E-mail this page E-mail this



In Defense of Prayer

Claim:   Paul Harvey or news commentator Andy Rooney wrote an essay in favor of prayer.

INCORRECTLY ATTRIBUTED

Examples:

[Collected via e-mail, December 2004]

Paul Harvey says:

I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his theory of evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game.

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 asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game.

"But it's a Christian prayer," some will argue.

Yes, and this is the United States of America, a country founded on Christian principles According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect — somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.

If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.

If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.

And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit.

When in Rome ...

"But what about the atheists?" is another argument.

What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit 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 do.

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

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.

Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well ... just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard ... that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, 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 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!

God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him. God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.

God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

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

Keep looking up.
 

[Collected via e-mail, January 2009]

Paul Harvey and Prayer

Paul Harvey says:
This is the United States of America , a country founded on Christian principles.

One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations.

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. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.

God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me.

The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want. It is time that the majority rules! It's time we tell them, 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 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!

God bless us one and all ... Especially those who worship Him, God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all. God bless our military who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

Let's make 2009 the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions .. And our military forces come home from all the wars.

Keep looking up.
 

[Collected via e-mail, January 2011]

Andy Rooney says:
I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin , but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his Theory of Evolution.

Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. 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 asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game. But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America and Canada , countries founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect — somebody chanting Hare Krishna?

If I went to a football game in Jerusalem , I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer.
If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad , I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer.
If I went to a ping pong match in China , I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha.


And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit.
When in Rome .....
But what about the atheists? Is another argument.
What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humour us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit 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 do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations. 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. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying.
 

Origins:   Often titled "Paul Harvey and Prayer," the piece listed above has been circulating on the Internet since 2000. Although it has been variously attributed to long-time radio commentator Paul Harvey, political commentator Andy Rooney, and to someone named Samuel Thompson, most of it is the work of Nick Gholson, a sports writer for the Times Record News in Wichita Falls, Texas. Gholson's September 1999 essay (which was a fair bit longer than the version later circulated via e-mail) decried the prohibition against school-led prayer at high school football games. It kicked off with a few paragraphs about the need for a sense of humor which prefaced the following bit, leading into the Internet-circulated version's "I don't believe in Santa Claus ..." opening:
Take this prayer deal. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Some atheist goes to a high school football game, hears a kid say a short prayer before the game and gets offended. So he hires a lawyer and goes to court and asks somebody to pay him a whole bunch of money for all the damage done to him.

You would have thought the kid kicked him in the crotch.

Damaged for life by a 30-second prayer? Am I missing something here?

I don't believe in Santa Claus ....
Also excised from versions now in circulation was the following section, which contained references to national sports events and figures of the day as well as teams local to Wichita Falls:
I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations. Nor do I believe that not praying will result in more serious injuries on the field or more fatal car crashes after the game.

In fact, I'm not so sure God would even be at all these games if he didn't have to be. That's just one of the down sides of omnipresence. Do you think God Almighty himself would have watched Spearman beat Panhandle 50-0 Friday night if he didn't have to?

If God really liked sports, the Russians would never have won a single gold medal, New York would never play in a World Series and Deion's toe would be healed by now.
Though most of the Internet-circulated version of this essay is undeniably the work of Nick Gholson, its ending is not. Gholson's 1999 column about prayer at football games terminated with " ... well, just sue me." The part which now lies beyond that (quoted below) was penned in 2003 by someone unknown to us:
The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we let that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard ... that the vast majority don't care what they want. It is time the majority rules! It's time we tell them, 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 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!

God bless us one and all ... especially those who denounce Him. God bless America, despite all her faults. She is still the greatest nation of all.

God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God.

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

Keep looking up.
Somewhere during the course of its murky textual history, the Gholson/unknown author patchwork came to be attributed to Paul Harvey. This misapprehension has in turn been helped along by its appearance in the print media (e.g., a December 2004 letter to the editor of the Denver Post made this declaration). Paul Harvey, the popular radio personality best known for his "Rest of the Story" offerings, at various times had a number of Internet-circulated essays mistakenly laid at his feet, including These Things I Wish for You (a postulation of adversity's being good for children), The Man Without a Face (false tale that a horrible experience in Mel Gibson's life inspired the film of that name), and a glowing review of the 2004 film The Passion.

Barbara "paul bearers" Mikkelson

Last updated:   12 January 2011

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2014 by snopes.com.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.

Sources:

    Gholson, Nick.   "Taking Offense at Prayer? God Help Us."
    [Wichita Falls] Times Record News.   5 September 1999.

    Nelson, Rose Mary.   "The Open Forum — Letters to the Editor."
    The Denver Post.   5 December 2004   (p. E2).

    Times Record News.   "Internet Can Be Questionable Source for Facts in Some Cases."
    29 December 2004.