April 23, 2008
So everyone who acknowledges Me before men, I also will acknowledge before My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 10:32
There are times when I just don't understand.
Last week a federal appeals court ruled a New Jersey school board had the right to tell their football coach he cannot kneel or bow his head when members of his team have a student-led, pre-game prayer.
One judge said, "Since the coach used to lead prayers, people would think he was endorsing praying." A second judge said it didn't make any difference if the coach once lead prayers or not; his kneeling and bowing would show approval of religion.
Understand, the coach wasn't advocating any special religion. He wasn't asking to lead the prayers himself. As far as I know, he wasn't assigning students to lead those prayers. He just wanted to bow his head and kneel with his team. According to the court, he can't do that anymore.
What he can do is turn around, or look straight ahead, or not be present, or pretend nothing is happening, or keep on talking, or do anything he wants to do other than bow his head and kneel down.
Please understand, I'm not endorsing mandatory prayer in public school classrooms or in any endorsed state school sports program.
I am saying that many, if not all, of the options seemingly available to the coach may look as if he's against religion. If that is so, the pendulum, rather than stopping at a neutral spot, may actually have swung to the anti-religion side.
The coach is caught between a rock and a hard place. The court says, "Don't do anything religious." Jesus says, "Acknowledge Me before men."
What will the coach do? Whom will he follow? As Christians, the answer is easy: we must obey God rather than men. The choice may get cloudy if you have a family to support. It's the same cloudiness confronting students when they realize their grades may depend on them giving an un-Christian answer on a test or final; it is the same cloudiness many businessmen face when they know promotions don't always go to honest men and women.
Since there are so many who are being forced to take a hard stand, I would invite you to join me in prayer. Let us ask the Lord to give these people direction and strength to witness to the Savior who gave His life so they might be forgiven and saved.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, the days of persecution did not end when the last apostle breathed his last. Places of persecution exist all around us. Send Your Holy Spirit upon those in difficult straits; give them the wisdom and guidance they need to confess You. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries