Critics say official ruling impedes free exercise of religion
May 4, 2013
A Texas high school track team was prevented from advancing to the state finals after the student who landed first place in the boys 4×100-meter relay pointed towards the sky in a gesture of faith, prompting the team’s disqualification.
In a perverted interpretation of a rule governing high school sports, which prohibits any excessive celebration, relay anchor Derrick Hayes’ act of lifting his finger by his ear and pointing to the heavens was deemed to be a gaudy celebratory motion, on par with dancing or spiking a football in the end zone.
Last week’s controversial judgment has members of the community and critics alike asking if the rule is a violation of the First Amendment, which prohibits the making of laws impeding the free exercise of religion.
“I don’t see what the big deal is. When people are thanking God, I mean, he’s the reason we live,” Columbus resident Laporchia Miller told WFAA-TV.
Columbus independent school district superintendent Robert O’Connor told WFAA his hands were tied: “I don’t think that the situation was technically a terrible scenario as far as his action, but the action did violate the context of the rule.”
According to O’Connor, Hayes beat the second place runner by seven yards, making it their fastest race of the year.
Parents have complained to the state, but as the rule stands almost all hand gestures are strictly prohibited.
“It was a reaction,” the boy’s father KC Hayes said. “I mean you’re brought up your whole life that God gives you good things, you’re blessed.”
The student’s hand gesture disqualification is just the latest example illustrating a disturbing trend of religious demonization seemingly occurring nationwide.
In April, Fox News discovered that a U.S. Army training instructor was leading a class presentation that listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of “religious extremism,” casting them alongside such groups as Al Qaeda, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan.
Earlier this month, Breitbart also reported that the Pentagon released a statement confirming they would court martial soldiers for religious proselytization, specifically targeting soldiers promoting the Christian faith. An excerpt from the article follows:
This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.
Having a “strapping, young Muslim Socialist” as president, perhaps we should not be so surprised, after all, it was German sociologist Karl Marx, the Father of Communism, who rejected religion, calling it the “opiate of the masses.”
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