Pre-game Prayer Creates Violence
My name is Bill Jager and this is a
During the time that I was growing up in the village of Larsen Bay, Alaska the population hovered around 100 people that covered about a 10-mile radius. At that time there was no organized religion present to impose its views upon village life. Everyone in the village knew everyone else. The people in the village cooperated for survival and cared for each other. Morality derived out of reason and necessity -- not religion. Everyone in the village got along fine, even without the guidance of organized religion. The village at that time did not even have a police officer and none was needed. The population in the village today remains about the same as it did when I was growing up there. Today it is necessary to have a Police Officer in the village of Larsen Bay, Alaska. The police go under the title of: Village Public Safety Officers (VPSO).
There was the Russian Orthodox religion, but Priests only made a short visit approximately every six months to a year, that is if the weather and the Priest's timetable permitted. Whenever a Russian Orthodox Priest would visit, he would give all of his sermons in either Russian, or Slavonic. Very few, if any, of the villagers understood Russian or the Slavonic language. A few years before I left the village the Baptists moved in to save our heathen souls. The Baptist presence in the village lasted for about 10 years after I left. There is a Russian Orthodox religious presence in the village today. The Russian Orthodox religion moved into the village, built a Church and this time give their sermons in English or at least through an interpreter.
I had a childhood that was without the pressures and influence of organized religion. When I left the village and went out into the world, my curiosity was aroused to the different supernatural god-beliefs of the world. I found that some people believed so strongly that they had the "only" one true-religion that they would fight and die for that belief. Supernatural god-beliefs are just that - beliefs, a figment of imagination and a superstition. People that are indoctrinated from birth into supernatural god-beliefs know that they are right and that the others have it all wrong.
Public School Pre-game Prayer
Halt prayer before games judge orders
This was on the front page of the Atlanta Constitution on September 25, 1986. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order banning prayers before football games at the Douglas County High School in Douglasville, GA. Doug Jager just returned to Douglasville, GA from his first trip to Larsen Bay, Alaska where he spent the summer. Emotions were intense and out of control for Christians who suddenly found that they lost one of their means of imposing their prayers onto the public. After the Atlanta Constitution's front-page story to halt prayers at public school football games, Georgia went crazy. The Jager household was besieged with some of the nastiest phone calls and open public abuse coming from Christians in the name of God. The abuse coming from Christians was very intense, and meant to terrorize and to intimidate. The telephone calls were not only in an abusive manner -- it was also the number of calls that were received. The phone would not stop ringing, as soon as the phone was put back in the cradle another person would call to curse you out in the name of God. We started screening telephone calls and the abusive calls lessened somewhat. The telephone calls became unmanageable again was whenever the media covered the court case on prayer before football games. Another time that the calls became bad was on Sunday's and Wednesday's after church was out. The callers that called to terrorize the household were bold and didn't mind leaving their messages of hate on an answering machine. I now have about 10 answering machine tapes loaded with several hours of vile, terrorist type calls from Christians. I don't know what those preachers were telling those folks that upset them so. The Jager household was not the only place that was bombarded with a lot of phone calls:
One young associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Douglasville, GA., said "that his telephone has been ringing constantly with callers upset by the case -- like the lady who said 'I believe in prayer, but I think somebody ought to beat him up.'"[Referring to Doug]. Atlanta Constitution September 25, 1986.
Why were these people so open and brave in their terroristic tactics? No one in the local government would bother them. They were bold too, because they had the backing of the local politicians. Some local Christians were so bold that the tires were slashed as our cars were parked in our own carport. A police report was made, but naturally no one was ever caught. Local politicians use the people's ignorance of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for a means to get elected:
"This country was founded on freedom of religion, not separation from religion. I'm tired of people trying to take my rights and my children's rights to pray away. It seems the trend of this country of this country is to push people in the closet to pray. . . Those of us who are Christians, let's band together and keep the invocation at our ball games. Let's give God a reason to bless America again". Rita Rainwater, Douglasville, GA in a letter to the editor, The Douglas County Sentinel September 26, 1986.
Rita Rainwater is today one of the local politicians of Douglas County, Georgia. A politician who likes to be seen on the County Court House steps in prayer with the rest of the local politicians. If there was any news coverage where local politicians condemned the terrorist tactics used on my family by the Christians, I have not seen it. Why don't politicians discourage terrorist tactics used by the religious right?
Most of the reference to news editorials or articles used on this web page will be from: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or Douglas County Sentinel. The Douglas County Sentinel is a small ultra conservative newspaper in Douglasville, GA.
