Georgia admins vote ‘no’ on cheerleaders’ Bible-laced banners

Georgia school board upholds policy banning Bible banners

This from Associated Baptist Press:

RINGGOLD, Ga. — A school board in far northern Georgia upheld a policy Oct. 13 banning cheerleaders from displaying religious banners on the field at high-school football games.

Supporters of the signs, banned Sept. 28 by a superintendent who had been told by a Ringgold, Ga., woman that they violate federal law, rallied outside the first school-board meeting since the decision. They then packed the meeting room with a crowd estimated by local media at between 80 and 100 people strong.

Renzo Wiggins, attorney for Catoosa County Public Schools, told spectators the tradition of having football players at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School burst onto the field through paper signs displaying Bible verses violated the First Amendment’s ban on government endorsement of religion… read more

Bible verse ban spawns ‘wave of support for Christ’

This from OneNewsNow.com:

Despite a large public outcry over its decision to censor Bible verse banners held by high school football cheerleaders on the playing field, a Georgia school board is refusing to change its mind. However, the controversial policy has compelled many students to passionately defend their free-speech rights and proclaim their Christian beliefs…

…Many Christian parents and students in the community have voiced their disapproval of the ban by wearing “Warriors for Christ” T-shirts to football games and displaying scores of posters with Bible verses. And the Board’s decision on Tuesday night came despite another round of pleas from Christian parents who attended the meeting… read more

Georgia: H.S. students make a statement of faith

Student body, football players remain ‘Warriors for Christ’ despite Bible-verses ban

Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School

Students at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School in Georgia were not going to let issues of church and state deter them from making a statement Friday night…

READ FULL STORY AT LA CHURCH & STATE EXAMINER

Friday night lights go dim on Bible verses

Georgia school district bans banners with words from the Bible at high school football games

cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School

For six years or so, cheerleaders at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School in Georgia have painted elaborate paper banners, adorned with Bible verses, through which football players have dashed at the outset of games, writes AJC Political Insider Jim Galloway.

For instance, recently, from Philippians 3:14: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me in Christ Jesus.”

After receiving a complaint, the Catoosa County school system cracked down… full story

Prayer For Rain: Honesty, Taunts, and an Embarrassed Georgian

A quick jaunt into today’s takes on Georgia’s prayer for rain event led by Gov. Sonny Perdue

Don’t dare spin God
This from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Political Insider feature:

The ‘up’ side of Sonny Perdue’s prayer service

Many of you secular humanists have had a good chuckle at Gov. Sonny Perdue’s pray-for-rain service on the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday.

But allow us to point out that, regardless of any future precipitation, the public has already benefited from the experience. It was allowed to eavesdrop on some honest admissions of failure, which by themselves — given the location — should be viewed as minor miracles.

In his prayer, the Rev. Gil Watson, pastor of Northside United Methodist Church, said this:

“We have not been good stewards of our land. We have not been good stewards of our water,” he said.

And Gov. Sonny Perdue said this:

“We acknowledge our wastefulness. We acknowledge that we haven’t done the things we need to do. Father, forgive us and lead us to honor you as you honor us with the showers of blessing.”

You can spin some of the people all of the time, and you can spin all of the people some of the time. But you don’t dare spin God.

Perhaps we should think about turning the next legislative session into a giant, 40-day prayer service.

“Is it raining yet?”
This from the Los Angeles Times news story:

Georgia governor leads prayer for rain

ATLANTA — Bowing his head outside the Georgia Capitol on Tuesday, Gov. Sonny Perdue cut a newly repentant figure as he publicly prayed for rain to end the region’s historic drought.

“Oh father, we acknowledge our wastefulness,” Perdue said. “But we’re doing better. And I thought it was time to acknowledge that to the creator, the provider of water and land, and to tell him that we will do better.”

