East Brunswick High football coach Marcus Borden has a big problem, and it has nothing to do with his team's uniforms (although it should). Welcome to the nation's least-controversial subject: Prayer in school.
At issue is whether Borden can pray with his team after games (the students are allowed to pray, but the school district does not allow teachers to lead the prayer or participate). In 2006 the U.S. 3rd District Court of Appeals unanimously reversed a lower court ruling that allowed Borden to silently bow his head and kneel while his team prayed. Now he wants to take it to the Supreme Court, where fun and hilarity will most assuredly ensue.
Let's bring out our contestants:
"I understand that a coach cannot lead the prayer, but just to be there bowing his head? This violates a person's personal faith," said Steve Robinson, Middle Tennessee director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"There's a pretty bright line here — school officials may not pray with students during their contract day," said Charles Haynes, senior scholar at the First Amendment Center.
On the one hand, if this law was in force in the 1950s, there would be large chunks of the movie Hoosiers that would be missing. But on the other, let's say that I'm a football coach, and I want my team to join me in praying to the Lord Yoda, as I do following every victory because I am a devoted member of the Church of the Jedi. Sure my religion is nutty, but there are great special effects, and shouldn't my right to follow it be protected by the Constitution? Along with Satanists, Snake Handlers and Baptists? Sorry to shock you with that last one.
But Borden is saying that he doesn't want to lead the prayer, he just wants to silently pray nearby without interceding. Sure he does. And he wants his quarterback to call the offensive plays, and his linemen to run laps on the honor system.
Baby Jesus, would you please use your tiny baby Jesus powers to resolve this issue peacefully? Amen.
Case Could Bar Coaches From Praying With Players [The Tennessean]