It’s so hotly contested, but prayer may never be used to exclude people, it may only include people.
When you are in a group that prays in a certain way… a community of faith then prayer is a signature of that group.
But when the group is a public group, particularly a state run group such as a school, official prayer doesn’t belong.That’s the law of this country and I believe, as a minister, a good one. People pray differently or not at all. This is not a Christian nation. This is not who we were founded to be. If you’re proud to be American, be proud of what the country was founded to be.
But there are other reasons that I think prayer isn’t sportspersonlike. Nothing to stop someone from a quick prayer before sinking a penalty shot, although, as a theologian I would argue you would have done better to practice and the Divine shouldn’t be responsible for compensating for your lackadaisical approach to discipline.
But if the bonding is happening only with a few, even with most, and you’re leaving people out of the circle, then they are outside the circle not just at the beginning but also for the game. If they’re pretending, to fit in, then you’re still excluding them and reinforcing the fact that they are not really part of the group. This isn’t going to lead to good results for individuals or for the team.
This is all in reference to an article that talks about a school system that has been notified it must quit “official” prayer and come into accordance with the law. It says it’s a successful team. Does that mean it wouldn’t be successful if they don’t pray? Is there a reason they’ve got a coach? Because it is her/his job to teach a team the skills and reinforce the discipline to play the game well together.
A winning team will have a variety of players to enhance the program. A team that is inclusive, rather than exclusive, can have extraordinary results if you make space for new approaches.
People bring their religious selves with them wherever they are. What’s important is that they live what they believe rather than just talk about it.
I know, I’m an old Peacemaker. I believe that it’s the role of prayer to bring people together… and demanding that the Divine lead your team to victory over another… doesn’t fit that bill.
Prayer is not the only way to help people bond. Be your best self, find other ways to bond with people who are different from you.
Give Peace a chance. And follow the rules of the country.