Why the Supreme Court Decision is a Victory
for the Constitution and Religious Freedom
in the Santa Fe school prayer case.
My understanding of the Santa Fe school prayer case in Galveston, Texas, is this:
- A student election decided whether or not to give a pre-game student message.
- If a message was voted for, another student election decided which student would give the message.
- The elected student could then decide what the message would be, religious or non religious.
- If a prayer was selected, it could only be a non denominational, non proselytizing prayer.
- The stated secular purpose of the student message was to "solemnize and dignify the football game".
Now here is why this is blatantly unconstitutional. The school district, an agent of the state, was sanctioning a process whereby the majority of the student body (presumably Southern Baptist) determined who would conduct a prayer service at school (state) sponsored events. The election process virtually guaranteed that minority religions would not get equal access. The school (state) also was in a position of setting the guidelines to which the prayer, if any, would conform to, as it had to be non denominational and non proselytizing (in effect the state was exercising the power of prior censorship over the content of prayer). Two students, a Catholic and a Mormon, objected that this was a violation of church-state separation, and they were right. The majority religion, through the power and sanction of the state, was trying to subject a multi-religious audience to a religious service / "Christian prayer" under the pretence of blessing or sanctifying a game of violence. Majority rule (under state auspices) in religion is precisely what the constitution was trying to prevent.
This ruling does not prohibit prayer in the school, or in the stadium before, during, or after the game, by individuals or groups. It does prohibit state control and sanction of prayer over the school (state) controlled stadium sound system, which is coercive in nature, i.e. forcing the entire audience in the stands to hear the prayer, when there are surely those who object to it in principle and in content.
Mat 6:5 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.
Mat 6:6 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.
How does forcing your prayer onto a large crowd through the power and sanction of the state harmonize with what Jesus said? Isn't it a case of the "religious right" wanting to take control of a high-power state-owned sound system to pray, and to be seen of men doing so? Jesus Himself calls them hypocrites!
In-Your-Face Prayers At High School Football Games
Supreme Court Documents regarding SANTA FE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DIST. v. DOE (99-62)