Thursday, April 18, 2013

Letter to Person County BOE

Responding to a threat of lawsuit, stemming to one person's complaint, there will be no public prayer from the lectern at Person High School's 2013 graduation. Below is the correspondence I sent to each of the Board's five members. 

I have received three emails from Board Members and one phone call. They are interpreting the situation as Person County being forced, by law, to comply with a 25 year old mandate that says sectarian prayers are not be offered. 

For my part, I appreciate the situation they are in, and the pressure being thrust upon them. While I was abundantly clear what my "stance" on the issue is, I can appreciate how even Christian people are pulled when they serve in a secular capacity. That is why I am simply led to pray for them and to encourage each one of them to remain strong. 

Like I've said MANY times in many forums, law may stop the ceremony organizer from allowing prayer from the lectern, but only our apathy can keep us from praying. 

This is nothing to become angry about; rather, we should be broken. We, like every citizen have the right to be heard, so do indeed write to leadership on every level. Furthermore, you -- yourself --- you pray. Go to the ceremony. During the "moment of silence," pray.

My correspondence was the following: 

Dear School Board Members, 

Thank you for running the gauntlet of public service. I appreciate your desire to serve and your commitment to Person County, and those engaged in local schools. 

Perhaps I cannot appreciate the difficult position you are in, but I am writing to say I disagree with the decision to not have a prayer at Person High School's 2013 graduation. 

I do appreciate the tension, living in a place with many beliefs, that having a prayer that is exclusive to one particular group creates. I appreciate how difficult your decision must have been. I know this is not a Christian nation, and we certainly are not a Christian county, and the school system has absolutely no Christian agenda. I understand that. It is a humanistic, secular, state-run, governmental machine and has no regard for the things of God, or god, or gods. Honestly, with great empathy, I understand the friction it all causes. 

That being said, humanism is a religion that is openly pursued, and blatantly taught in our Person County public school system, with evolution being its chief preacher. Why is it that we do not disable that religion's influence? Rather, we report theories as facts and test young people's academic prowess based on having to memorize elements of science that have absolutely no measure of truthand inculcate children and youth with information that is contrary to the values of many families. I teach my children to politely ignoremany things taught in the school system, while also committing to memory those same things for the sake of "succeeding" in your academic climate. It would seem the secular humanists who strike fear into the hearts of authorities in many places -- those people who threaten lawsuits and cause many hearts to fail in fear of them -- could learn to politely listen to a 30 second prayer, especially after many of us have taught our children to listen to academic drivel for the 185 days in a school year. 

My question, then, is this: Who is forcing religion on whom?
My suggestion: until we are ready to drive out all the religions and dogmas we all disagree with, we all learn to live in peace with the tensions.

With all humility, I deeply appreciate your time, and I deeply appreciate the difficult position you must all feel has been thrust upon you. With all humility, I kindly disagree with the position you've taken. We cannot run from every threat, and must lead our community to live in peaceful balance with the tensions we all face.

As a leader in the faith community, I will be encouraging everyone in the area to pray during the moment of silence, and beyond. I will be encouraging parents in the stands to pray. I will be encouraging students in the seats to pray. While we understand graduation organizers can stop someone from praying from the lectern, no one can stop a believer from praying in their hearts. 

Thank you for your time, your service and your hearts, which are most likely, like mine, tested by the times in which we live. I encourage you, in your own lives, to be given to much prayer, for, as we live and lead, there is much pressing into us, and little within ourselves capable of enduring the onslaught alone.

May we all seek help from Him who has infinitely more strength than all of us combined. As the Scriptures say, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea" (Psalm 46:1-2 ESV)

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and Jesus the Son,
Tim Bowes
Executive Director
Youth For Christ-Roxboro
Romans 12:1-2

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