Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NJ coach can't pray

A federal court has ruled that a public school football coach is constitutionally prohibited from even respectfully acknowledging the student-led prayers of his team.Marcus Borden is the head football coach at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey. He wanted to bow his head when his team members asked the blessing over their pre-game meal and to join the team in kneeling when they pray in the locker room. But his school district had a policy prohibiting any faculty or staff participation in any student-initiated religious activity. He sued to overturn the policy. The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey struck down the policy as unconstitutional on several grounds. The court found the restriction was overly broad and vague and that it violated Coach Borden's freedoms of speech, religion, association, due process,and academic freedom.But the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals recently disagreed, arguing that "a reasonable observer would conclude that Borden was endorsing religion when he engaged in these acts."The court also said that it does not matter that Borden's intentions were to demonstrate solidarity with his team, not to promote any specific religion. The judges wrote, "We must consider whether a reasonable observer would perceive his actions as endorsing religion, not whether Borden intends to endorse religion." The court used the First Amendment's Establishment Clause which states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" as the basis for their decision forbidding Borden to join in his team's student-initiated prayers.
As in the days of Noah...

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