Las month I was fortunate to be invited to attend the Honda Indy in Toronto. I was treated to a box seat with food, drink and awesome, front-row seats. Thankfully, they also provided ear plugs! Never having been to a race (except stock car racing up north when I was a child), I hadn’t realized how freaking LOUD a racing event could be!
I am an observer by nature and in a new situation I am taking it all in. And so before the main race that afternoon, in addition to the singing of the U.S. and Canadian National anthems, the announcer prayed for the drivers. Over the loudspeaker. A Christian prayer.
I was and still am, puzzled by this. At a time and in a country where inclusiveness is paramount, I found it odd that a Christian prayer was permitted at a public event. This wasn’t a church service where people of a similar faith gather. It was for anyone and everyone to attend, so I wondered why it wasn’t religion-neutral or at least, a little more inclusive.
Now I understand the “why” about the prayer. Anyone who has witnessed an accident on the track can understand the role of prayer, as accidents are often devastatingly fatal. I get that. My issue wasn’t with the “why,” it was with the prayer itself. And it’s not like I was offended, per se, I grew up as a Christian. I can appreciate a prayer said in Jesus name. But if I were Jewish, Muslim, or Atheist even, how would I feel about being at the races that day? Would I have felt like I were on the outside?
I did some research via Google and my limited understanding is that Nascar racing has its roots in the southern U.S. And perhaps the majority of race car drivers and fans are Christians, I don’t know. I still feel though, that there could be a way for the Indy to be religion-inclusive while staying true to its roots. Maybe a few words could be said before the prayer, inviting people from all faiths to join together in prayer or positive thoughts.
After all, isn’t the purpose to wish good fortune and protection for the drivers by all?