Over the last few days, many Evangelical Christians have rejoiced in two landmark Supreme Court decisions. The most notable, of course, is the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. I plan to write my reflections on that decision soon, but I’m still sorting through my very mixed emotions about it and prefer to take a bit more time to think. However, the second decision, released on Monday July 27th is also significant, and I don’t need as much time to think about it, so I’ll comment on it first.
Most readers will be familiar with the basics of the case: High school football coach Joseph Kennedy lost his job over his refusal to stop his practice of praying at the 50-yard line after games. He sued, claiming that his rights of freedom of religion and free speech were violated and, ultimately, the Supreme Court sided with him. The case is obviously more complex than that, but my reflections don’t really address the merits of Mr. Kennedy’s case or of his prayer practice. I believe his faith is genuine and that as a Christian he sincerely desired to honor his Lord and Savior as well as publicly giving glory to God after the game, win or lose.
And I believe he should have the right to express his faith publicly. However, I have a question.
What if the coach had been a Muslim? And what if he had wanted to express his Muslim faith via a 50-yard-line post-game prayer? Or what if he’d been a Hindu? Or Sikh? Or Buddhist? Or Wiccan?
Would those who now celebrate Mr. Kennedy’s victory still be rejoicing?
Would they support his efforts to express his faith publicly?
Or would they be afraid that a Muslim was trying to convert their children?
Would our conservative Supreme Court have affirmed his right to pray to Allah at the 50-yard line? I hope so, but I wonder…
I’m by no means a legal or constitutional scholar. But it seems to me that the establishment clause was intended to prevent the government from favoring one religion over another. So, I think this is a good decision provided it’s a decision that applies to all faiths.
I believe Coach Kennedy should have the right to express his faith publicly. But when a Muslim, or Hindu, or Sikh, or Buddhist wants to do the same thing, they should be allowed that same freedom.
That’s what freedom of religion is all about.
If you don’t think so, then perhaps you don’t really believe in freedom of religion. You believe in freedom for Christians, which is something very different.
And if that’s what the Supreme Court just affirmed, then they just threw the establishment clause under the bus.
That’s my tuppence worth. What’s yours?
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