This letter concerns the opening ceremony for North Myrtle Beach’s youth baseball program April 13. According to many people I know who were there, the ceremony was fine and inclusive to all those who were present with the exception of the pastor’s prayer. I did think about not writing this letter; however, I simply cannot and will not ignore religious prejudice any longer.
It is time that we all understand that not everyone is a Christian. There are many tax-paying citizens who live in North Myrtle Beach and Horry County who are not Christians. Our county has diversified over the years to include all religions including Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, Baha’ians, and Zoroastrians, to name a few. There should also be an understanding that we have atheists and agnostics living here in Horry County as well.
When a prayer is given in a public place-paid for by tax dollars from both Christians and non-Christians alike, Jesus Christ may not be referenced. If the North Myrtle Beach Parks & Recreation Department were affiliated with a church, or if it were privately owned, I would not be writing this letter.
I, myself, was not at the ceremonies as I was in synagogue with my middle son (soon to be a Bar Mitzvah) on our Sabbath day (Saturday). However, my husband was there with our youngest son, who is a member of the league, as well as many friends of ours (with their children) who are not practicing Christians. When Jesus Christ is mentioned in a prayer it excludes us and creates an awkward situation. It also makes my child feel as if he is outside of the group, a second-class citizen; which, I believe, was not your intent.
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I believe it is unnecessary to have a prayer during a public function. Prayer belongs in the home, in the church/temple, and in our hearts-not in public. It is a private matter that should not be thrust at someone who is there to support the Parks & Recreation Department, the youth baseball program, and their child. If there must be a prayer (again, I don’t know why there would be one) it should be non-denominational and inclusive of all. The courts have ruled on this issue and are in agreement with me (Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783 (1983); therefore North Myrtle Beach Parks & Recreation has violated the Marsh standard).
It deeply saddens me, and many others I know, that this is not the case at all public gatherings including county council meetings, school board meetings, and any other public, tax-paid situations. It is my sincere hope that this letter helps move us toward a day when everyone’s mind opens a little wider to include all people – especially those who do not share our individual religious beliefs.
The writer lives in Little River.