Court refuses to take case on coach's team prayer

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a high school football coach who wants to bow his head and kneel during prayers led by his players despite a school district policy prohibiting it.

In an order Monday, the justices are ending Marcus Borden’s fight against the East Brunswick, N.J., school district’s policy that forbids him and other staff members from joining in student-led prayer. The federal appeals court in Philadelphia sided with the district.

The high court declined to weigh in on whether Borden’s desire to bow his head silently and “take a knee” with his football players violates the Constitution’s prohibition on government endorsement of religion. Borden says such gestures are secular.

news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090302/ap_on_go_su_co/scotus_prayer_controversy;_ylt=AhGe2MqBNUqOD5cgbnWCaHU7Xs8F

Well, its about time the sordid story of Marcus Borden came to an end. In his quest to make a point, he denigrated prayer by claiming it was secular, and he walked out on his team while the season was still going on.

Maybe now he can focus on coaching, which is what he should have been doing in the first place.

The high court declined to weigh in on whether Borden’s desire to bow his head silently and “take a knee” with his football players violates the Constitution’s prohibition on government endorsement of religion.

And you blame, the Coach for this?

This is the separation of Church and State, run amok.

Absolutely. I blame Marcus Borden for being defiant at the beginning. When the principal told him “You can’t lead the prayer”, he responded with “Fine, then I’ll knee, and they’ll know what I’m doing. You won’t take this from me.”

Had he done that without trying to tell off the principal, he wouldn’t have made it into the issue it did. This was something of a local story for me, and the general knowledge was that Coach Borden was a very obstinate sort who had deliberately antagonized the principal just to get headlines out of it.

Then, in a totally self-serving move, he refused to coach the team’s next game, in effect telling his players “My feud with the administration is more important than my relationship with you”, which I feel was totally out of line.

This is the separation of Church and State, run amok.

Read Borden’s argument. He claimed that prayer is a secular action. I find that more offensive than the Court’s ruling, because that denigrates prayer.

Obviously, you know more than me regarding this case, but even having heard what you’ve said, this idea of the separation of Church and State has gone too far. Why did the Principal have to say anything at all, is what I’m trying to get at.

I believe that East Brunswick had, and still has, a very significant Jewish minority, and a fairly significant Asian minority. Unless I’m remembering wrong, a group of players felt uncomfortable with the nature of the prayers, and went anonymously to the principal.

That’s really the only way anyone would have known there was a pre-game prayer to begin with; nobody gets in a locker room at game time.

He also chose a terrible legal argument, because I’m not sure how you could argue that prayer is a secular action.

school district’s policy that forbids him and other staff members from joining in student-led prayer

I don’t get it according to the article, it was a student-led prayer, wasn’t he (the coach) angry that he couldn’t participate (with bended knee and head bowed)?

Also, I believe that the Coach was refering to the gestures as secular not the prayer itself. I just reread the article to confirm this.

That’s what the article says, but when the story first broke, Borden was insisting that prayer itself is a secular tradition. I believe his quote was something like “It isn’t a religious thing; prayer is as American as apple pie and baseball”. This is running a few years back, though.

this is another case of judcial activist judges refusing to protect
the freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

schools like this should be defunded , shut down.

the public school system should be abolished, its worthess and does nothing but promote immoral ideologies like secularism and communism.

That’s what the article says, but when the story first broke, Borden was insisting that prayer itself is a secular tradition. I believe his quote was something like “It isn’t a religious thing; prayer is as American as apple pie and baseball”. This is running a few years back, though.

Basically, the coach argued that if he couldn’t violate the religious freedom of his students, his rights were being violated. That is the kind of morally bankrupt philosophy that our Founders intended to keep out of the nation.

No, the philosophy they were trying to prevent was the establishment of a national church ala The Church of England or Islam being the state religion like in Iran.

An individual exercising HIS or HER religious beliefs isn’t and shouldn’t be construed as violating the “separation of church and state” (which isn’t in the Constitution anyway).

