Apologies to Lisa Herdahl By Wayne Carter
Now Available in Polish

For too long in silence have I listened to the railings of a community caught up in a frenzy of misdirected religious zeal.  I am but one of many who deplore the actions of many of our community who cloak their private agendas with both our national flag and a Christian flag.

As to my citizenship, I am an American by birth, a resident of Pontotoc, MS.  As to my religion, I am of the Christian faith, a member of First Baptist Church of Pontotoc, MS.  As to my education, I am a graduate of Pontotoc High School, Northwest MS Jr. College, and The University of Mississippi.  As to vocation, I am Retail Systems Specialist for SUPERVALU in Indianola, MS. As to my political persuasion, let me say that I find more to my liking among Republicans than Democrats.  As to my sexual orientation, I am heterosexually monogamous.  My marital status is married, a father of one daughter and one son and glad bearer of the title "Daa" from my one granddaughter.  As to political aspirations, I have none and will not serve if elected by draft to any political office.  As to religious freedom, I had it before the Supreme Court ruling in 1962, and I have religious freedom today.

On behalf of all my fellow Pontotoc Countians who have religious freedom, I would like to express a public apology to Lisa Herdahl and family.  Lisa you have been publicly maligned, by well-intentioned individuals whose blatant ignorance of our nation's history and respective church's denominational history is an embarrassment to those of us who stayed awake in history class, in church training or catechism classes.  I do not represent a group of intellectual elitists, but ordinary folk proud to be Americans, proud of our Southern heritage, and proud of our religious freedom.

I resent the use of the "Religious Freedom" slogan heralded by a misguided few.  I consider it an insult to my intelligence when someone insinuates that American citizens do not have religious freedom.  Advocates of this slogan have corrupted an honorable part of our heritage to promote a less honorable agenda.  I do not believe there is a single supporter of this movement, that would willingly, or even under duress, confess to having lost any part of their religious freedom as protected by the Constitution.  What many of these supporters really want is in direct violation of the intent of our founding fathers of this country.  Our forefathers did not intend to allow our system of government to show preference to any religious group.  In a Supreme Court ruling our country recognized that allowing government supported school systems to exercise religious actions at the initiative of the school authorities was in fact a violation of our religious freedom.  Lisa Herdahl, as well as a host of others, recognizes that prayer in school has never been removed and in fact cannot be removed from our schools, short of reducing the minds of students to a vegetative state.  God knows the hearts of individuals, and prayers that are heard by God stem from the heart.  Any vocalization of prayer from the heart is for our edification or for others.

Current proponents of religious freedom are now supporting an amendment to the constitution to allow prayer in the public school system.  Such an amendment, however unlikely to be ratified, would provide more prayers than current proponents would want.  If these supporters really do want the right to so-called student initiated prayer, then they must be prepared to accept student led prayers by all religious groups.  Such would include: Christian students, Jewish students, Black Muslim students, students of various Oriental based religions, and even students who are members of the Church of Satan along with students representing whatever sort of cult may be in vogue.  The morning devotional period could easily last much of the morning, if not all day. For a prayer amendment to be fair and just to all religions we would allow our children in public schools to become victims of religious overkill.  I ask all who cry for a prayer amendment to consider the ramifications of such a proposal.

Two thousand years have lapsed since Jesus the Christ was born.  Jesus often likened people to sheep.  Having had the benefit of the teaching of Jesus, it is sad that the human race can still be described as sheep.  Sheep, I am told, are among the most helpless of animals, ever in need of a shepherd, protector, and provider.  Sheep are prone to follow a leader.  It does not matter if the leader is a thief or criminal or honest man, they just simply follow.  Some folks are led by ignorant leaders, some by leaders whose motives are suspect, and some by leaders who would support any cause if it brought them media attention or popularity or kept them in public office.  Any of the courthouse gatherings of our religious freedom folks have had adequate representation among these various leadership groups.  There will always be people who are unwilling to decide issues for themselves and must rely on the rhetoric of others.  They are but blind followers who do not know where they are going, neither will they know where they are when they get there.

In a recent letter to the editor of the Pontotoc Progress, Lisa Herdahl stated that she has been run out of every church in the community.  I understand this statement to be one that speaks figuratively.  I extend the hand of Christian fellowship to Lisa Herdahl and family, inviting them to worship with my family at First Baptist Church.  Lisa, I feel certain that our membership would welcome your attendance.

The course of events set into motion by the action of the leaders of the North Pontotoc Attendance Center is not irreversible.  There is nothing to be gained by continuing to raise funds for legal battles that are already lost.  Reconciliation could yet occur, however, selfishness and pride will prevent any apologies from occurring.

"The State is not to tell the Church how to do its work, neither is the Church to tell the State how to do its work!" The late and highly respected Baptist leader, Herschel Hobbs so capsuled the issue of separation of Church and State.  Long live separation of Church and State.

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