Prior to last week’s football game between West Virginia’s Clay County and Braxton County, the teams took a knee together and bowed their heads in prayer. Pregame prayers are not an unusual occurrence in that part of the country, but this time was different. The group prayer came on the heels of a recent ban on prayers over the loudspeaker at games. The new rule was made in response to a single individual who complained about the public display of faith.
“We had a request last year toward the end of football season to check into whether [prayer] was taking place and if so was it allowed?” Clay County Superintendent Joe Paxton told WSAZ.
Citing a Supreme Couty ruling that bans school-sponsored prayer in public schools, Paxton said the district decided to order a moment of silence as an alternative.
“This is a situation that is unfortunately out of our hands. The U.S. Supreme Court is the supreme law of the land,” Paxton said.
In response to the order, both teams rushed out onto the field and knelt together in prayer when the loudspeaker announced the moment of silence at the game on September 1. Some individuals in the stands also joined in the effort.
“As a school and a school system, we are going to abide by the law,” Clay County High School Principal Crystal Gibson told the local TV station. “If anyone wishes to pray, I, by all means, wish that they would. That’s their right to do so,” she said. Not only that, Gibson also added, “I’ll being doing so at the same time.”
“Most of the community, I do believe, supports prayer,” she explained.
Several fans wore shirts that said, “I’m gonna pray anyway.”
Dani Ramsey, whose son played for Braxton County before succumbing to cancer in 2009 at age 16, told PJ Media that “these teams are local rivals in a big way.” Even so, “they chose to stand together for the right to pray.”
She agreed with Gibson that the communities support prayer. “A number of folks in both communities would never back down on these issues,” said Ramsey, who runs a local community center in Rosedale, West Virginia.
Christians “in both counties take coaching opportunities for the purpose of being a testimony and pouring into the kids,” she said. “Personally, I believe that concept has planted seeds in the kids’ hearts for years.”
That might explain why these students and fans refused to back down to one bully who tried to silence them.
The video is not available for embedding, but you can watch it here.
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