Well, this is a really good week for Christians.
First, the Supreme Court told Maine officials that if you plan to have a school voucher program, religious schools cannot be included. Then Roe v Wade, which was followed by Coach Kennedy’s case and allowed a coach to conduct a short silent prayer after the football game.
Let me start by telling you, as I have dedicated my life to working in the media, for the most part you cannot trust the press to fairly and accurately anticipate what the Supreme Court has done in these cases. The sharpest thing you can do, is to go to a website called www.scotusblog.com and read the cases and decisions verbatim. This site provides you with direct links to decisions and objections.
You might think, without a law degree, following a Supreme Court decision is difficult, but it’s not. In fact, it’s surprisingly easy. By reading the decisions on both sides of the issue, only then can you really understand why the judges rule the way they do and form your own opinion. If you rely on a tweet from USA Today to inform you correctly, you will be lost hopelessly or misled.
I will give you an example.
I think, based on media reports, Kennedy’s case is about a public-school coach praying in a public field and encouraging other students to join him. Strongly argued that even if he didn’t say a word to the other kids on the team, there was implied pressure to participate. Some players, in fact, worry that if they don’t pray, they will be treated differently. and maybe get a little time to play. The opposite is true.
In reading the actual decisions I learned that there was no evidence that he punished or praised the students whether they joined him or not. In fact, the school district fired the coach because they felt that if he prayed after the game, he was not doing his duty as coach and watching over the kids. However, the court found that no other coaches were disciplined if, after the game, they would go and grab a hotdog, or go to the stands to meet with their families.
The kids on the team scattered to find their own loved ones after the game. The only person the school district cared about was the coach who took a moment to say a silent prayer.
If you read the verdict, you also see that the judges are concerned that the suppression of this coach and his right to freedom of speech, could open a door to other disciplines of free speech. If a teacher at lunch bows their head to “say grace” in front of others, isn’t that the same offense? If two teachers in the faculty lounge want to talk to each other about any topic, isn’t that also a violation because they are “government employees” in a public place?
These are the issues raised in this case, but I don’t think there is an article you’ve read that talks about that. It’s easier to say it’s just about the separation of church and state and he shouldn’t be allowed to pray on a football field. There seems to be this push to tell the “religious types” that they have the right to talk to their invisible friend in heaven, as long as they do so at their church on Sunday; just don’t do where you are seen by people especially if you are a public employee. However, that is not what the First Amendment says.
What is interesting about all three cases that seem to be in line with religious right, is how they can all be avoided when there is little common sense and tolerance from the opposite side.
In Maine they have a program that provides tuition assistance to parents that can be used in private schools, as long as they are not religious. Why? Who is hurt? If there is such a program here, some may use it to send one child to Albany Academy and another to Catholic Central. What’s wrong with that? It would be better for them to end the program completely than ban some schools.
Now look at Roe v Wade.
Most of the country favors abortion in the first trimester. In France the cut off is 84 days, Italy is 90. My point is that most Europeans agree with most Americans. Did congress pass a law codifying abortion rights? No. They once again abdicated their responsibility, throwing it at the foot of the court. Now we have states where it is impossible to have an abortion and some have almost no restrictions until birth.
Also, congress can resolve this now.
Then there’s the coach praying. He did not lead anyone in prayer. He did not call the children to pray. He just wanted to kneel and thank his God. With all the problems in the world, shouldn’t we just ignore him? No. Let’s get rid of him instead.
They say success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan. If we are honest, the people who are most angry about the recent decisions from the Supreme Court should look in the mirror.
John Gray is a news anchor on WXXA-Fox TV 23 and ABC’S WTEN News Channel 10. His column is published every Sunday. Email him at [email protected]