A school district is under attack by atheists after an anti-Christian group filed a virulent complaint against a Tennessee school system because its staff bowed their heads while a youth pastor prayed for a seriously injured high school football player down on the field.
When the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) caught wind of coaches bowing their heads while an adult got down on his knees to pray for an injured player on the field, it filed a complaint against the district that includes East Ridge High School and Central High School.
Need permission to pray?
Pastor Eric Dill of Bayside Baptist Church insists that his intention was solely to help the injured player – not to make anyone feel uncomfortable, make a religious statement, for recognition or to get 25,000 Facebook views – which were triggered from FFRF’s complaint.
Dill came to the aid of a player who was down on the field for nearly half an hour after receiving a hard blow to the neck that made him unable to move his legs while waiting for an ambulance.
“A neck injury is the scariest part of football,” the youth pastor told WRCB TV, adding that when a player asked him to pray, he merely submitted to God’s will. “It was almost dead silence … about the only thing I could hear on the field was like sniffling, and just players getting emotional.”
He insisted that he cannot ignore his divine calling to ask for God’s healing on behalf of an injured child.
“If I believe in a God who answers prayers, how bad [do] I have to hate the kid who’s injured or the player who asked or the players who are hurting not to pray?” Dill pondered. “I’m going to be respectful and I’m going to be considerate. I’m not going to force my myself or my faith. God doesn’t force Himself on people, but if a student asks me, ‘Eric pray for this’ – especially in something like this – I’m going to pray.”
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Michael F. Haverluck