What brought on the faith based terror of the Religious Right?
Doug Jager stood alone -- faced overwhelming odds and won a battle against established religious ceremonies at public athletic events. The results of this ruling eliminated pre-game prayers at public schools in Georgia, Alabama and Florida.
When Doug entered Douglas County High School as a freshman he was a member of the Marching Band and played an alto saxophone. At first high school football game of the season, Doug was introduced to his first public prayer. A Protestant Minister from the Douglas County, Georgia Ministerial Association gave a pre-game prayer and asked everyone to bow their heads. Doug was in shock, he did not take his hat off, and he did not bow his head. Religion was not part of Doug's life. Doug's childhood was free of any religious pressures or religious indoctrination. Doug sensed that there was something wrong with being asked to participate in prayer in public. Never the less, Doug was willing to just observe the ritual. It became obvious that Doug was not participating in the pre-game prayer. Standing with his head up and band hat on, it didn't take very long for his peers to notice. His peers began pressuring and harassing him to participate in the religious ritual. Not to participate in the prayer was showing disrespect. Doug put up with this until his second year, then wrote a letter to the Principal. The Principal did not answer the letter. Faced with a complaint on the school's religious practice. The Principal chose to ignore the problem hoping that it would go away. A couple weeks went by and Douglas wrote a second letter. Only then did I become aware of the problem. The Principal did not answer this letter either, but asked the Band Director to talk to Doug. The Band Director proceeded to give Doug a lecture on Christianity, suggesting he speak with local ministers.
In the 1985/86 school year, Doug asked for my guidance on this problem. I suggested he contact the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). In the spring of 1986 the ACLU, Doug and I set up negotiations with the Douglas County High-School Administration. Upon meeting with the school administrators, we found three local ministers from the Douglas County Ministerial Association there to negotiate with us. We had not invited the ministers, so it appeared as if the ministers were an UN-elected arm of Douglas County, GA government. It was the ministers who negotiated for the school system and drafted the so-called "equal access plan." A plan that any student, club member, teacher or parent could put their name into a hat and if selected, they would give a pre-game prayer. Under the equal access plan ministers were not to participate or give invocations. Finding that we would not agree to their plan, the school decided to use the equal access plan anyway.
It was only at the beginning of Doug's third year of high school, the fall of 1986 (86/87-school year); the football pre-game prayer lawsuit became public.
This court case has been an education for me. Even before the court case, I was researching the Bible and found many things about it troubling. In my battle with Christians I intensified that research and found the Bible wanting. I have learned a lot about the reality of Christians and educated by their methods used for control. In my dealings with some Christians during this court battle, I found some Christians lacking ethical principles. I found some Christians also lacking compassion and respect for those who don't hold their religious beliefs. When asked to uphold the principles of the United States Constitution, some Christians feel threatened. They become deceptive, hateful and down right hostile. There is a dark and sinister side to religion. Our founding fathers were aware of this when they wrote the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights.
The First Amendment in the United States Constitution gives the citizens freedom that is rich in religious diversity, and also allows for no religious beliefs. By separating religion and government it gives the people the right not to support anyone else's brands religion with government tax dollars. When government lends its power and prestige to any one type of religion, the rest of the citizens with differing religions, or no religion become second class citizens.
After meeting others who made a similar stand on State/Church separation, I find that harassment in the name of God is not unique to this family. Religion controls through fear, intimidation by ridicule and belittlement. Religion also exercises control by intellectual terrorism that will frighten the ignorant into submission to gain power. There is an excellent book written how people are treated when ever they challenge prayer in public schools it is: With out a Prayer: Religious Expression in Public Schools, by Robert S. Alley. And of course, the "Jager" family is included in this book. This book can be purchased from Prometheus Books. Robert S. Alley is a professor emeritus of humanities at the University of Richmond, Virginia. Robert S. Alley is also the author of The Supreme Court on Church and State, School Prayer and the editor of James Madison on Religious Liberty.
An excerpt from cover of Without a Prayer: Religious Expression in Public Schools:
Statements made by prominent figures in the news media, like the one made by Lewis Grizzard (The Atlanta Constitution, Sept 18, 89). He said, "I am convinced there are people who don't have a mother. They include people who would burn the flag, pitch a fit about prayers at a foot ball game... These people came into the world from under a rock." And like the statement made by the Albany State College Athletics Director, Wilburn Campbell. (The Atlanta Constitution, Sept 23, 89). He said, "It's an unfortunate situation when you've got a group of people telling you that you can't pray. It's fairly akin to burning the flag." Statements like this add fuel to the fires of hatred, encourages intimidation by ridicule and belittlement. Patriotism is also question if you don't go along with Christian prayers or beliefs.
