Separate Sports & State

, Tony Perkins, Leave a comment

A three-judge panel sided with a New Jersey school board which argued that a football coach cannot kneel and bow his head during student-led prayers. Coach Marcus Borden, who has been in the East Brunswick district for more than two decades, had been fighting the school’s policy for three years when officials asked him to stop practicing his faith in front of the team.

After the board intervened in 2005, Borden filed suit. He argued that school employees should have as much right to free exercise as school students. A lower-court judge agreed.

With the help of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, East Brunswick appealed. Because of Coach Borden’s long history of praying before meals and taking a knee in the locker room, the 3rd Circuit ruled unanimously against him, writing, “…[Borden’s] acts cross the line and constitute an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.”

Borden and his attorneys vow to appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. No school is justified in policing its employees’ thoughts and penalizing them based on what they think is going on in their heads.

What next? Will they bar coaches from silently moving their lips if others think it is a prayer?

Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.