Taking a stand

Oneida High School is the latest victim of a lawsuit threat from a bullying anti-Christian organization. So, this season, the school stopped its pre game invocation at football games. Administrators correctly reasoned that to continue pre game prayers would be to fight a battle the school could not win. The school district is strapped for cash and cannot afford a legal battle — a legal battle it would almost certainly lose — which is why organizations such as the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation target small schools in the first place.

LambertBut in a small town in the heart of the Bible belt, where 90 percent of the folks in the bleachers on Friday nights will trade their team pride t-shirts for “go-to-meeting” clothes and fill the pews of the town’s churches on Sunday, that hasn’t set well. Head coach Tony Lambert, an unabashed Christian who uses his post game radio interview every week to “thank the Lord for saving my soul,” said after the first home game this season that the change made his stomach turn. “I see things happening in the world today . . . I see things happening right here in our own community, the way we conduct our business on Friday nights,” Lambert said. “I hope I’m always willing to take a stand.”

At Friday’s second home game of the season, against Watertown, public address announcer Kevin Acres delivered the following speech just before the game began, generating a roar of approval from fans on both sides, those wearing orange and those wearing purple alike:

At this time, I have a special announcement to make. First, I want to say that the following comments are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oneida High School.

I have been asked many times over the past few weeks why we no longer have an opening prayer, like we have done at every football game that I am aware of since we started playing football at Oneida in 1930. The school systems, both at the state and local level have come under great pressure by certain organizations to remove vocalized sanctioned prayer from school events and activities or face costly legal action.

These groups, which incidentally in this area are in the minority, have been pushing this issue for the past several years but the pressure to conform to these groups or face financial recourse has now moved to the forefront. In an effort to protect the resources of our high school institution from any legal actions that these groups may take, we will from this point forward observe a moment of silence prior to the start of sporting events.

What you do during that time is completely up to you. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech.”

Therefore, during the moment of silence, if you want to say a prayer, or choose not to say a prayer, that is your constitutional right as an American. In other words, it is no one’s place to tell you that you have to say a prayer, just as it is no one’s right to say you can’t say one.

On a more personal note, I would like to conclude by saying, “As for me and my house, we will worship the Lord.

On the field, cheerleading squads from both schools joined hands and recited the Lord’s Prayer during the moment of silence. It is an effort organized by junior cheerleader Kayla King. The reigning Miss Scott County Fairest of the Fair, King refused to accept the idea that prayers were being cut out before games and has actively lobbied school administrators for ways to bring student-led prayers back to the games.

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As silence descended across Dr. M.E. Thompson Field, the sounds of the cheerleaders reciting the prayer could easily be heard . . . and, in the stands, fans joining them. First one, then a few, spreading throughout the bleachers by the prayer’s end.

In the end, things haven’t changed. Used to be, everyone heard a prayer — usually led by a student; sometimes led by a local minister — before the start of the game, delivered over the P.A. On Friday night, everyone heard a prayer, led by a group of students from each school. The bullying efforts were rendered moot and pointless.

And that’s taking a stand.

Acres king


24 Reviews

    These organizations say “You can’t pray because it offends us. You can not impose your beliefs on us this way. Its wrong!”
    I want to know, why is it, that ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ are) can impose their beliefs on US??!! WHY HAVE WE AS A NATION ALLOWED THIS TO HAPPEN? God Bless US. We’re gonna need it.

    As a Scott County resident with a student in our Oneida school district. I say Amen!

    Thank The Lord for these people !!!! Literally made me cry with happiness and pride for my small town !! About time we took a stand as Christians !!

    Not surprised to see my cousin Tony stand for JESUS and see so many scott countians we can not be quitened when it comes to our LORD and our salvation

    You found a way to not let te liberal bullies win. Very proud of my Alma mater.

