Public displays of faith: Do they affirm faith or trivialize it?

For many of the 100,000-plus in attendance at Penn State's spacious Beaver Stadium that crisp November day, it was one of the most enduring images of the 2011 college football season: a pre-game gathering of uniformed players and coaches from both the Penn State and Nebraska teams in the center of the football field, kneeling and holding hands in prayer.

The storied Penn State football program was awash in a firestorm of scandalous news reports involving long-time assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and allegations of child abuse. Legendary coach Joe Paterno had been fired just a few days before the game, and it seemed that the place known as Happy Valley was reeling with an emotional mix of anguish, angst and righteous indignation.

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