Author Topic: High school football coach scores big win at Supreme Court over post-game prayer  (Read 1195 times)

peter_speckhard

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Well, now the question is whether it is wise. I say no.
I can see that if I were the coach in question I would probably have just moved my place of prayer. Much like if some baker didn't want to bake my cake, I would probably just go to a different baker. It takes a lot of energy to fight these battles all the way to the SCOTUS. 

Donald_Kirchner

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Well, now the question is whether it is wise. I say no.
I can see that if I were the coach in question I would probably have just moved my place of prayer. Much like if some baker didn't want to bake my cake, I would probably just go to a different baker. It takes a lot of energy to fight these battles all the way to the SCOTUS.

Indeed. Earlier, I heard a portion of an interview with the coach. He said that he would do the same thing over again, but he's not sure if he would choose the 7-year battle.

I guess I'm rather dense this morning. I'm not following your analogy. The coach is more akin to the baker, not the customer, right?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 01:10:11 PM by Donald_Kirchner »
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Dan Fienen

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More idiocy. And a blatant attempt to use the free speech and freedom of religion principle to advance a particular act of faith in a public setting. OK, so the coach is allowed. If he cares for peace in his community and has any concerns for those around him who might disagree, he will not do it. It is absurd to think that this is the only way, let alone an appropriate way for him to pray after a game.
What should  be the rules for being religious in public? May public employees or public officials be visibly religious as they go about their business?  Could a public official wear a visible cross? How about a yarmulke, or Representative  Tlaib's Hijab? Pres. Biden and Speaker Pelosi have been celebrated for and made much of their Roman Catholic faith and their disagreement with some Catholic teachings. It was suggested that Justice Barrett's devout Catholic faith disqualified her from service, perhaps because whe does not dissent from Catholic teaching.


Gay Pride month is just ending, marked by numerous Gay Pride parades and events. Numerous politicians and other public figures have made much of being gay. Would a Christian Pride month be out of line? Public figures publicly celebrating their Christianity?


There are often tensions between the Free Exercise, Establishment, and Free Speech Clauses which together form one sentence in the First Amendment. Must we resolve those tensions by always favoring one, the same clause, absolutely over the others?
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 01:54:01 PM by Dan Fienen »
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Donald_Kirchner

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It is absurd to think that this is the only way, let alone an appropriate way for him to pray after a game.

Not only quite appropriate but Constitutionally protected as well.

"The opinion stated that... he was not acting in the normal scope of his duties because  the game was over, he was not providing instruction or game strategy, and that he prayed at a time when he was free to do other things like 'attend briefly to personal matters.

Justice Samuel Alito also recognized in a concurring opinion that Kennedy prayed 'while at work but during a time when a brief lull in his duties apparently gave him a few free moments to engage in private activities.'"

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/high-school-football-coach-scores-big-win-supreme-court-post-game-prayer
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There ate ARE often tensions between the Free Exercise, Establishment, and Free Speech Clauses which together form one sentence in the First Amendment. Must we resolve those tensions by always favoring one, the same clause, absolutely over the others?[size=78%] [/size]

In fact, the Court specifically pointed out that they are one sentence requiring the government not to intrude on the people's right regarding any of the three subjects of the sentence.  The First Amendment is not an al la carte menu where anyone can "chose one of the above, or maybe two - either/or".  The whole thing spells out those rights of the people, not to be infringed by any level of the government or by their minions.  The "Clauses" are not separable.  Makes for some serious thinking necessary in difficult cases, instead of a knee-jerk selection of one "right" to protect or violate as is unfortunately often seen.

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Interestingly, the complaint came from the parents of an atheist football player who worried that his playing time might be affected if he didn't participate. True, coaches have all kinds of power over high school players, and simply saying "you don't have to do this," doesn't alleviate much of the pressure to do it if you think it is what the coach really wants. But that is the nature of someone having a lot of power. The same thing happens with teachers who don't force anyone to do anything but let their own views be known-- it can pressure kids to want to get in good with the teacher by agreeing. Not much that can really be done about the basic workings of social pressures short of having all of our children's role models be robots.

