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This is not new, but it is comming to a head.
Court decision affirms school's 'hostility' to religion
Posted: March 03, 2009
1:29 pm Eastern
© 2009 WorldNetDaily
The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a case involving a high school football coach's effort to respect his players' tradition of stopping for a moment of prayer prior to games, leaving in place an appeals court decision that essentially mandates a school policy of "hostility," according to a law firm whose members worked on the case.
Coach Marcus Borden huddles with his players
"This [decision] undermines a time-honored tradition that has less to do with religion than it does athletic tradition," said John Whitehead, chief of The Rutherford Institute, which argued the case on behalf of Coach Marcus Borden of East Brunswick High School in New Jersey.
"It's a sad statement on our rights as Americans that schools are no longer bastions of freedom. We've become so politically correct and secularized that religious individuals who seek the same First Amendment rights as others are censored," Whitehead said.
As WND reported, a federal court of appeals concluded the high school coach broke the law routinely when he would bow his head or "take a knee" while his team prayed before games – a school tradition for 25 years.
Borden has defended himself, saying, "We're teaching kids values. There's nothing wrong with being spiritual."
The case originated in 2005 when school officials adopted a policy prohibiting employees and representatives of the school district from taking part in student-led prayer. The school said even bowing a head violated the "separation of church and state."
Nonsense, concluded U.S. District Judge Dennis Cavanaugh, who ruled the following year the district's interpretation was wrong and that school officials were infringing on Borden's right to free speech, freedom of association and academic freedom.
Then officials with Americans United for Separation of Church and State joined the school district's side and argued Borden lacked any constitutional right to expression or academic freedom as a public employee.
A ruling from the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with the activists, saying Borden was endorsing religion unconstitutionally.
The Rutherford Institute said the decision was a blow to athletic coaches across the nation, because the rights of coaches to silently bow their heads in respect while student players are offering a pre-game prayer has been called unconstitutional.
The bottom line, Whitehead said, is that the logical interpretation now is that coaches – as well as teachers – have no constitutional rights of liberty, expression or academic freedom in connection with their jobs
The American Football Coaches Association had filed an amicus in support of Borden, declaring that "when the federal courts interpret the Constitution in a way that intrudes into the locker room, invades the player-coach relationship, and undermines a coach's ability to maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect and team unity by showing deference to the prayers of this nation's youth, that concerns the AFCA."
In its brief requesting a Supreme Court review, the Rutherford Institute warned of the impact of the decision.
"By enjoining Coach Borden from showing respect for his players voluntary prayer acts, the decision … requires public school educators to violate the Establishment Clause by showing disrespect and hostility towards student-initiated religious practices," the brief said.
Prior rulings from at least three other federal court circuits have established that schools cannot show hostility to religion, and even the Supreme Court's prior decisions reflect that belief, the institute argued.
"In Lynch v. Donnelly, this Court recognized that the Establishment Clause 'affirmatively mandates accommodation, not merely tolerance, of all religions, and forbids hostility toward any,'" the Rutherford Institute said.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
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