Separation Of Church and State takes a big hit

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ASPartOfMe
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28 Jun 2022, 7:06 pm

The Supreme Court Dealt A Big Blow To The Separation Of Church And State - FiveThirtyEight

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On Monday, the Supreme Court released an opinion that could erode the separation between church and state. In Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the court’s conservative majority ruled that a public high school football coach was within his rights to pray at midfield after games. In doing so, the court abandoned a decades-long precedent on how the First Amendment is interpreted.

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The Supreme Court recently ruled that a public high school football coach has a constitutional right to pray on the field after his team’s games. It’s yet another seismic ruling from the court’s six conservative justices this term — and a big blow to the separation of church and state.

This case is about Joe Kennedy, a football coach at a public high school in Bremerton, Washington. For seven years, Kennedy would kneel in prayer on the 50-yard line after games, and students would often join him. First he prayed alone quietly, but then, when players from both teams started gathering around him, he led them all in prayer. When school officials found out this was happening, they told Kennedy he could continue giving motivational speeches only as long as they remained secular, because doing otherwise would give the impression that the school was endorsing a particular faith. Kennedy wouldn’t stop and was placed on paid administrative leave. Eventually, he decided not to renew his contract.

The case is a clash of three parts of the First Amendment. Kennedy’s lawyers argued that offering a private prayer is actually covered by one part of the First Amendment — the right to free speech. They said Kennedy didn’t lose that right just because he was on school property. And they argued that the school shouldn’t ban his religious expression, which according to them is protected under the part of the First Amendment that says people can freely exercise their religion.

But the school says that Kennedy was violating another part of the First Amendment — the part that says the state can’t establish a religion. In the context of public schools, that’s generally interpreted to mean that they and their employees should remain neutral toward religion. They can’t elevate one religion over another. And even though Kennedy wasn’t explicitly requiring his players to pray, there’s a long line of cases where the courts have said that public school employees are not allowed to pressure students into prayer — which was arguably what Kennedy was doing as the team’s coach. At least one student worried that Kennedy wouldn’t play him as much if he didn’t pray.

On its face, the case may not seem groundbreaking, and the court’s decision may be pretty popular. An early June poll by YouGov and The Economist found that 52 percent of Americans think the coach should be able to offer a public prayer. But with this ruling, the justices abandoned a 50-year-old legal test for determining whether the government is violating the First Amendment’s separation of church and state. Instead, they said that cases should be evaluated in light of the historical traditions of the First Amendment — traditions stemming from the late 18th century, when America was a far less religiously diverse nation.


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28 Jun 2022, 7:09 pm

Separation of Church and State is one of the main bases of the "experiment" which the founders of our nation wanted to pursue.

People became colonists in the New World so they can get away from established religion.



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29 Jun 2022, 2:42 am

The GOP is upset primarily about this:

People rejecting the quintessential 1950s traditional nuclear family. They want to punish anybody who deviates from that, even though other families and types of relationships existed then.

LGBT couples in the 50s? Yep (though they couldn't get married then)
Single-parent homes? Mm-hmm
Legal abortion? In some states, yes
Interracial couples? You bet--even some celebrity interracial couples.



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29 Jun 2022, 7:14 am

We have the right to pursue any belief we want or choose none at all. I choose mine for personal reasons. I've been let down by certain beliefs before. I choose to go through life without letting any god or devil tell me what to do or what to think or what to feel. If conservatives don't like it, TFB. I've grown tired of a religion that has been blind to its own corruption, hypocrisy, and fascism. You can beat me with a bible all you want, but it doesn't turn me into a god fearing Christian like the rest of the hateful bunch. I grow more resentful with each beating.


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29 Jun 2022, 7:45 am

I respect everyone's right to practice their religion. But, when you're in a public environment surrounded by other people who may not share your beliefs, certain practices can infringe upon those people's religious or nonreligious rights. Does this ruling apply to all religions? What if that coach was Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist leading students in prayer? Would the court have made the same decision?



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29 Jun 2022, 9:13 am

I do not get it.  Prayer has always been allowed in public schools, as long as it was was not forced or coerced by a public employee, or sanctioned by the school district.

AFAIK, no child has ever been arrested for praying for a record snowfall on exam day.



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29 Jun 2022, 9:25 am

Fnord wrote:
I do not get it.  Prayer has always been allowed in public schools, as long as it was was not forced or coerced by a public employee, or sanctioned by the school district.

AFAIK, no child has ever been arrested for praying for a record snowfall on exam day.


I think the problem is that he is praying with other students rather than silently. People don’t need to turn it into this big display.

I would not be happy if my son was in sports and his coach did this. “At least one student worried that Kennedy wouldn’t play him as much if he didn’t pray.”


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Fnord
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29 Jun 2022, 9:53 am

Twilightprincess wrote:
Fnord wrote:
I do not get it.  Prayer has always been allowed in public schools, as long as it was was not forced or coerced by a public employee, or sanctioned by the school district.  AFAIK, no child has ever been arrested for praying for a record snowfall on exam day.
I think the problem is that he is praying with other students rather than silently. . .
The problem is that some people see a public employee praying and assume that he or she is violating the law.

The coach prayed in public (no law against that) while "off the clock" (no law against that), and the people praying with him did so voluntarily (no law against that, either).