Hundreds of Georgians — ministers and lawmakers, landscapers and office workers — gathered in downtown Atlanta for the prayer vigil. Some held bibles and crucifixes. Many swayed and linked arms as a choir sang “What a Mighty God We Serve” and “Amazing Grace.”

As Perdue described it, “We have come together, very simply, for one reason and one reason only: To very reverently and respectfully pray up a storm.”

and…

About a block way, more than 20 protesters — some carrying placards saying “All hail Sonny Perdue” and “Is it raining yet?” — joined a rally organized by the Atlanta Freethought Society. The vigil, they said, violated the principle of separation of church and state.

And finally, the I hate that I come from Georgia where Jesus freaks do stupid things college student story…or the like, I am so like, totally embarrassed that people prayed like, on the Capitol steps…I mean, oh, my God! (can I say that?) story.

This from an associate editor of The Red & Black, which is a paper serving the University of Georgia community:

Rain vigil not a practical solution

If there’s one thing Georgia’s good at, it’s perpetuating a stereotype. There are plenty of people out there that think Georgia is a backward state full of rednecks and Jesus freaks. And as a whole, we haven’t done too much to convince them otherwise.

I’ve lived in Georgia all my life and I always try to defend my state, but let’s face it – it’s difficult amid the shrapnel of embarrassments flying around during the last few years.

Remember when we had three state flags in two years? The argument over the state flag, a major issue in Gov. Sonny Perdue’s first campaign, spun out of control and revealed how reluctant we were to give up the confederate emblem.

And who can forget the hearty belly laugh the nation had on our behalf after the evolution incident in the Cobb County school system?

To cap it all off, Tuesday morning Perdue held a public prayer vigil for rain on the front steps of the state capitol. The event was also hosted by Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Representative Melvin Everson along with leaders from various religious institutions.

A public prayer vigil is an inappropriate way to deal with the problems we face from the drought and is a cheap political tactic.

Separation of church and state is a founding principle in America.

Though they often bleed together, we at least try to project that we have a secular government.

As an elected official, Perdue disregarded the principle of separation of church and state by organizing a religious event, and had the brass to do so at a government building.

I firmly believe that religion is a personal matter and always have respected people with strong beliefs. If the governor wants to pray for rain, he has a constitutionally protected right to do so.

However, as an elected official he should do so with members of his church – at his church. Prayer has no place on the steps of the capitol.

Georgia is home to a diverse and progressive population that deserves better from our politicians.

Tuesday’s vigil was a slap in the face to anyone who has worked hard to find practical solutions to help Georgia during this drought. Instead of praying for rain, Perdue, Cagle and others need to spend their time and resources on more immediate and realistic solutions to the drought.

Recovering from our water deficit will be difficult, and it will take time to get out of a drought state.

Conservation needs to become a way of life. The state needs to offer incentives to those who install water saving devices, like toilets that use less water and receptacles for collecting rainwater.

There also should be strict financial penalties for water wasters. We can pray until our knees bleed, but only when we come together and work to conserve our remaining water will we be able to get by until the skies finally open up.

- Melissa Weinman is the associate news editor of The Red & Black.

Weinman, my dear, sometimes prayer is the only thing to do! I pray your grass is always green and your showers are at full strength! And one more thing…that someday you will not be so embarrased to live in a state with so many people that believe in Jesus Christ!

Can I hear a Hallelujah?

–Alexander, TheScroogeReport

Freethought Society Leads Protest Against Prayer For Rain

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue’s call to pray on the steps of the state Capitol for rain to alleviate a drought upsets secular groups

Church and State

This from Associated Press:

ATLANTA – As Georgia descends deeper into drought, Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered water restrictions, launched a legal battle and asked President Bush for help. Today, the governor will call on a higher power.

He will join lawmakers and ministers on the steps of the state Capitol to pray for rain.

While public prayer vigils might raise eyebrows in other parts of the nation, they are mostly shrugged off in the Bible Belt, where turning to the heavens for help is common and sometimes even politically expedient.

