• This is a political forum that is non-biased/non-partisan and treats every person's position on topics equally. This debate forum is not aligned to any political party. In today's politics, many ideas are split between and even within all the political parties. Often we find ourselves agreeing on one platform but some topics break our mold. We are here to discuss them in a civil political debate. If this is your first visit to our political forums, be sure to check out the RULES. Registering for debate politics is necessary before posting. Register today to participate - it's free!

Are post-game prayers unconstitutional?

Are post-game prayers unconstitutional?


  • Total voters
    23

Unbeknownst

DP Veteran
Joined
Apr 7, 2021
Messages
555
Reaction score
367
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Progressive
Given that this issue is going before the supreme court, I want to see DP's opinion on it.

An article for background information:
(BREMERTON, Wash.) — A coach’s personal act of prayer that grew into a public spectacle after Bremerton High School football games is now a major test of the First Amendment in a case this month before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The coach, Joe Kennedy, who was suspended by the school in 2015 over post-game prayers on the field, is asking the justices to affirm the right of public school employees to pray aloud while on the job, even when within view of students they coach or teach.

“This is a right for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re this religion or that religion or have no faith whatsoever,” Kennedy told ABC News . “Everybody has the same rights in America.”

The school district says Kennedy’s prayers, some of which were surrounded by players at the 50 yard-line, are hardly private acts of faith and run afoul of constitutional prohibitions against promotion of religion by government officials.

The First Amendment protects free speech and free exercise of religion, but it also prohibits the establishment of religion by the government. The Supreme Court has long said that public school-sponsored prayer violates the Establishment Clause, even if the prayer is voluntary.

It has struck down Bible readings and teacher-led prayer in classrooms, religious invocations at graduations and religious displays at other school sponsored activities. In a 2000 case, Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, the court said that opening football games with student-led prayer is also unconstitutional.

At the same time, the court has ruled that free speech rights don’t end at the schoolhouse gate and that religion need not be entirely expunged from public schools.

While Kennedy routinely prayed on the field after games for more than seven years, attracting varying levels of participation from students, it wasn’t until 2015 that the school district informed him that separation of church and state meant he could no longer pray with players and keep his job.

“They just said if anybody could see you anywhere here, it was over,” Kennedy said.

The school district explained at the time that the prayers violated “constitutionally-required directives that he refrain from engaging in overt, public religious displays on the football field while on duty.”

Some Bremerton High School parents like Paul Peterson, whose son Aaron played for coach Kennedy in 2010, later complained the prayer sessions were applying inappropriate pressure.

“The coach is a leader. The coach is a mentor. If he goes to the 50-yard line, he has a message he wants to deliver, and so the players would follow,” said Peterson in an interview.

“The harm is to those who are the minority students, the minority faiths, the students who have no faith,” he said. “They are being pressured into doing something that they don’t fundamentally agree with. That’s what the First Amendment protects us from.”

Kennedy insists there was no coercion, though widely publicized scenes show his post-game prayers became much more than solitary acts of faith.

Attorney Jeremy Dys, representing Kennedy on behalf of the First Liberty Institute, said the coach should not be held accountable for the voluntary decisions of others to join him in an expression of faith.

“He’s not on the field coaching anybody, he’s not telling what play to run. No instruction taking place,” Dys said. “School districts don’t own every word out of your mouth or any religious expression that you choose to make in your private time, even on school grounds.”

A federal appeals court called Kennedy’s characterization of his prayers as brief, quiet and solitary as a “deceitful narrative,” noting that they were clearly audible prayers surrounded by groups of students, amounting to unlawful religious speech as “a school official.”

“If this were a case about a coach who in fact wanted to pray privately, in a solitary manner, we wouldn’t be here,” said Rachel Laser, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a nonprofit advocacy group backing the school district. “You don’t leave that behind when you go teach or coach at a public school, but what you do leave behind is your ability to engage students who are very impressionable, who are required to attend public school.”
Rest of the article can be read here: https://1430wcmy.com/2022/04/06/public-school-coach-asks-supreme-court-to-ok-post-game-prayers/#
 

Grand Mal

Russian warship, go f*** yourself!
DP Veteran
Joined
May 6, 2013
Messages
46,088
Reaction score
27,463
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Liberal
Given that this issue is going before the supreme court, I want to see DP's opinion on it.

