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Every Fall, at the beginning of the school year, there are a couple of different Christian efforts that play out in high schools around the country – and even around the world. Both of these see significant participation each year.
One of the events is called “See You at the Pole” (SYATP). On a set day, Christian students gather around the school’s flag pole before school starts and pray. This movement began with a small group of teenagers in Burleson, Texas who came together for a DiscipleNow weekend in early 1990. It grew from that small beginning into an annual international event.
The other event is called “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” It was officially begun in 2014 with the backing of Focus on the Family. It was started as a response to certain American schools that attempted to prevent students from bringing their Bibles to school.
Beginning in the early 1960s, a concerted effort was begun by various Atheist groups to eliminate Christian practice from the public square. This continues even into current times, with some of these groups using the media and the courts to shame and sue organizations and institutions into submission. The public school system has been a special focus of these groups.
In particular, actual lawsuits have been filed to curtail or eliminate Christian influence. For instance, suits have be brought to prohibit students from bringing a Bible to school; to prohibit prayer in school; to prohibit valedictorians from mentioning God in their valedictory speeches; to prohibit coaches from praying with student athletes; to prohibit Christian after school groups from meeting on school campuses; and the list goes on.
Regular and social media has also been used in this effort. Just recently, New Orleans Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, partnered with Focus on the Family to promote “Bring Your Bible to School Day.” He was blasted all over social media for cooperating with an organization that is against gay marriage.
What has been established by the courts through all of this is that no school employee is permitted to do anything “religious” during school hours, but that the free speech and freedom of religion of the students themselves cannot be abridged. Thus students can bring their Bibles to school, and can pray before school – as long as it is the students themselves who are leading it. The various Atheist groups that have brought these lawsuits would like to eliminate Christian expression entirely, but they are, overall, satisfied that they have been able to eliminate any official expression of Christian faith in the public schools.
Here is the problem with that, though. While they have succeeded in pushing out traditional religious expression, they have actually reserved the public square for a different religious form. The fact is, Atheism is, itself, a religious belief. It is founded upon naturalistic beliefs that are completely based on faith. So while they have managed to push aside Christian expression, they have filled the space with Atheistic belief – basically substituting one faith for another.
To be sure, virtually every Atheist will chafe at this characterization. They typically don’t see their beliefs to be religious at all. In fact, one of the most common retorts I get when I make this observation to an Atheist is that “Atheism is a ‘lack’ of religion” – which it definitely is not.
Based on the principles of America’s founding, Christian beliefs and values have just as much right to be expressed in the public square as atheistic beliefs and values. However, that will not continue to be the case if American Christians do not make the effort to understand the religious nature and worldview beliefs of these Atheists who want to relegate Christians to the sidelines of society. If you do have a desire to get more up to speed on this topic, check out the MarketFaith Ministries via Freddy Davis and see all of the fantastic resources posted there about this very important topic.
Freddy Davis is the president of MarketFaith Ministries. He is the author of numerous books and has a background as an international missionary, pastor, radio host, worldview trainer, and entrepreneur. Freddy is a graduate of Florida State University with a BS in Communication, and holds MDiv and DMin degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a popular speaker, particularly on the topic of worldview and its practical implications for the Christian life. He lives in Tallahassee, FL, with his wife Deborah.
You may also contact Freddy at Leadership Speakers Bureau to schedule him for speaking or leadership engagements.
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