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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies restart pregame prayer

Heads were bowed and eyes were closed across Kyle Field Saturday as MSC President Ryan Trantham led Aggies in prayer before A&M played Ole Miss.
The invocation led by Trantham is one of three that have preceded the national anthem since the Lamar vs. A&M game at Kyle field.
Student Body President Kyle Kelly led the first two prayers and said an invocation before football games has not been given in Kyle Field since the early 1990s.
Kelly said the idea originated from the South Carolina game when he noticed how the Gamecocks led a prayer before the game. He said he liked the idea, but didn’t think anything more of it.
The following week, Kelly said he received a phone call from Regent Jim Schwertner, who asked if Kelly had also noticed the gameday prayer.
“Our school has got such time honored traditions and values and I thought why aren’t we doing that?” Schwertner said.
Regent Schwertner said the conversation involved a number of people, including Gov. Rick Perry, Chancellor John Sharp and Board of Regents Chairman Phil Adams.
Kelly said he supported the decision to have an invocation, but his role was limited to conversations with the Chancellor’s Student Advisory Council as well as student leaders on campus and student leaders at other A&M System universities.
“We had the prayer at our game and it turns out they’re doing the very same thing at their schools — that they’re having the prayer sometimes at football games and sometimes at other sporting events as well,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he envisions student leaders leading the gameday prayers, but the process to have a prayer approved was ultimately left to officials within the university system.
“Dr. Mark Hussey is the one who ultimately made the decision to have the prayer here in College Station,” Kelly said. “The Chancellor made the decision for the prayer to be said system-wide at all the other system schools as well.”
Kelly said university officials consulted with the A&M Office of General Council to ensure the constitutionality of the prayer.
University System chief legal officer Ray Bonilla said the Office of General Council followed University protocol, but the office would not provide any further comment.
Kelly said many events at A&M involve some kind of invocation.
“We pray at convocations and graduations,” Kelly said. “We pray morning and evening in Duncan. [I prayed Friday] at the Gala for the Association of Former Students distinguished alumni.”
More than a moment of silence, Kelly said he wanted a prayer that would also be applicable to each Aggie, regardless of their religious affiliation.
“I don’t want it at all to be about any person or about any specific religion, but just about a moment just for to us to pray at the beginning of our games as part of the national anthem and different other ceremonial things that we do,” Kelly said.
James Jennay, industrial distribution senior, said he felt having a prayer at a public event sponsored by a public university is significant.
“As a Christian, I completely support what they are doing,” Jennay said. “I praise the fact that they are praying to God before a game, but from an unbiased perspective, I think the prayer in general is very generic and is meant to bring forth good spirit to the game.”
Katherine Kimball, economics sophomore, said she felt the prayer was unnecessary and was potentially a sensitive issue for those who did not prescribe to any religion.
“If the students wanted to do it on their own or even if the players wanted to do it, it would be different, right?” Kimball said. “Like, it would be personal, but I feel like if they have that one overall prayer that you have to do at the beginning of a football game, it kind of makes it more like A&M doing it. Then it makes it look like a public institution supporting a particular religion, which I disagree with.”
Kelly said while he expected more negative feedback, responses have been “overwhelmingly positive.” He said he hopes to address all student perspectives.
“I’ve gotten a lot of great response from students who have really liked it and have been encouraged by it,” Kelly said. “And it’s also extremely important to me that I’ve gotten opinions on both sides. I’ve talked to students and my hope is to have conversations with those who have questions about it or might not like it. I really do care about what they think and how they feel about it.”

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