But my real interest in this case is different. I can see how a religious person can be harmed by being forced/expected to participate in the rites of another religion. But it is hard to see how an atheist is harmed. After all, the coach regularly tells the players what to do. He makes them run laps, he tells them to huddle up, he leads cheers for the school, whatever. The players are expected to go along with it even if they think it is stupid. And that is really all that happens to an atheist who is part of a prayer huddle-- he does something he thinks is stupid. He isn't in the same position as practitioner/believer of another religion, who might be guilty of blasphemy, idolatry, or some violation of his religious principles by taking part. In his own mind, they aren't talking to anybody, they just think they are. It is a silly show. But no sillier than the rowdy, get fired up huddle before the game. So even if he sort of feels obligated to participate, how has the atheist been harmed by participating?

I think the atheist has been harmed if he is forced to participate in a prayer, but in a different way than a player of a different religion, whose god or religion might forbid it. How has the atheist been harmed? By being forced to pretend. It is degrading. If I were an atheist I might not go to the prayer, or, if I were too timid to risk losing the coach's favor, I might stand there without saying anything. But if I were expected to pray I would feel violated.

Being forced to pretend you believe something you know (or think you know) to be false, or being expected to assure other people that you believe it, is an affront, a humiliation, a degradation. Even if it is slight or a mere feeling that is hard to put your finger on, it is there. It is the feeling of an atheist in a prayer huddle. No, it doesn't hurt him to play along. But it irks him, and rightfully so, to be expected to.

That's how I feel when someone tells me their pronouns. I'm like an atheist who has just been invited/expected to participate in a whole heap of religious bullcrap I don't believe in. No, it won't hurt me to play along, but it rightfully irks me to be expected to. And the same is true of people who ask me to wear a mask when we all know the paper thing they're handing me doesn't do squat. It doesn't really harm me to wear a mask. It is the expectation that I play along with something I believe to be fundamentally false that irks me. Again, in those circumstances, I am like the atheist at the 50 yard line.

I think the SCOTUS got it right. The atheist can't insist that the believer not be a believer. I can be irked by people offering me their pronouns, but I can't claim a constitutional right not to be confronted by them. A coach who offers pronouns is a coach praying to a god I don't believe in. So be it. I can play along or not. And a coach praying to whatever god or God he prays to is doing something an atheist doesn't believe in. Bummer. What we need is basic respect for people's different beliefs rather than a demand that everyone hide their beliefs.
 


However, would you participate in an inter-faith prayer service? It wouldn't hurt your faith knowing that, for example, a Muslim was praying to a god that doesn't exist?
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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There seems to be a new (?) Rule concerning Supreme Court decisions. If one agrees, the decision is absolutely the law of the land to be respected and followed by all, period. If one disagees, then it is an illegitimate decision, calls into question the legitimacy of the court, could not have been reached legitimately, and must be ignored if not overruled.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 02:35:32 PM by Dan Fienen »
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peter_speckhard

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Well, now the question is whether it is wise. I say no.
I can see that if I were the coach in question I would probably have just moved my place of prayer. Much like if some baker didn't want to bake my cake, I would probably just go to a different baker. It takes a lot of energy to fight these battles all the way to the SCOTUS.

Indeed. Earlier, I heard a portion of an interview with the coach. He said that he would do the same thing over again, but he's not sure if he would choose the 7-year battle.

I guess I'm rather dense this morning. I'm not following your analogy. The coach is more akin to the baker, not the customer, right?
Be it the coach, the school, the baker, or the gay couple, the point is that you invest a lot of time and energy in saying, I would rather take this all the way to the Supreme Court than give in. Im too lazy for that.

Donald_Kirchner

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Well, now the question is whether it is wise. I say no.
I can see that if I were the coach in question I would probably have just moved my place of prayer. Much like if some baker didn't want to bake my cake, I would probably just go to a different baker. It takes a lot of energy to fight these battles all the way to the SCOTUS.

Indeed. Earlier, I heard a portion of an interview with the coach. He said that he would do the same thing over again, but he's not sure if he would choose the 7-year battle.