An article for background information:

Rest of the article can be read here: https://1430wcmy.com/2022/04/06/public-school-coach-asks-supreme-court-to-ok-post-game-prayers/#

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6: 5-6

I don't know about unconstitutional but according to Jesus they're hypocritical.
 

Patriotic Voter

Christian Democrat
DP Veteran
Joined
Dec 12, 2019
Messages
25,269
Reaction score
6,869
Location
Flaw-i-duh
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
Of course not. There is no law mandating participation in postgame prayers. That is what the First Amendment does: prevent Congress from making laws forcing people to act a certain way against their religious beliefs.
 

MamboDervish

Looking Forward
DP Veteran
Joined
Apr 24, 2020
Messages
10,760
Reaction score
10,315
Location
The Big Apple
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Progressive
Given that this issue is going before the supreme court, I want to see DP's opinion on it.
While I certainly don't pretend to speak for DP, I can offer my own opinions about prayers related to sports.

I've always felt that if a person were praying to prevail over another sports team, or thanking god for their own victory, that they were certainly praying to a very, very low god. Anyone who thinks the Divine Creator of the universe would even deign to intervene on their behalf in sporting events should be embarrassed, and ashamed of their own blasphemy.
 

ttwtt78640

Sometimes wrong
DP Veteran
Joined
May 22, 2012
Messages
89,868
Reaction score
53,570
Location
Uhland, Texas
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Libertarian
Praying on public property (e.g. US Capitol) or led by government employees (e.g. chaplains) is not unconstitutional.



 

Bodi

Just waiting for my set...
Supporting Member
DP Veteran
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
Messages
114,415
Reaction score
24,586
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
I always wished that I could know what team God was rooting for so I could place a solid bet.
 

Bodi

Just waiting for my set...
Supporting Member
DP Veteran
Joined
Sep 29, 2007
Messages
114,415
Reaction score
24,586
Gender
Undisclosed
Political Leaning
Undisclosed
While I certainly don't pretend to speak for DP,
What if I nominate you DP Spokesperson?
I can offer my own opinions about prayers related to sports.

I've always felt that if a person were praying to prevail over another sports team, or thanking god for their own victory, that they were certainly praying to a very, very low god. Anyone who thinks the Divine Creator of the universe would even deign to intervene on their behalf in sporting events should be embarrassed, and ashamed of their own blasphemy.
 

LouC

DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Messages
13,349
Reaction score
10,646
Location
Near Boise, ID
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
Given that this issue is going before the supreme court, I want to see DP's opinion on it.

An article for background information:

Rest of the article can be read here: https://1430wcmy.com/2022/04/06/public-school-coach-asks-supreme-court-to-ok-post-game-prayers/#
Given my memory on this issue, admittedly I have not refreshed my memory, but that said I believe that I had felt at the time were I the judge I would have decided his actions were unconstitutional based on the evidence that was presented.

So that is how I voted in the OP Poll.
 

AJG

DP Veteran
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
1,814
Reaction score
1,154
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
Voted other because I don't think post game prayers in itself is unconstitutional even if it is public, but if students are being pressured into participating then I think it is. I'm not yet sure if that's the case here, I still need to watch the video.
 

lwf

DP Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
16,785
Reaction score
10,811
Location
PNW
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
Of course praying in public is not unconstitutional, so long as it is not mandated.
 

LouC

DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Messages
13,349
Reaction score
10,646
Location
Near Boise, ID
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
Of course praying in public is not unconstitutional, so long as it is not mandated.
Not mandated officially but there is such a thing as mandate by undue influence and or possible duress as well as the fact it became ritualistic with the obvious inherent peer pressure to participate, another form of mandate by undue influence and or duress, then we have the venue i.e. school property, students were still in their uniforms, at a school activity on that school property so that it was, in full essence, become a School Function by fiat, one overseen by the player's coach i.e. their immediate authority figure in that entire situation.

Or at the time that was much of my way of thinking.
 

lwf

DP Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
16,785
Reaction score
10,811
Location
PNW
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
Not mandated officially but there is such a thing as mandate by undue influence and or possible duress as well as the fact it became ritualistic with the obvious inherent peer pressure to participate, another form of mandate by undue influence and or duress, then we have the venue i.e. school property, students were still in their uniforms, at a school activity on that school property so that it was, in full essence, become a School Function by fiat, one overseen by the player's coach i.e. their immediate authority figure in that entire situation.