“Christianity has more of a place in the culture here than in some other region,” said Ray Van Neste, a professor of Christian studies at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. “And it’s only natural, in a way, for the public to pray for rain.”

Perdue won’t be the first governor to hold a call for public prayer during the epic drought gripping the Southeast. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley issued a proclamation declaring a week in July as “Days of Prayer for Rain” to “humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty.”

The loudest opposition to Perdue’s move has come from the Atlanta Freethought Society, a secular group that is expecting about a dozen of its 125 members to protest at the vigil.

“The governor can pray when he wants to,” said Ed Buckner, who is organizing the protest. “What he can’t do is lead prayers in the name of the people of Georgia.”

Political heavyweights outside the U.S. are known to occasionally plead to the heavens for rain. In May, Australian Prime Minister John Howard asked churchgoers to pray for rain in hopes of snapping a drought that has devastated crops and bankrupted farmers Down Under.

In the U.S., public expressions of faith are often discouraged as a breach of the separation of church and state.

Thomas Jefferson, for one, resisted calls for a federal day of prayer. But he was an exception. From George Washington, who declared “a day of prayer and thanksgiving,” to Harry Truman, who established a National Day of Prayer, American politicians have not been shy about associating themselves with petitions to the Almighty.

With rivers and reservoirs dropping to dangerously low levels across the region, a prayer rally at a high school football stadium in the Georgia town of Watkinsville drew more than 100 worshippers last week, and a gospel concert dedicated to rain attracted hundreds more two weeks ago at an Atlanta church.

“We need to try a different approach,” said Rocky Twyman, who organized the concert. “We need to call on God, because what we’re doing isn’t working. We think that instead of all this fussing and fighting, Gov. Perdue and all these others would come together and pray.”

A Baptist, Perdue has several times mentioned the need for prayer—along with water conservation—as the crisis has worsened. Over the summer, he participated in a day of prayer for agriculture at a gathering of the Georgia Farm Bureau.

Again, the paranoia over separation of church and state, has led some to misconstrue the Constitution to mean the government should not support any expressions of faith. However, it is religion that should not be endorsed. That does not mean a squelching of the right to express faith…something completely different than religion.

Atlanta Freethought Society’s Press Release:

The Governor of Georgia, Sonny Perdue, has called for a prayer service on the Capitol grounds, Washington Street side, at 11:45 am. on Tuesday, 13 November 2007 to pray for rain. This is embarrassingly foolish, a great mistake, a waste of taxpayer money, and unconstitutional on its face.

The Atlanta Freethought Society, along with the two biggest and best national organizations for freethinkers, the Council for Secular Humanism (headquarters in Amherst NY), and the Freedom From Religion Foundation (headquarters in Madison WI)–will engage in a polite and peaceful protest on next Tuesday, 13 November at the Georgia Capitol Building in downtown Atlanta (Washington Street near the intersection with Martin Luther King Drive SW–the north corner of the Capitol grounds), from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

A major reason for protesting is the egregious violation of church-state separation that the Governor of Georgia is leading at the Capitol at that hour flouting the First Amendment and the Georgia Constitution.

This protest will be directed at the Governor’s actions on the basis both of violations of religious liberty and on the basis of absurd religious ideas.

Deeply religious Christians and other believers should take offense at this as bad religion and as a threat to religious liberty.

Deeply irreligious Georgians should take offense that someone representing us should engage in such illogical nonsense, with the potential to embarrass us all internationally.

Georgians of all religious or irreligious beliefs and of every political philosophy should take offense at this waste of our tax dollars and plain violation of separation of church and state and of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and straightforward violation of the Georgia Constitution, Article I, Section II, Paragraph VI:
“Paragraph VI. Separation of church and state. No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.”

A rally permit has been approved by the Georgia Building Authority on Friday, 9 November. Endorsements by other organizations may be forthcoming.

_______________ 

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