I guess I'm rather dense this morning. I'm not following your analogy. The coach is more akin to the baker, not the customer, right?
Be it the coach, the school, the baker, or the gay couple, the point is that you invest a lot of time and energy in saying, I would rather take this all the way to the Supreme Court than give in. Im too lazy for that.

Gotcha. My confusion was in that the gay couple in the cake case put forth very little effort and were not even a party to the legal action. The Colorado Civil Rights Commission did the heavy lifting and was the baker's adversary in the case.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 02:25:47 PM by Donald_Kirchner »
Don Kirchner

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MaddogLutheran

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There seems to be a new (?) Rule concerning Supreme Court decisions. If one agrees, the decision iabsolutely the law of the land to be respected and followed by all, period. If one disagees, then it is an illegitimate decision, calls into question the legitimacy of the court, could not have been reached legitimately, and must be ignored if not overruled.

That's always been the rule.  ;)
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MaddogLutheran

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It is absurd to think that this is the only way, let alone an appropriate way for him to pray after a game.

Not only quite appropriate but Constitutionally protected as well.

"The opinion stated that... he was not acting in the normal scope of his duties because  the game was over, he was not providing instruction or game strategy, and that he prayed at a time when he was free to do other things like 'attend briefly to personal matters.

Justice Samuel Alito also recognized in a concurring opinion that Kennedy prayed 'while at work but during a time when a brief lull in his duties apparently gave him a few free moments to engage in private activities.'"

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/high-school-football-coach-scores-big-win-supreme-court-post-game-prayer

I listened to most of the oral arguments of this case live, and was confused by the record (particulars of the conduct) as the specific behavior wasn't being debated by the justices or the advocates.  What I heard was abstracts and hypotheticals.  Initially I thought the coach was in the wrong and the school had a point.

Reading commentary this morning, and I believe it was summarized in Gorsuch's opinion, was that initially the coach was praying alone after the game, at midfield, when he had no work responsibilities.  To counter that, the school assigned him responsibilities during that time so that they could subsequently have reason to prohibit his prayer, because he was "on duty".  I also understand the dissents dispute these facts, but I've read commentary that they are conflating sequencing in what could be considered a bad-faith way.  But whatever, haven't read this opinion yet (or Dobbs).  Both the dissents and the school seemed concerned about the implication that such faith activity could be perceived as state endorsed, ala the Lemon test, now dead, and apparently for a while now, just unreported.

It does sound more like what the Colorado Civil Rights Commission did to the cake baker, went out of their way to mess with him.  I didn't fully understand that until this morning, and was a bit surprised at the result, being misled by the oral arguments (a lesson to all).
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 02:37:48 PM by MaddogLutheran »
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MaddogLutheran

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I continue to believe that the best way to examine a question is to test the opposite case.  Would you trust a President Hillary Clinton with the powers of the Patriot Act, for example?

Imagine if the coach in question was (1) a Muslim and prayed at midfield after a game.  Also imagine that (2) the school did something to interfere with that.

What would everyone be saying?  My responses would be:
1.  Cool
2.  That ain't right
(For bonus points, imagine a MAGA school board majority)

Being a noticeably observant Christian shouldn't be stigmatized (even as I am definitely not a showy public prayer).
« Last Edit: June 27, 2022, 02:47:10 PM by MaddogLutheran »
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peter_speckhard

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I continue to believe that the best way to examine a question is to test the opposite case.  Would you trust a President Hillary Clinton with the powers of the Patriot Act, for example?

Imagine if the coach in question was (1) a Muslim and prayed at midfield after a game.  Also imagine that (2) the school did something to interfere with that.

What would everyone be saying?  My responses would be:
1.  Cool
2.  That ain't right
(For bonus points, imagine a MAGA school board majority)

Being a noticeably observant Christian shouldn't be stigmatized (even as I am definitely not a showy public prayer).
Used basically the same example in an FL article from a while back about using our carillon system despite some objections from neighbors. Would I make the same case for a Mosque's calls to prayer? And the answer was yes. Some things make noise (cheering crowds, fireworks, trains, sirens, etc.) and we expect people to deal with that noise (within limits) whether they like it or not. The fact that church bells are "church" bells and not an ice cream truck should be irrelevant in the eyes of one enforcing a noise ordinance. But many people (now thankfully shot down by the SCOTUS) have reasoned that the establishment clause allowed the state to treat religious things differently than the way they treat secular things. In their view, somehow allowing church bells was imposing religion, which is forbidden, while allowing ice cream trucks was imposing nothing religious and therefore not forbidden. It was always a bogus argument, it just took a while for it to formally lose. 

