21 Oct Personal Conviction or Government Control?
Human nature never fails to produce threats to freedom. Strong convictions are a necessary defense against governments, groups, institutions, and individuals who seek dominance over others. Conviction is merely a firmly held belief or opinion. I believe some of the strongest convictions are produced by religious beliefs. As I was scrolling through the news the other day I came across two stories of strong conviction.
Joe Kennedy is the assistant football coach at Bremerton High in Washington State. For several years now Joe has been in the habit of walking to the 50 yard line at the end of the game and offering a prayer of thanks. This is not something he requires or expects of his students. He simply wishes to express his thanks to his God. Last month the school district launched a formal investigation into Coach Kennedy’s actions. Last week the schools superintendent informed the coach that all staff must refrain from religious expression while on duty. This meant he was not allowed to pray, make any references to religion in the locker rooms, nor was he allowed to kneel or bow his head. The school district claimed that those acts were all in violation of the 1st Amendment. Though the 1st Amendment was designed to help protect our most fundamental rights it is now most often used to destroy them. Fortunately there are still Americans who are willing to stand by their convictions and fight for their freedom. Coach Kennedy decided that he would be “bold in his faith and fight a good fight!” Following the homecoming game Friday night Coach Kennedy walked to the 50 yard line, just as he had every game for years, knelt and offered a prayer of thanks. Slowly the opposing team began to surround him as well as people from the stands. Coach Kennedy is not alone in his fight for religious freedom.
Also in the news this week was a story about the football team at the University of Utah. Twenty students on the football team had expressed an interest in attending LDS religion classes but due to their busy schedules they did not have the time. In order to accommodate the students requests the coaches began to offer some LDS Institute classes at times that fit better with the players practice schedules. The students voluntarily go, they are not required nor encouraged. The students have thus far really enjoyed the opportunity to attend the religion classes. They enjoy the fact that the coaches teach it because they often incorporate football analogies, something the players respond very well to. On the 19th the University president received a letter from an organization called “Americans United for the Separation of Church and State” asking the University to stop the religion classes. Once again they claimed that the classes where in violation of the 1st Amendment. At this point the University has not issued a response.
These are just two of many stories of Americans who are under attack for their religious convictions. Religion plays a vital role in democracy. In order for a democracy to thrive the people must be disciplined by their personal convictions. If the people do not demonstrate self-control then they will experience government control. Self-control is driven by personal convictions. Generally our personal convictions originate from two places, our homes and our religions. America is experiencing a war on religion. In the end it will be those who have strong personal conviction that will walk away with their liberty in tack. The question is, are there enough who are willing to stand?