On our front page today you undoubtedly saw a story about a complaint that a “concerned parent” has filed with the Mineral County Board of Education.

By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
On our front page today you undoubtedly saw a story about a complaint that a “concerned parent” has filed with the Mineral County Board of Education.
It seems that the “concerned parent” complained after he or she found out that the Frankfort football team and coaches joined together with the Hampshire team and coaches in midfield following their game Oct. 25 at Falcon Stadium. Their purpose: To say a prayer together.
Now I have been following local high school football long enough to know that it is a very rare occurrence for rival teams to join together for anything. When they do, it is usually attached to some tragedy or mishap, like the generous gestures made by Keyser and Moorefield a couple weeks ago when Petersburg lost their field house and everything in it.
I saw a photo of the joint prayer on Facebook, and it gave me a genuinely warm, good feeling about the caliber of the young people and coaches representing our schools.
Apparently not everyone’s heart was warmed, however, and that’s ok. I have my opinions and my faith and thanks to the First Amendment, I am free to exercise that faith.
Also thanks to the First Amendment, everyrone else in this country can exercise the right to their own religion … or the lack thereof.
I would defend the “concerned parent’s” right to their personal beliefs to the end … but I will be just as quick to remind them that “Freedom of Religion” does not in any way mean someone can force me to abandon my beliefs.
It is Freedom OF religion, NOT freedom FROM religion.
How interesting that the organization that wrote the letter to the board of education in representation of the “concerned parent” is called the Freedom FROM Religion Foundation.
I’m sorry, but that’s just not what the First Amendment says.
I don’t know the Hampshire coach at all, but I am told by my sports contacts that it is not uncommon for the team to pray together following a game.
I have spoken to Frankfort’s Coach Whiteman on several occasions, however, and I have found him to be very professional and certainly well respected among his players and peers.
And I would never, ever even begin to suspect that he in any way “forced” any of his players to participate in that prayer session if they hadn’t wanted to.
You see, that is what Freedom OF Religion is. In simple terms, no laws can be made to force anyone to subscribe to any certain religion, and no person can force their religion upon another.
And that includes those who don’t have any religion at all.
I am not making assumptions about the “concerned parent.” He or she may indeed be religious too. But their so-called defense of Freedom OF Religion is terribly misguided.
They have a right to their beliefs, but they have NO RIGHT to try to interfere with anyone else’s beliefs.
Separation of Church and State has been misinterpreted for far too long. It is time to follow the true intention of our First Amendment and quit using it as an excuse to take someone else’s rights away.
I commend Coach Whiteman and his staff and players, and Hampshire’s coaches and players as well.
I also understand it is not uncommon for Keyser to have a pre-game prayer and I commend them.
This is America. They have the right.
Before we start taking everyone else’s rights away because it might offend someone, how about let’s stand up for everyone’s right to practice what they believe in!