Or at the time that was much of my way of thinking.
The school should handle this IMHO. If someone is experiencing peer pressure to join a religion, a gang, or a cult, it is the school's responsibility to address this. I don't see how it crosses the line into violating freedom of religion or warrants federal oversight. If a public school is mandating prayer and actively punishing students for not praying, then students should have legal recourse. But once you start introducing things like undue influence and implied peer pressure, I feel that it quickly falls out of the realm of the federal government to address. Maybe it's the libertarian in me.

If the coach expressly punished a student for refusing to pray, then there should be recourse. But if there is no actual mandate that anyone can point to other than the influence the coach has over the team, then I think prayer is fair game and protected under the first amendment, even if the entire team is praying except for one student. Unless that student can make a solid argument that such prayer is mandatory, I think the coach and the school should be off the hook.
 
Joined
Sep 20, 2021
Messages
3,083
Reaction score
3,314
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Liberal
Public prayers are so against the teachings of Christ and are a complete dick move by people wanting to show others how much faith you have. You don't need to make a stupid spectacle. I don't think they are unconstittutional, but its complete bullshit nad unnecessary, prayer does not need a side show, and its not abouty you praying to god in those cases, its about trying to shove your faith in everybody's face
 

EMNofSeattle

No Russian ever called me deplorable
DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2014
Messages
41,928
Reaction score
12,387
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Conservative
Given that this issue is going before the supreme court, I want to see DP's opinion on it.

An article for background information:

Rest of the article can be read here: https://1430wcmy.com/2022/04/06/public-school-coach-asks-supreme-court-to-ok-post-game-prayers/#
I mean it violates a false version of the constitution pounded through the courts By activist lawyers in the 1960s. But then when you realize Public prayers through public institutions were never viewed as unconstitutional for the majority of America’s history than we must conclude that the current view of “separation of church and state” is actually wrong.

So I’m hopeful the Supreme Court will make moves to roll back the false view promulgated illegally by the courts in the 1960s.
 

JMR

DP Veteran
Joined
Nov 12, 2017
Messages
14,923
Reaction score
9,091
Location
Not over the edge yet
Gender
Female
Political Leaning
Slightly Liberal
School sponsored prayer is unconstitutional. The coach wants to make believe that he is praying in a "private" capacity, after the school told him he could not do this as part of his job.
I think it is wrong to have these group praying exhibits, which coerce some to join in, or subjects them to ostracizing because they do not.
Pray at home and in your churches all you want. These public displays are inappropriate, and the school was right to tell coach to stop.
Of course the current makeup of the court might find a way to establish prayer as a part of football.
 

LouC

DP Veteran
Joined
Jan 16, 2019
Messages
13,349
Reaction score
10,646
Location
Near Boise, ID
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Very Liberal
The school should handle this IMHO. If someone is experiencing peer pressure to join a religion, a gang, or a cult, it is the school's responsibility to address this. I don't see how it crosses the line into violating freedom of religion or warrants federal oversight. If a public school is mandating prayer and actively punishing students for not praying, then students should have legal recourse. But once you start introducing things like undue influence and implied peer pressure, I feel that it quickly falls out of the realm of the federal government to address. Maybe it's the libertarian in me.

If the coach expressly punished a student for refusing to pray, then there should be recourse. But if there is no actual mandate that anyone can point to other than the influence the coach has over the team, then I think prayer is fair game and protected under the first amendment, even if the entire team is praying except for one student. Unless that student can make a solid argument that such prayer is mandatory, I think the coach and the school should be off the hook.
The school had handled it. The coach took it to court.
 

lwf

DP Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
16,785
Reaction score
10,811
Location
PNW
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
The school had handled it. The coach took it to court.
Ah. I think schools should have the right to control teachers behavior around students to a certain degree. I don't think allowing a coach to make a public spectacle out of praying during a game is unconstitutional, and neither do I think it is unconstitutional for a school to ask him not to.

I side with the school on this. I would also side with them if they allowed the coach to pray during games. And I would side with the school if they asked a Muslim coach not to drag a prayer rug out onto the field to pray to Mecca during a game as well, and I would side with them if they allowed him to do so. School's prerogative on this as far as I'm concerned. Teachers don't have a constitutional right to disrupt school proceedings for religious reasons, and neither do students have a constitutional right to not be subjected to someone else's religious behavior.
 