As I have stated in my Personal Information section of this web page. I am Honorably retired from the U.S. Army with 20 years of service. I've been a firefighter for 40 years and have many accomplishments that I can be proud of. I can tell war stories with the best of them. Yet, the greatest accomplishment of my life was to stand with my son, Kevin "Douglas" Jager in his battle for the separation of State and Church. One of the proudest moments of my life was in accepting the "Freethinker of the year" award for Doug during the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. convention, October 1989 in Atlanta. Doug was still in Alaska during the time the FFRF convention was held in Atlanta. The Jager family also received "The Freethinkers of the Year" award from Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., at the same time. Doug and I, also received the "Bill of Rights" award from theACLU.The awards were the result of Case, No. 88-1610 DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT and DOUGLAS COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION (Petitioners) vs. DOUG JAGER and WILLIAM JAGER (Respondents). In The Supreme Court of the United States, October Term, 1988. In which, they let a lower court ruling stand. For research see also; Jager v. Douglas County School District, 862 F.2d 824 (11th Cir.), Cert. den. 490 U.S. 1090 (1989). Pre-game invocations at high school football games are unconstitutional.
On June 19, 2000 the United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 on SANTA FE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST. v. DOE (99-62) that student-led, student-initiated public prayer before football games violates the separation of church and state, and is not private speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The result of the Santa Fe ISD v. Doe eliminated Public School sanctioned pre-game prayers in all States. A copy of the Santa Fe ISD v. Doe ruling can be seen at: SANTA FE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST. v. DOE (99-62)
Fundamentalist Conservative Christian and Public Schools
Public school sponsored prayer and pre-game prayer in public schools is unconstitutional. The Fundamentalist Conservative Christian in several states continue to demand that public schools display the Ten Commandments, In God We Trust and teach Creationism. The demand by the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian on public schools -- is to teach the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian's religious point of view.
The Problem with the religion public school controversy is the dishonesty by Fundamentalist Conservative Christians. Religion and Christianity is not the problem. There are many Christian who understand the necessity for keeping government and religion separate. Prayer is not even the problem. A student can still pray in a public school, silently or even in a group as long as no one is coerced to participate. The problem is only with a selective group wanting the government to sponsor their brand of Christianity. Fundamentalist Conservative Christians can not even be honest (which should say a lot about their brand of Christianity) in claiming that prayer is banned in public schools. It's not about prayer in public schools -- it's using the government to sponsor their prayer and it is about being seen and heard praying in a government setting.
The quandary that the " Fundamentalist Conservative Christians" find themselves in is with the mass amount of information available to children in this information age. Fundamentalist Conservative Christians are driven by fear of this knowledge that is available in public schools. As children of the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian are exposed to more and more knowledge that is beyond the scope of the fundamentalist view of the universe, their children are abandoning religion. Using an allegory by rephrasing a title of an old song, "How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" to say, "once they visit the city, it’s darned near impossible to keep them down on the farm," shows the predicament the Fundamentalist Christians find themselves in. The children who leave the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian beliefs behind are considered by their parents to be damned to the ways of Satan and eternal Hell.
The reaction of the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian is to force public schools to teach only that which conforms to their dogma. The battle to teach Creationism instead of evolution, public school sponsored prayer, a moment of silence, posting of the Ten Commandments, placing "In God We Trust" in public schools and re-writing of the history of the United States are all in line with the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian thinking.
The war waged by the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian is to keep students ignorant and unaware of knowledge other than the fundamentalist church teachings and make a "safer" in public school for their children. In this way the Fundamentalist Conservative Christian children will not deviate and will not question the dogma.
For more information about religion in public schools, check this page:
My Conclusion on Religion
Religion in general including Christianity is irrational.
It is all about freedom. Freedom to pursue the truth demonstrated by the facts. Religion offers no facts -- only belief.
I have no fear of the Christian God, or any gods. The Christian God is just one of thousands of gods people created over the ages. The Christian god is just a god named God.
Christianity is also about power and mind control. Christianity instills fear and discourages the questioning of their particular brand of religion.
What is the cause behind religion that would make its followers knowingly drink poisoned laced cook aid (Jim Jones - Jonestown, Guyana), or committing mass suicide to catch a ride on an alien spaceship that is hiding behind the Hale-Bopp comet (Marshall Applewhite's Heaven's Gate). People believe and do some very weird things when it comes to religion.
