Debunking the Paul Harvey & Prayer chain email

I once again received a copy of the Paul Harvey & Prayer chain email that’s been passed around the internet for the past six years or so. Normally, I just delete the email without giving it a second thought. But I was feeling a bit snippy this morning, so I decided to do a group-reply, debunking the myth that Paul Harvey wrote the article, and answering the essay’s real author’s (Nick Gholson) points. This is the result:

> Having long respected Paul Harvey as a common sense commentator, his

I love Paul Harvey, too. He’s a voice from my childhood, I loved listening to him with my Grandma way back when. Fortunately, this piece isn’t actually by Paul Harvey. It was written by Nick Gholson in 1999. Somewhere in 2000, someone typed it into an email, said it was by Paul Harvey, and emailled it to their friends. 6 years later, it is still making the rounds, attributed to Paul Harvey. For more information on the origins of the article, check out http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/prayer.asp

As for the contents:

> So what’s the big deal? It’s not like somebody is up there reading the
> entire book of Acts. They’re just talking to a God they believe in and

This is fine if a player wants to pray on their own. Once the entire team is asked to pray together, however, you run into the risk of establishing a religious ritual. Which isn’t allowed in any government entity, including public schools. There’s no problem with a private school doing this; perhaps parents who really want their children to pray before a game should send their children to a private school?

> “But it’s a Christian prayer,” some will argue. Yes, and this is the
> United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles.

Yes, but the founding fathers went to great lengths to ensure that our nation would not push any type of religion, including their own. The Constitution does not establish Christianity as the nation’s religion: instead, it states that there must be no established religion. Freedom to choose religion – or to choose no religion – is a right granted to all Americans. Whether or not they are Christian.

> According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all
> others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect-somebody chanting
[..]
> the concession stand. Call your lawyer! Unfortunately, one or two will
> make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot

The founding fathers also went to great lengths to ensure that a majority could not force its views on the minority. This is where the system of checks and balances comes in. There are situations where the majority – maybe even an overwhelming majority – of people want a law passed. If that law runs contradictory to the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, however, then the law is struck down.

> do. I don’t think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the
> world’s foundations.

It’s not the prayer, it’s the establishment of the religion.

> Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our
> courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us
> to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep.

This is a straw man logical fallacy. There are no laws prohibiting someone to pray on their own. No one is losing their right to pray. It’s only when someone tries to force prayer on others that it becomes an issue.

> you don’t have to pray.. you don’t have to say the pledge of allegiance,
> you don’t have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That

Sounds good so far.

> is your right, and we will honor your right.. but by golly, you are no
> longer going to take our rights away . we are fighting back.. and we WILL
> WIN!

Oops, straw man again. It was never a right to have a school institute a prayer time, nor to have a coach declare that his team must pray before a game. The coach has the right to pray before the game, but he doesn’t have the right to expect the members of his team to pray.

> May 2005 be the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as
> the foundation of our families and institutions.

Hmmm… If this is changed to read, “…and those of us who are Christians put God back as the foundation of our families” then I have no problem with it.

Not my best piece of work, to be sure. But Also definitely not my worst. I thought it was pretty good, considering I wrote it at 7:00 in the morning after getting only 5 hours of sleep!

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