DAILY CATHOLIC    THURSDAY     September 2, 1999     vol. 10, no. 166

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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Students Take Matters Into Their Own Hands

        DALLAS, AUG 31, 1999 (ZENIT).- Many would argue that it's hard to find something more sacred to Texans than high school football, and as schools throughout the state kicked off their football season this past week, tensions rose, not on the playing field, but among parents, school administrators and students who reluctantly agreed to follow a recent federal court order which prohibits pregame prayers because they violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

        In the aftermath of the controversial ruling, even Governor George Bush is backing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate pregame prayers which has been a tradition in the Lone Star State for as long as football itself.

        Some school officials have sought to accommodate acceptable alternatives. In New Braunfels, for example, just outside San Antonio, a moment of silence before the kickoff will substitute a formal prayer. In other places, the students have taken matters into their own hands.

        According to the Stephenville "Empire-Tribune," a group of 15 students, led by juniors Joel Allen and Alan Ward, defied the federal court judge's ruling by leading the fans in a voluntary prayer.

        "This was not about football, it was about God. We decided to pray for God." Ward said.

        In the afternoon before the opening game, the students spoke with school superintendent Dr. Larry Butler and Stephenville High School principal Curtis Rhodes, who informed them that, even though they were sympathetic to their cause, it would be best not to carry out any type of prayer and risk a possible lawsuit.

        In order to avoid direct involvement of the school in their "protest", the students obtained a portable speaker system from a local church and were careful not to inform the school's administration of their final plans.

        Dr. Butler later said: "I applaud them for doing something that they feel really strongly about. I think the entire community of Stephenville believes in school prayer ... as a private citizen, I feel a lot of the things that have happened at schools around the country, like at Columbine (Littleton, Colo.), is because what has been taken out of the schools. I believe there are a few in authority who are attempting to make decisions for the masses and I don't think that is right. It is debasing the morals that our country was founded upon," Butler told "The Empire-Tribune."

        No one really seems to recall what the final outcome of the game was last Friday night at Tarleton's Memorial Stadium, but everyone remembers the moment of silence before the game, and the prayer. ZE99083120

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

September 2, 1999       volume 10, no. 166


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