Fundamental Christians believe that being armed with the word of God filters out information that does not go along with their religious beliefs. The word of God, in fact, acts very much like a mind virus that creates a dysfunction in a person's ability to reason. It is those that are contaminated with the word of God that can not distinguish fantasy from reality, blow up abortion clinics, use airplanes to crash into buildings that kill thousands of innocent people and condemn everyone that do not believe as they do. Better yet, Donna Gore (Atlanta Freethought Society member) described religion as a mental illness. Donna Gore proposed that religion should be placed in a category of mental illness for the following reasons:
I agree with Donna Gore, this is a very fitting description of religion, indeed.
A link to a critique of this web site was done by Doug Hardt at: Church, State & Atheism
And a link to my response of Doug Hardt's critique is at: Response to: Church, State & Atheism
The U.S. Supreme Court does not make law, they are guardians of the U.S. Constitution. The Founding Fathers wrote into the Bill of Rights, a concept separating religion and government, to which, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld in its rulings. What many Christians demand, is to make a law establishing Christianity in government. One of the guarantees made to the people in the 1st Amendment is that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; . . ." It wasn't until the practice of government sponsored religion was challenged, did the U. S. Supreme Court finally correct that long standing illegal practice.
Today the United States is more diverse than ever. Ten years ago the average non-believer was about 8% and today the average is at 14%. What will the average percentage of non-believers in the United States be in another ten years? As people no longer fear the Christian threat of job loss and ostracism, more will challenge the illegal practice of government-sponsored religion. Every time that Christians use threat as a means for control, it makes Christianity a less desirable religion to follow. And, every time the court rules in favor of religion/government separation, it makes the concept of separation stronger.
Christianity (especially the Conservative Fundamental extremist) today is battling with an enormous amount of knowledge that is available to the public -- peculiarly information that comes out of scientific inquiry. Christian leaders are fearful of scientific findings and realize that they must keep their followers ignorant of scientific knowledge in order to stay in business. But, for how long can Christian leaders hold back the floodgate of scientific knowledge? When the followers of Christianity start applying critical thinking to their intellectual process, more and more will begin to see that Christianity is no different than the other Pagan and world religions that Christianity condemns. When examined critically, the Bible God has no more meaning than any of the dead gods of Baal, Astarte, Molech, Re, Jupiter, Zeus, Mars, or Mithra. The Bible God continues to become more and more hollow and meaningless as more scientific discoveries are made. After all, Churches are not known to be bastions for reason, or critical thinking.
Christianity (especially the Conservative Fundamental extremist) tries to control the public through ignorant Christian politicians, but that too creates a conflict and hostility that is unbecoming to decent people. Christianity lacks integrity and takes on an ugly nature whenever it imposes its will onto the public. To use government to impose religion on a captive audience is tyranny. Some Christians tell me that morality is based on the belief in God. My family had its share of Christian type morality -- see my harassment page. Morality that is based upon reason is by far superior to any Christian or Biblical morality. I am decent moral person because I want to be, not because of any threat of everlasting punishment, or promises of rewards. Honest, decent human beings do not need supernatural god-beliefs in order to be a good person. This is why I often say: "All Christians are bad people. There are many good honest people that are Christians. These people would be good, decent and honest people no matter what they believed." If fear is the only thing that makes Christians a decent person -- then by all means, believe as you will. The problem is that there are too many Christians that just are not decent people, so the fear factor isn't reliable either.
I find Christianity nothing more than another supernatural superstition.
"How dare you call Christianity a superstition," a recent guest book signer stated. I dare to call Christianity a superstition, because that is what it is according to: Merriam-Webster Online - Dictionary. 1. a: a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, trust in magic or chance, or a false conception of causation b: an irrational abject attitude of mind toward the supernatural, nature, or God resulting from superstition. 2. : a notion maintained despite evidence to the contrary. And what does the Merriam-Webster Online - Dictionary say about the supernatural? 1. : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil. 2. a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit). I repeat, Christianity is nothing more than another superstition.
Many ancient myths and religions that Christianity condemns influenced the creation of the Christian Religion. Bible stories (myths) like Jonah living three days and three nights in the belly of a fish, or walking on water, virgin births and the rising from the dead after three days AND three nights are incredible. These stories can not believed, without solid proof. Jesus prophesied he would be in the ground THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS. All I could ever find was a day and a half, I never did find the three nights, neither can any Christian. There are some Christians that take exception to this comment, pointing out the
From: The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy by Dennis McKinsey p. 38 and 39.
