Springtime in the Smoky Mountains

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ACLU Silencing Praying Coaches

From OneNewsNow.com
By Charlie Butts

Are public school coaches permitted to pray silently alongside their players? The Rutherford Institute is taking this question to the U.S. Supreme Court for a decision.

Coach Marcus Borden ran into trouble with a new policy at East Brunswick High School in New Jersey, which stated that coaches cannot recognize prayers initiated by their players because coaches are public employees and their participation would violate "separation of church and state." Borden told WorldNetDaily that he simply wants to bow his head during the prayer out of respect for his students and his team.

John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute says the school's policy would nullify a tradition that has been part of the high school's pre-game routine for the last 25 years.

"But in our case, all Coach Borden wanted to do was to bow his head silently as the students prayed in the locker room -- sometimes what they call 'take an eagle.' They'd go down on one knee, and he's standing outside behind the circle of players," he explains. "He's not influencing them. He's just listening and really just doing what coaches have done -- since Knute Rockne, by the way."

The Institute won on a lower level, but the ACLU convinced the school district to appeal. "It's a very important case. We've had a lot of people file briefs on our behalf," Whitehead adds. "I think the Supreme Court's going to hear this case. It's going to really set the tone for what can be done in public schools."

Whitehead believes this policy, if it stands, will strip high school teachers and coaches across the nation of their First Amendment and academic rights.

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