Steve Gunn, EagNews
DECATUR, Ind. – There are a lot of dangers for American teens in high schools these days, ranging from drugs, physical bullying and random violence, to the alarming number of teachers who use social media to sexually prey on students.
Yet some groups, like the Freedom From Religion Foundation, spend countless staff hours, and a significant amount of money, working to make sure kids aren’t exposed to prayer.
The FFRF, based in Madison, Wisconsin, was up in arms when it recently discovered that the girls’ tennis coach at Bellmont High School in Decatur, Indiana led his players and their parents in a simple prayer at the last match of the season.
The prayer prompted the FFRF to write to the district superintendent and object. Then the organization boasted in a press release that the “prayerful coach” received a “talking to” for his actions.
“The U.S. Supreme Court has continually struck down school-sponsored prayer in public schools,” the FFRF wrote to the district superintendent. “The coach’s conduct is unconstitutional because he endorses and promotes his personal religion when acting in his official capacity as a school district employee. Therefore, he may not lead his team in prayer and he may not organize or advocate for students to pray.”
North Community Schools Superintendent Brent Lehman responded with the following, according to the FFRF:
“I have investigated your report of June 16, 2016. The athletic director met with the coach about the allegedly improper behavior. The coach was reminded about rules and he expressed his intent to follow these rules in the future. The athletic director intends to issue a reminder to the entire coaching staff when school resumes this fall about such matters.”
That prompted a statement from the victorious anti-Christian group: “The FFRF is pleased at the swift reaction.”
Some on the political left will congratulate the FFRF for its dogged determination to “protect” young students from what they consider the dangers of prayer.
But the FFRF is like a small city fire department, with one tanker and three firefighters, charged with dousing fires of all sizes across the entire nation. Its task is far too overwhelming.
This fall, when school resumes, thousands of coaches throughout the U.S. will again be leading their teams in prayer – before games, after games, and probably at halftime, too. They do it because they believe in the fundamental goodness of faith, and its potential to benefit the vulnerable young people in their charge.
In the absence of legal threats from the FFRF, most school administrators will happily look the other way. That’s because they already have their hands full trying to deal with the many situations that pose real danger to children. And they know they will get very little support from their communities if they try to stop kids from praying, under any circumstances.
If any coaches happen to be “caught” by the FFRF (and the odds of that happening for most coaches are very long), many will find ways to continue the harmless tradition in a technically legal manner, or under the radar, or in open defiance – with the support of the vast majority of players, parents and citizens.
Free Americans often stand strong for what they know to be right and good, even if the government and its attack dogs object. It’s called civil disobedience, and it’s a grand tradition in our free republic.
Meanwhile, there are several powerful conservative legal organizations, like the Alliance Defending Freedom and the American Center for Law and Justice, that will consult with school districts, free of charge, when they are harassed by the FFRF.
Many school districts have stood up to the FFRF’s bullying, received free legal representation, and won their cases in court.