Dead people only rise from the dead for ignorant primitive cultures that lack the ability to test and analyze such an occurrence scientifically. Only gullible people in advanced civilizations believe that someone can rise from the dead after a day and a half.
The Christian religion is a myth, a fable -- where animals and snakes talk. The Christian religion is a living lie that is passed on from generation to generation. However, if solid evidence is presented that any of these claims are actually true -- that the claims can be tested and analyzed, I would be willing to listen -- so would many other non-believers. Another problem is with Bible based morality. If it is true that Christian morality comes from God and is an absolute, why is it that God's morality evolved from a bloodthirsty Warlord in the Old Testament to a more peace loving God of today. Of course that peace loving is questionable also. According to Christians people are condemned to everlasting pain and torture in "Hell" for simply not believing in Him/Her/It. I find that most Christians are more moral than the God that they worship. An excellent article written by Farrell Till describes just how disgusting and repulsive God's morality really is at: Was the Amalekite Massacre a Moral Atrocity?
The claim that God exists, because it cannot be proven that he does not exist, simply shows the false thinking. If it is true that God exists, because it cannot proven that he does not exist. Then the "Invisible Pink Unicorn"--exists, because it cannot be proven that she does not exist. Her Eminence (The Invisible Pink Unicorn) even has a web page, check it out. In other words; an extraordinary claim, by its very nature, requires extraordinary proof.
Most people are simply educated and conditioned from childhood into their particular set of religious beliefs.
Without any solid evidence to support their beliefs, most Christians know that their particular religion is the correct religion and everyone else is wrong.
Since most religions (including Christianity) teach love and kindness; why has there been so much religious conflict throughout the ages and in the world today?
The Bible cannot be taken literally and it is a book full of errors and contradiction. If you are convinced that the Bible is God's word and it is without error -- please check these web sites*The Skeptical Review*and *Biblical Errancy*
If some politicians have their way, they would pass legislation that would allow prayer in public schools. How are those students, who stand up for the United States Constitution against unconstitutional prayers in public schools, going to be protected from the faith based terrorist of the religious right? Politicians who advocate prayer in public school and pander to the Christian religious right are in FACT ENEMIES OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. The ENEMIES OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM web site is presented by The Religious Freedom Coalition of the Southeast.
I get loads of email from Christians that visit my web site telling me that they have the answers to some very tough questions and can prove the un-provable. The one thing each of these writers have in common is that "they have the answer." Many of the Christians who want to "show me the light" are of course from the many different brands of Christianity. Christians cannot even agree between each other about the god they worship, or the Bible and how it should be interpreted -- yet, with arrogance and self-piety they want me to believe as they do. I suggest that visitors to this site also visit Thomas Blaylock's web pages and be ready for answers to some very tough questions.
"Atheists are not born Atheists. Neither are Baptists born Baptists. In the place of Baptists, you need to insert your own religion. I just like to use the term Baptist and give them the credit, because they were the ones who nurtured me into Atheism."
"First, it is important to notice that large portions of present day Atheists were first members of religion and many were ministers, rabbis or priests. Isn't that something to think about? It is true there are some Atheists who never were religious, or connected with a religion. But you do not become an Atheist unless you are concerned for truth, justice and honesty, along with the well-being and morality of yourself (and all of mankind)."
Religion warps a person's ability to reason.
The concept of God is merely make believe.
Quote from: Internet Infidels Quotation of the Minute.
"Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear. It is partly the terror of the unknown, and partly the wish to feel that you have a kind of elder brother who will stand by you in all your troubles and disputes. Fear is the basis of the whole thing - fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand-in-hand" [Bertrand Russell, 6/3/27]
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States - before it was perverted in 1954. Image from An Introduction to Freethought - The Religion of Freethought Bank of Wisdom - Rare Books on CD
Today the United States stands divided between the Judeo/Christian and other world religions. The original Pledge of Allegiance written by Francis Bellamy in August 1892, did not mention God. The original pledge: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and [*] the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. " [* 'to' added in October, 1892.] Another change in 1924 inserted "to the Flag of the United States of America," It wasn’t until June 14, 1954 God was inserted into "Pledge of Allegiance." For more history on the Pledge of Allegiance see: Pledge History It was religious fear and intimidation during the McCarthy era that created the change in the "Pledge of Allegiance" and currency motto. Let's do what is right -- restore the "Pledge."