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Well, now the question is whether it is wise. I say no.

This is why I have supported Humanism being recognized as a religion, so that public displays of humanism can also be banned. 

Now if we can only have PRIDETM declared a religion and our young people can no longer be forced to participate in school sponsored PRIDE rituals.
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peter_speckhard

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Interestingly, the complaint came from the parents of an atheist football player who worried that his playing time might be affected if he didn't participate. True, coaches have all kinds of power over high school players, and simply saying "you don't have to do this," doesn't alleviate much of the pressure to do it if you think it is what the coach really wants. But that is the nature of someone having a lot of power. The same thing happens with teachers who don't force anyone to do anything but let their own views be known-- it can pressure kids to want to get in good with the teacher by agreeing. Not much that can really be done about the basic workings of social pressures short of having all of our children's role models be robots.

But my real interest in this case is different. I can see how a religious person can be harmed by being forced/expected to participate in the rites of another religion. But it is hard to see how an atheist is harmed. After all, the coach regularly tells the players what to do. He makes them run laps, he tells them to huddle up, he leads cheers for the school, whatever. The players are expected to go along with it even if they think it is stupid. And that is really all that happens to an atheist who is part of a prayer huddle-- he does something he thinks is stupid. He isn't in the same position as practitioner/believer of another religion, who might be guilty of blasphemy, idolatry, or some violation of his religious principles by taking part. In his own mind, they aren't talking to anybody, they just think they are. It is a silly show. But no sillier than the rowdy, get fired up huddle before the game. So even if he sort of feels obligated to participate, how has the atheist been harmed by participating?

I think the atheist has been harmed if he is forced to participate in a prayer, but in a different way than a player of a different religion, whose god or religion might forbid it. How has the atheist been harmed? By being forced to pretend. It is degrading. If I were an atheist I might not go to the prayer, or, if I were too timid to risk losing the coach's favor, I might stand there without saying anything. But if I were expected to pray I would feel violated.

Being forced to pretend you believe something you know (or think you know) to be false, or being expected to assure other people that you believe it, is an affront, a humiliation, a degradation. Even if it is slight or a mere feeling that is hard to put your finger on, it is there. It is the feeling of an atheist in a prayer huddle. No, it doesn't hurt him to play along. But it irks him, and rightfully so, to be expected to.

That's how I feel when someone tells me their pronouns. I'm like an atheist who has just been invited/expected to participate in a whole heap of religious bullcrap I don't believe in. No, it won't hurt me to play along, but it rightfully irks me to be expected to. And the same is true of people who ask me to wear a mask when we all know the paper thing they're handing me doesn't do squat. It doesn't really harm me to wear a mask. It is the expectation that I play along with something I believe to be fundamentally false that irks me. Again, in those circumstances, I am like the atheist at the 50 yard line.

I think the SCOTUS got it right. The atheist can't insist that the believer not be a believer. I can be irked by people offering me their pronouns, but I can't claim a constitutional right not to be confronted by them. A coach who offers pronouns is a coach praying to a god I don't believe in. So be it. I can play along or not. And a coach praying to whatever god or God he prays to is doing something an atheist doesn't believe in. Bummer. What we need is basic respect for people's different beliefs rather than a demand that everyone hide their beliefs.
 


However, would you participate in an inter-faith prayer service? It wouldn't hurt your faith knowing that, for example, a Muslim was praying to a god that doesn't exist?
Probably not in any official capacity. In a strictly personal capacity I would want to evaluate the service and the situation first. In neither case, your point doesnt address the point I made. I am a believer. Therefore I can be guilty of blasphemy or idolatry according to my own beliefs. An atheist, by definition, cannot be guilty of blasphemy or idolatry according to his own beliefs.