If anyone felt coerced to join him, that "coercion" was all in their own minds.



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29 Jun 2022, 9:57 am

Fnord wrote:
Twilightprincess wrote:
Fnord wrote:
I do not get it.  Prayer has always been allowed in public schools, as long as it was was not forced or coerced by a public employee, or sanctioned by the school district.  AFAIK, no child has ever been arrested for praying for a record snowfall on exam day.
I think the problem is that he is praying with other students rather than silently. . .
The problem is that some people see a public employee praying and assume that he or she is violating the law.

The coach prayed in public (no law against that) while "off the clock" (no law against that), and the people praying with him did so voluntarily (no law against that, either).

If anyone felt coerced to join him, that "coercion" was all in their own minds.


Why can’t he pray silently?

No one is saying that he can’t pray. Why does it need to be a big display at a public school that could infringe on other people?

I have a big problem with this.

And yes, it could feel coercive to the students who view him as an important authority figure.


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29 Jun 2022, 10:02 am

There's an excellent reason school prayer was banned in the US in 1962.

People were very conservative in 1962----but they had a good sense of people's rights in those days.



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29 Jun 2022, 10:08 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
There's an excellent reason school prayer was banned in the US in 1962.

People were very conservative in 1962----but they had a good sense of people's rights in those days.


In the 90’s in my school, we had this very large wooden board with the Ten Commandments etched on it in the entryway. The town had a fit when it was finally removed.


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29 Jun 2022, 10:10 am

Whenever my family openly prayed aloud in restaurants, it was almost entirely so other people could overhear us and had little to do with their supposed personal relationship with a deity.

Even as a kid, I thought it was rude.


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Last edited by Twilightprincess on 29 Jun 2022, 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

Fnord
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29 Jun 2022, 10:11 am

Twilightprincess wrote:
Why can’t he pray silently?
Who says he was not?
Twilightprincess wrote:
No one is saying that he can’t pray. Why does it need to be a big display at a public school that could infringe on other people?
What big display?  A man kneels on the 50-yard line, clasps his hands, dips his head, and prays.  Where were the banners proclaiming the glory of the Lord?  Where were the trumpets, the big bass drums, the clanging gongs?  Nowhere.  How was he infringing on other people?  When did he block their way out of the stadium?  In whose face did he impose his own?  If they do not like seeing other people pray, then they do not have to look at them while they are praying!
Twilightprincess wrote:
I have a big problem with this.
Yes, and apparently the same 'problem' other people have when someone else gives thanks to the Lord.
Twilightprincess wrote:
And yes, it could feel coercive to the students who view him as an important authority figure.
Again, any coercion they felt was solely in their own minds.



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29 Jun 2022, 10:13 am

Fnord wrote:
Twilightprincess wrote:
Why can’t he pray silently?
Who says he was not?
Twilightprincess wrote:
No one is saying that he can’t pray. Why does it need to be a big display at a public school that could infringe on other people?
What big display?  A man kneels on the 50-yard line, clasps his hands, dips his head, and prays.  Where were the banners proclaiming the glory of the Lord?  Where were the trumpets, the big bass drums, the clanging gongs?  Nowhere.  How was he infringing on other people?  When did he block their way out of the stadium?  In whose face did he impose his own?  If they do not like seeing other people pray, then they do not have to look at them while they are praying!
Twilightprincess wrote:
I have a big problem with this.
Yes, and apparently the same 'problem' other people have when someone else gives thanks to the Lord.
Twilightprincess wrote:
And yes, it could feel coercive to the students who view him as an important authority figure.
Again, any coercion they felt was solely in their own minds.


People can “give thanks” without kneeling in the middle of a football field. :roll:

It’s inappropriate behavior for a public school. I would complain if I was present and I’m a teacher.


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29 Jun 2022, 10:17 am

The fact is that he was leading children in prayer. That’s not okay.


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29 Jun 2022, 10:17 am

Twilightprincess wrote:
Fnord wrote:
Twilightprincess wrote:
Why can’t he pray silently?
Who says he was not?
Twilightprincess wrote:
No one is saying that he can’t pray. Why does it need to be a big display at a public school that could infringe on other people?
What big display?  A man kneels on the 50-yard line, clasps his hands, dips his head, and prays.  Where were the banners proclaiming the glory of the Lord?  Where were the trumpets, the big bass drums, the clanging gongs?  Nowhere.  How was he infringing on other people?  When did he block their way out of the stadium?  In whose face did he impose his own?  If they do not like seeing other people pray, then they do not have to look at them while they are praying!
Twilightprincess wrote:
I have a big problem with this.
Yes, and apparently the same 'problem' other people have when someone else gives thanks to the Lord.
Twilightprincess wrote:
And yes, it could feel coercive to the students who view him as an important authority figure.
Again, any coercion they felt was solely in their own minds.
People can “give thanks” without kneeling in the middle of a football field. :roll:
"Can" does not imply "Should".  It is a matter of personal choice.  Do you also object to Sikhs wearing their turbans in public?  How about Buddhist monks in their saffron robes?  Does seeing a woman with her hair completely covered also offend you?  The problem is not with public displays of religious beliefs, but with the people who object to them.