit of mileage out of the story -- about the same time as the Associated Press.  It's always a treat when the folks in the big cities take notice of what's happening down here in the sticks.  I think the last time the national media showed such an interest was when someone found a bunch of bodies lying around a local crematorium. This time around the story is church and state. 

After the 9/11 attacks, the cheerleaders at Lakeview-Ft. Oglethorpe High School, who make the big banners the football team runs through to get out on the field, decided that they would start putting Bible verses on said banners. This has been going on ever since -- for nine straight football seasons, long enough for it to become a tradition.

Finally, this season, word came down from the school board -- no more religious messages on the football field. There are still a lot of people who think the whole Bible verse ban came about as the result of a complaint. But no. The Times reporter got it right. The ban came about from a concerned citizen realizing that "Hey, we might get sued for this." The school board consulted some lawyers who agreed. Yes, Bible verses promulgated by a public school-sponsored club at a public school-sponsored event could be grounds for a suit.  Now, in protest of the ban, the messages are gone from the field, but are ubiquitous throughout the stands.

I might have commented on this earlier, but I just don't care that much.  As a godless heathen (or atheist or realist or freethinker),  I'm not driven to get the word out for these folks.  They're doing just fine on their own with their T-shirts and their Facebook page and their national media attention.

Also, as a son of the South, I'm pretty used to this sort of thing.  I could be offended or try to explain why that wall between church and state is necessary, but it's easier just to ignore it until the day it all blows up and/or blows away.

Also, this particular high school was the biggest rival of the high school I attended a few decades ago, and is the biggest rival of the high school that replaced the one I attended.  I could be petty and say that their Bible verses didn't help them while they were getting beat 34-0, but I won't.

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Lisa :-] said...

I wish this stuff didn't have to be so controversial. I am also a godless heathen, but I have no kick with those who believe. As long as they leave ME alone.

They are right...they COULD be sued. So I suppose it made sense for them to ditch the bible verses.

fdtate said...

Yeah, I don't really see much harm in most of this stuff -- a Bible verse on the football field, the 10 commandments hanging in a courthouse, a cross or a Nativity scene on public property, etc. I think, as a godless heathen, I'd be more comfortable attending a game at this particular school with a Bible verse on the run-through banner than what is going on there now, even though they are on safer legal ground now.

I'm afraid that this episode might cause the school board to be voted out in favor of one that is more receptive to going back to the way things were. With the attention they've had, this will almost certainly lead to a lawsuit that will divert education funds to lawyers and plaintiffs. Or maybe this will all eventually die down.

Carly said...

Hi Again :)

Much ado about nothing, sorta. As a Clear Thinking Christian... I don't see the harm, on the otherhand, as a Clear Thinking Human Person, I don't know that it is a good idea to throw GOD into the faces of those who have other beliefs. Trying to force feed anyone, anything, will almost ALWAYS be met with resistance. Plus, unless it is a religous school, the bible verses really don't belong there, especially if it is a public, government funded school.