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Faith Under Fire: Crisis Prayer for Injured Teen Labeled 'Unconstitutional'

02-09-2017
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When an entire high school football stadium in Tennessee witnessed a player suffer a severe blow, many thought he would never walk again.  

He was down on the ground for 30 minutes, crying uncontrollably and unable to move his legs.

Local youth pastor Eric Dill rushed to the boy's side to pray for him. Little did he know that small but powerful act would spark a legal showdown. 

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) heard about the prayer and filed a complaint against the Hamilton County Department of Education, arguing it violated the injured player's constitutional rights. 

HCDE attorney D. Scott Bennett said the prayer had nothing to do with imposing a single religion, but had everything to do with compassion. 

"Rather than being an unconstitutional endorsement of religion," Bennett wrote in a letter to FFRF, "this was human compassion at its finest." The injured student has since made a full recovery.

Even more, when the injured player's teammates saw he was paralyzed, they asked Dill to pray for him. 

"If a student asks me, 'Eric pray for this,' especially in something like this, I'm going to pray," Dill told NBC affiliate WRCB-TV. "If I believe in a God who answers prayers, how bad do I have to hate the kid who's injured or the player who asked, or the players who are hurting not to pray?"

While many applaud his prayer, the school system did not.

Now all public schools in the area will receive training on the legal place of religion in school. 

Despite the backlash, Dill does not resent the FFRF. Instead, he says this situation is another reason why Christians need to share the love of Christ. 

"What I believe is these people need Christ, and we as believers have a responsibility to show them Christ," Dill told Baptist Press. "No one who has ever received Christ's love deserved it; not one person, ever. And I think we as Christians ...  forget that."

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