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TRAGIC LACK OF TOLERANCE FOR PRAYER

SHARE TRAGIC LACK OF TOLERANCE FOR PRAYER

A reluctant decision this week by the Jordan District Board of Education to exclude public prayers at future high school graduations is another instance of one or two individuals using the courts to force everybody else to give up a peaceful and traditional practice.

The decision of the board was an emotional one, but ultimately was based on not wanting to spend scarce education resources in defending a lawsuit filed on behalf of two Brighton High students. That action is understandable but deeply disappointing nonetheless.It is another unfortunate instance of high legal costs causing an entity to surrender rather than fight. The right or wrong of the issue takes a back seat to the expense.

Brian Barnard, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the board went beyond what the lawsuit had sought when it dropped all graduation prayers. He said the suit did not object to the mention of a divine being but wanted prayers to reflect a diversity of religious beliefs in the community.

The lawsuit objected to the words "Jesus Christ" in prayers as being too denominational. In other words, a generic prayer that made no mention of Christ might be acceptable. But what is to stop atheists, or others who may object to any mention of diety, from filing a similar lawsuit? The principle would be the same. Such anti-prayer lawsuits have been filed elsewhere.

At bottom, lawsuits against prayer or public religious expression, while masquerading as seeking tolerance for other viewpoints, are actually a form of intolerance for the views of the majority.

Such people basically are saying that even if they stand alone, everybody else must change - by order of a court - so that public religious practices are either prohibited or conform to their lonely view.

Fortunately, most people are reasonably tolerant of differing religious expressions. That is what America is really about. But there are always a few who essentially are negative, hostile and "anti" in their perceptions and who cannot rest until they have brought the traditions and public practices of others crashing down around them.

This is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Constitution with its guarantees of religious freedom.