A West Forsyth, Georgia, runner who came in third of 226 in a state race at Carrollton High School – earning him high nods in the cross country championships – was disqualified and labeled a 226th-place finisher over a flap about the headband he wore, which displayed the Bible reference “Isaiah 40:30-31.”
Coach Clayton Tillery said two of the Georgia High School Association’s race officials had given the all-clear to runner John Green’s headband before the start of the race. A third man not in uniform made a comment about the band at the same time, but walked away before the coach could follow up with questions, the Forsyth News reported.
The newspaper explains the story: “Green was the third runner out of 226 to cross the finish line in the Class AAAAAA state championship race … Soon after collapsing from his effort and offering, as well as receiving, high fives from opponents as they walked by the cool-down tent, Green found out he placed 226th out of 226. … Green was disqualified by GHSA officials for sporting a white, plain head band with ‘Isaiah 40:30-31 written across the front – the same head band the Forsyth County News has photo evidence of him wearing when he was not disqualified in last year’s state meet.”
Green had even turned the headband inside out, as asked by one of the pre-race inspectors, Same Page Nation reported. Photographs of the finish line show the text, in black marker, could still be seen. But the news site also reported the headband’s the same one Green has worn during past years of competition, with no problem.
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The Forsyth County News reporter asked for clarification about the disqualification, but was told “it was a uniform violation.”
The GHSA’s cross country rules do not reference headbands, however.
It reads: “Beanies, toboggans, ear covers” of a single color are allowed, so long as they only include “one logo,” the newspaper reported.
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The newspaper also reported dozens of other runners wore headbands and that Tillery said some of the them actually sported biblical verses, too.
The Isaiah passage reads: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Carl Gallups, a former law enforcement professional and senior pastor of Hickory Hammock Baptist Church in Milton, Florida, and author of several top-ranked and best-selling books – the latest of which is called “Be Thou Prepared: Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble” – said the incident underscores the subtle attacks on Christianity that have taken place around the nation in recent years.
“Here is yet one more example of a direct targeting of all things Christian and biblical by the politically correct thought police in the New America,” he said to WND. “Based upon the details we currently have concerning this travesty the young man abided by the official decisions, including even turning his headband inside out. In other words, the rules and decisions were established before the race with the full cooperation of the runner. It was only after the runner had finished the race that the rules had apparently been changed.”
He went on: “These are the kind of subtle persecutions and marginalizations that occur when the leftist elitists are attempting to eliminate an entire ideology from the culture, namely Christianity, and America’s historical Christian roots. Perhaps next time the runner should consider wearing the scripture verse in Matthew 5 that references: blessed are you when you are persecuted for my name’s sake.”