In any case, such a violation is only a problem if the church is getting into politics, but if church hospitals and adoption agencies are being compelled to provide services for homosexuals and abortions, then that’s not a problem in the liberals’ eyes. Can’t you see the contradiction? They’re only opposing “violation of separation of church and state” if they don’t benefit.

:confused:

I think prior court cases have established that student organized prayer is acceptable in schools and school functions, but teachers and staff (as paid employees and representatives of the school) are to keep out. The coach wanted to challenge those prior rulings and lost in the lower courts. The Supreme Court saw no merit in the coach’s position so refused to hear it. How is that related to activist judges or freedom of religion/speech? The coach is free to speak or worship however he wants… except when he is on the government’s dime.

It makes no sense that he cannot join in in a student-led prayer, who makes these stupid policies anyways. Like I said, this is separation of Church and State run amok.

This was a local policy. Don’t most conservatives, not saying you are one, favor local control? I would think that conservatives would rejoice in a ruling like this. The court refused to butt in.

John

Local policies can’t violate the Constitution.

True, he said that the local policy was violating his free speech rights. The court apparently didn’t think so or refused to hear it for the exact reason you stated

The district established the ban in 2005 after parents complained about Borden, coach at East Brunswick High School since 1983, sometimes leading prayers at the Friday afternoon team pasta dinner or in the locker room before games. Borden said he wanted to show respect for the students engaged in prayer by bowing his head silently and dropping to one knee.

The district, Borden argued, was violating his free-speech rights by ordering him to stop action he called secular signs of respect. After the ban, the coach stood at attention for the remainder of the season while the students prayed.

John

It doesn’t violate the Constitution. His prayers were explicitly Christian on a team that had significant minorities of Jews, Asians, and agnostics. They went to the principal because they felt uncomfortable, and the principal asked the coach to stop.

Lujack, what you are saying and what the article reveals are two different things. The article states that these were student-led prayers in which he could not join in on (using gestures such as kneeling and bowing one’s head). It was mentioned earlier by someone I’m not sure whom that the policy of the school was that no one who was employed by that school could join in prayer with students.

This is ridiculous.

If you have the right to freedom of religion, then shouldn’t he be allowed to pray, as long as he does not insist other players of different creeds pray with him (emphasis should be put on his right to pray with his Christian players).

Someone should question this policy instead of putting up with it (and I mean for everyone of those school employees who would if not for the policy wish to join in student-led prayers), and I would think it is in violation of the constitution.

For example, if I a Christian were to during the Christmas season greet people of different creeds with “Merry Christmas” I should not consider that a violation of their rights, they could if they wished answer with “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa” or “Happy Winter Solstice” whatever, without either myself or that person offended. This is the correct manner to deal with a multicultural society.

I repeat, the separation of church and state has gone too far.

Why not? E.g., if a school district enacted a policy where all students would be subjected to a full body cavity search at the beginning and end of each school day, I think that would violate their Constitutional freedom from unreasonable searches.

If he wants to go behind a row of lockers and pray, or silently pray while in the locker room or on the sidelines, he’s free to do so. What it sounds like is forbidden is for him to publicly endorse a particular prayer by his participation while on the job. I can think of a couple reasons for this - first, we tell our kids to listen to and follow the examples of teachers, coaches, and other adults at school regarding manners, behavior, etc. Doesn’t always work, and sometimes the adults aren’t good examples to follow, but that’s the general rule. To expect children to throw that rule out the window just in the case of prayer is expecting a lot. Certainly they can be indoctrinated by student-led prayer as well, but they’ll be on slightly more even footing with their peers.

Second, there will always be favoritism in some sports teams. If a student feels that his chances of playing depend on currying favor with the coach, there will be enormous pressure to follow whatever example the coach provides.

I would agree that in the vast majority of cases, government-endorsed prayer is harmless. But I don’t think forbidding it is such a high price to pay to avoid prayers venerating David Koresh, or various anti-Catholic denominations.

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