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Tenn. high school principal’s stand on prayer gains exposure via Internet

KINGSTON, Tenn. (BP)–Little did Jody McLoud know when he stood up and told those at the season’s opening football game why there would be no student-led prayer that night that his words would travel across the globe via the Internet.

As a result, the Tennessee high school principal has received letters from almost every state in the nation and spoken on several talk radio stations from as far away as California.

In an interview with the state Baptist convention newsjournal Baptist and Reflector, McLoud noted that his statement was not a spur of the moment decision. He had been praying about it for nearly a week, along with others, and had written several drafts.

“I did not know for sure I would make the statement until late that day,” he said, explaining that without prayer it is hard to determine when to speak out on issues or when to remain silent.

Looking back, McLoud, principal at Roane County High School, Kingston, and an adult Sunday school teacher at First Baptist Church, sees how God directed him through the thought process. “I finally decided to do it. I would obey the law, but state where I stand.”

McLoud stepped to the microphone on Sept. 1 and spoke these words:

“It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the national anthem to honor God and country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of federal case law.

“As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternative lifestyle and if someone is offended, that’s OK.

“I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that’s OK.

“I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem.

“I can designate a school day as earth day and involve the students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, mother earth, and call it ecology.

“I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional Christian convictions as simple-minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment.

“However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, federal case law is violated.

“This appears to be at best, inconsistent, and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and everyone except God and his commandments.

“Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules with which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be at best, inconsistent, and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression.

“For this reason, I shall ‘render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s’ and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God, and to ask him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that’s not against the law, yet.”

McLoud said he made that statement not out of a sense of righteousness but out of guilt and shame that he had not taken a stand before.

He said he began to feel convicted about not taking a stand on issues when he heard of a prayer prayed by a minister before the opening session of the Kansas state legislature.

“It was more out of shame and a conviction that I had been silent too long that made me make the statement,” McLoud said.

The school principal also noted he had to speak out because of a deep sense of love for his country. “I love this country and I want it to stay one nation under God. God has blessed this country because of that and that alone. If this country abandons God, how can it continue to be blessed?”

He also noted that he knows God does not need him to speak up for him. “I need me to speak up for God. And this country needs Christians to speak up. God is going to win.”

McLoud said he does not know who first forwarded his statement across the Internet. Someone asked him for a copy after the game. “The next thing I knew I was getting calls from all over the country. It really took off.

“I have gotten feedback from about every state in the nation,” McLoud related, describing the overwhelming majority of it as positive.

He also has received positive reactions to his statement from local school board members who have talked with him.

The publicity and requests from radio talk show hosts to be on their shows have been overwhelming, McLoud admitted, but he said it has given him further opportunities to share his faith.

“I hope they realize I am just a sinner saved by grace, fighting battles here, winning some, losing some.”

The principal shared that prayer has continued at Roane County High School.

A group of kids began to huddle on the 10-yard line after the football teams left the field prior to the game and to say a prayer, he shared. The number has grown to about 150 students, he added.

What’s more, a local booster who owns the lot across from the stadium put up a sound system on his property, McLoud said.

The man then gave the kids a wireless mike. When they pray, the prayer comes across his sound system on his own property, McLoud said.

“God is still in Roane County and he is still in control. The lordship of Christ will not be threatened by the Supreme Court.”

    About the Author

  • Lonnie Wilkey

    Lonnie Wilkey is editor of the Baptist and Reflector (baptistandreflector.org), newsjournal of the Tennessee Baptist Convention.

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