Standing Firmly Crooked on Freedom of Religion

by Ryan on March 2, 2009

in Culture,Religion,Sports

A football coach from East Brunswick High School in New Jersey, Marcus Borden, was reprimanded for being involved in a student-led prayer a few years ago.  The incident took place during a team dinner before a game in 2005.  A cheerleader present at this dinner didn’t like how the coach was nodding his head during the student-led prayer.  She talked to a few people about it, as well as her parents, and a complaint was made to the school district.  Being that the coach had done this kind of thing for over 20 years, he disagreed with the district’s complaint and brought a suit since it was not he who was leading the prayer.  Borden resigned in protest, but was allowed to continue without participating in any more student-led prayers. 

So, for the last few years Borden v. School District of the Township of East Brunswick has dominated the local news around my neck of the woods.  Recently, the federal appeals court out of Phily sided with the district, but could not offer instructions as to what he is constitutionally allowed to do as coach during a student-led prayer.  So, Borden appealed to the Supreme Court.  Today the high court refused to hear his case.  So, the appeals court decision stands and the issue remains firmly crooked.   

There are plenty of different views on this case, and being a teacher in Central Jersey this issue and case are well-known to me and my colleagues.  Is nodding one’s head or taking a knee classified as a violation under the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause as a public employee advocating a religion if the prayer was initiated and led by students before a football game?  I don’t think it should be.  The Supreme Court’s refusal to hear this case baffles me further since the lower court did not clarify the issue one bit, muddying the prohibition, begging for another lawsuit one day.  Still in limbo with anti-religious forces drooling at the opportunity to squash all vestiges of religion out of public life, a similar case is bound to reappear sometime in the future.  By its inaction, nothing was solved today by the Court in my opinion.

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