EdwinWillers

"Who will tell us the truth?"
DP Veteran
Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Messages
10,559
Reaction score
7,644
Location
Red Colorado
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6: 5-6

I don't know about unconstitutional but according to Jesus they're hypocritical.
And yet, not 3 verses later, starting in verse 9, and on the same occasion, and to the same crowd of people:
Jesus expounds on how to pray - specifically teaching them the Lord's Prayer.

...in public.

In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching about hypocritical prayer - ostentatious prayer - prayer not to God, but to those around you, to be seen by others for the purpose of their accolades - hence Him saying "They have their reward."

The closet example is just that - an example by way of contrast - contrasting standing on the corners of streets with just the opposite, going to one's closet instead.

Fwiw, there are numerous instances of Jesus praying in public:
Luke 9:12ff, John 6:1ff Jesus prayed before feeding the 5,000 - in public.
Mt 15:22ff Jesus prayed again before feeding the 4,000 - in public.
On the cross, before enormous crowds, Jesus prayed several times - in public.

There's nothing wrong with public prayer, and certainly nothing biblical that prohibits it - save doing so for the sole sake of being seen by others.

If a school or public institution forces, or mandates people pray, that would be another issue - but in the context here, the coach did nothing wrong.
 

Phys251

Purge evil with Justice
DP Veteran
Joined
Jul 24, 2011
Messages
52,409
Reaction score
36,999
Location
Georgia
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Slightly Liberal
Voted other because I don't think post game prayers in itself is unconstitutional even if it is public, but if students are being pressured into participating then I think it is. I'm not yet sure if that's the case here, I still need to watch the video.

I think this is the right answer.

What expectations do the athletes have to pray?
What are the social consequences/rewards for praying/not praying?
 
  • Like
Reactions: AJG

lwf

DP Veteran
Joined
Aug 15, 2018
Messages
16,785
Reaction score
10,811
Location
PNW
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
And yet, not 3 verses later, starting in verse 9, and on the same occasion, and to the same crowd of people:
Jesus expounds on how to pray - specifically teaching them the Lord's Prayer.

...in public.

In Matthew 6, Jesus is teaching about hypocritical prayer - ostentatious prayer - prayer not to God, but to those around you, to be seen by others for the purpose of their accolades - hence Him saying "They have their reward."

The closet example is just that - an example by way of contrast - contrasting standing on the corners of streets with just the opposite, going to one's closet instead.

Fwiw, there are numerous instances of Jesus praying in public:
Luke 9:12ff, John 6:1ff Jesus prayed before feeding the 5,000 - in public.
Mt 15:22ff Jesus prayed again before feeding the 4,000 - in public.
On the cross, before enormous crowds, Jesus prayed several times - in public.

There's nothing wrong with public prayer, and certainly nothing biblical that prohibits it - save doing so for the sole sake of being seen by others.

If a school or public institution forces, or mandates people pray, that would be another issue - but in the context here, the coach did nothing wrong.
The school could argue that it was a disruptive spectacle. Should a Muslim coach have the right to drag a prayer mat onto the field and pray to Mecca during a football game?

It should be up to the school/league to regulate this behavior. If the school doesn't care that the coach makes a public spectacle out of praying at every game, fine. (As long as there is no mandate that anyone else joins him.) If they do care, then they should have the right to prohibit it. No one's constitutional rights are being violated here IMO.
 
Last edited:

j brown's body

CHRISTIAN-ish
DP Veteran
Joined
Jun 18, 2018
Messages
36,525
Reaction score
28,748
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Progressive
Prayers led by students are fine. Prayers led by an authority figure are not.
 

EdwinWillers

"Who will tell us the truth?"
DP Veteran
Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Messages
10,559
Reaction score
7,644
Location
Red Colorado
Gender
Male
Political Leaning
Independent
The school could argue that it was a disruptive spectacle. Should a Muslim coach have the right to drag a prayer mat onto the field and pray to Mecca during a football game?

It should be up to the school/league to regulate this behavior. If the school doesn't care that the coach makes a public spectacle out of praying at every game, fine. (As long as there is no mandate than anyone else joins him.) If they do care, then they should have the right to prohibit it. No one's constitutional rights are being violated here IMO.
If the school doesn't want an employee of theirs to engage in public prayer during, or as part of a school, or school-related activity, then imho they have every right to ask him not to do it.

The question here is - are such prayers "unconstitutional?" And my answer to that would be absolutely not.
 
  • Like
Reactions: lwf
Top Bottom