    Praise God for Christians who are willing to take a stand. And I want to say to these organizations, ” Why should you be allowed to offend me? If you don’t believe in our God who spoke the world into existence, then don’t. And don’t pray. That is one of your rights as an American. But don’t try to force your disbelief on me. That is my right. And in my right to prayer, I pray for the salvation of the lost and that includes you.”

    As an OHS alumni who now has children in the system, I say please learn to be silent. People of other faiths don’t mind that you pray, what bothers us is when you obnoxiously do it and claim oppression if someone says something. Nobody has ever tried to take away the right for someone to pray at school or even at a school function. What is not allowed is a teacher to promote ANY religious view, as well as for students to pray outside of class time.

    When we as Christians are forced to be silent by law it isn’t solely a matter of respecting others, it is also permitting others to take away our freedom of religious expression. Next are we are going to have to stop singing the Star Spangled Banner because there are those at the game that are not from America?

    Thank you, Ben. I’m proud of every person that stepped up last night and joined in with our prayer and especially Kevin Acres for his comments on the situation. I’m thankful for & proud of our community, we as Christians have the right to be able to express our beliefs & I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to do so, not just on Friday nights before a football game, but every single day. During that moment of silence it is your choice what you do during that time, whether that be pray or bow your head in silence. As for me, I’ll glorify & praise his holy name.

    “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
    Matthew 5:16

    God Bless!

      Thank you. To the boys and girls of each school that prayed. Thanks to the family, the parents that raise them with highest standards. Thanks to Kayla king and Kevin Acres. SO Proud to be living in this community.

    I truly hope that we see more people take a stand such as Coach Lambert, Kevin Acres and Kayla King.

    As a christian I am amazed how a small minority and one not even from our county can influence the way we live and pray. As a parent and grandparent it makes my heart so glad to see our young people take a stand for the Lord, and I know it makes him smile as well. Thank you grown ups for setting the example by declaring your faith as well. I am proud of our little county and the people in it and it gives hope for the future.

    Jesus stood up for us on the cross and it’s time we all stand up for him, I believe God will richly bless those who do, I am proud of all those who did this at Oneida High

    Proud of ALL of You at Oneida High School, for taking a stand for our religious freedom, but most of all, for taking a public stand for Our Lord Jesus Christ!

    Evangelist Barry Leonard

    What’s this world coming to cant pray at sporting events. But can use gods name in vain and any other vulgar language you want this is the great usa freedom of speech get over it you atheist creep

    we will always take a stand with those who are doing the right thing and if those who dont like it can get over it GOD WILL AND ALWAYS COME FRIST NO MATTER WHAT MEN SAY AND NO ONE CAN EVER TAKE THAT FROM US JESUS DIE FOR ME AND I WILL STAND FOR HIM AND IF THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO NOT PRAY AT A FOOTBALL GAME ARE ANYWHERE ELSE THATS YOUR CHOICE IF YOU DONT WANT TO HERE ME PRAY THEN DONT LISTEN BECAUSE I WONT STOP YOU CAN SUED ME IF YOU WANT MY GOD IS MUST BIGGER THEN YOUR GOD

    You guys should contact the ACLJ they will fight for you for free to procect out religious rights. They win cases like this all the time and it doesn’t cost these small organizations a fortune and put them out of “business”. Check them out!

    We are so proud of coach Lambert , Kayla , Kevin , and the cheerleaders ,students ,and the fans that took a stand for Christ. We may start a religious revolution right here in Oneida. Our forefathers , brothers , sisters , and friends fought and died that we could have freedom , and we shouldn’t let them be taken away. May God bless Oneida High School and May God bless America ! Go big O

    I find it ironic that the person(s) offended NEVER are identified in any of the attacks on prayer at school sporting events.

    What a beautiful resolution to the contentions of a small minority. While we must work with others to respect their beliefs/ religions, the majority rules– as it always has done. Giving heartfelt thanks to one’s God is only right and proper– for all the gifts we have all received from Him.

    Blessings and Hugs,
    Vera Ellen Rich

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