Skip to comments.Prayer Warriors Fight Church-State Division
Posted on 11/18/2001 4:35:27 PM PST by victim soul
ARVEY, Ill., Nov. 17 Jason Clark, 17, a junior at Thornton Township High School, stood at the chalkboard in Room 202, thumbing through his Bible as about 30 students stood silently, eyes closed and heads bowed.
"Father, we thank you for being the God that you are, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords," Mr. Clark said. "We ask you to forgive us for all of our sins, cleanse our minds, cleanse our hearts, cleanse our spirit. We thank you and we praise you and give you all honor and all glory."
"Amen," the students said. Mr. Clark then began his regular Tuesday after-class sermon. The theme was "Self Check," he told the group, because "basically, it's time to get real in our walk with Christ."
Mr. Clark and most of the teenagers who pray with him in this public school in a suburb south of Chicago call themselves Prayer Warriors for Christ. The metaphor is spiritual, but it fits on a political level, too, for the residents here who see the battlefield as the wall between church and state.
They include Harvey's mayor, Nickolas Graves, and City Council members who recently have called for voluntary prayer in the public schools in this city of 33,000, where community and church leaders have asked Harvey officials to petition the state for the right to pray openly in school.
Mr. Graves and Harvey's aldermen have pressed their case in light of the Sept. 11 attacks, and the subsequent national embrace of public prayer. The Harvey City Council, in fact, unanimously passed a resolution calling for the restoration of prayer in schools two weeks after the attacks, and Harvey political leaders held a town hall meeting two weeks ago to discuss the topic.
Mr. Clark and two of his Prayer Warrior friends, Devlin Scott, 17, and David Anderson, 16, were among scores of people who testified at that meeting, which city officials called a first step in restoring school prayer.
While school-prayer initiatives have been fiercely challenged in other suburbs, the mayor's call has been welcomed in Harvey, known to some as "Little Chicago" because of the urban-style ills that have swelled in recent years with the migration of poor city residents. Gangs, drugs and violent crime have added to the roster of suffering in a city already plagued by poverty.
While politicians here concede that constitutional hurdles and potentially years of legal battles lie ahead, they say the need for prayer has never been clearer.
"It's on everybody's mind and on their hearts," Mr. Graves said at the town meeting. "It's about our children."
Illinois is among the dozen states that allow voluntary moments of silence in schools. But Harvey officials pushing for prayer contend that the law, which permits a moment of silence in class at a teacher's discretion, does not go far enough.
"What we want is actual prayer," said Alderman Ronald J. Waters. "I happened to have been around on Sept. 11. The next day at some of those schools, there was open prayer all through the schools. Even the president is asking for prayer. But the very institutions that we need to have prayer the most, it has been outlawed. So why not where it is needed the most and where it can have a lasting effect?"
Mr. Anderson, one of the Prayer Warriors, agreed.
"We have a lot of young people in school that are troubled and hurting," he said in an interview after the meeting. "And the first thing they want to turn to is the gangs, they turn to the drugs. But they are not turning to prayer. Why can't we pray in the school and let peers know that you have somebody to turn to?"
The Harvey meeting on Oct. 30 took on the air of a church service, and it was clear that the speakers were preaching to the converted. Among those in attendance were pastors and ministers, as well as business and civic leaders and residents from across the Chicago area.
The meeting fell on the day after the United States Supreme Court refused to hear a Virginia case that challenged that state's law, which mandates a daily moment of silence in public schools.
At Thornton, prayer at least a couple of days a week has become the norm for the Prayer Warriors. There is also a teachers' prayer group that meets on Thursdays before school. The student group, which has started a step dance troupe called Everlasting Faith, meets for an hour after classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Members as well as nonmembers attend the prayer and Bible study sessions that sometimes include singing and preaching. Otherwise, the group functions the same as any other school-based group at Thornton, said William O'Neal, the school's principal.
"We follow the same guidelines as the science club, the math club and the English club," said Mr. O'Neal, who has been principal for nine years. "The only stipulation that I put there is, I don't want them coercing anybody to come."
"They take some criticism for it," he said of the Prayer Warriors. "I always let kids know that it's O.K. to be different."
Inside Room 202 this week, Mr. Clark was praying again after his sermon. He paced back and forth.
"Father God, only you know the things that they are going through," Mr. Clark prayed. "I ask Father that as they confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, I ask that you cleanse them."
The teenagers stood, some crying, calling upon God.
Or is it only your viewpoint that counts?
There are those that say works are un-necessary for salvation, and that is not Biblical. Here is one of the references I found:
James Chapter 1: (vs 16-27)
16 -Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.
17 -Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
18 -He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
19 -My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,
20 -for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
21 -Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 -Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23 -Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror
24 -and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25 -But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.
26 -If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
27 -Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Thereore, works do matter, according to the Bible.
Nothing fails like an atheist without a clue.
Two books with the same name?