The Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Praying Football Coach Is Good for Religious Americans—Including Religious Minorities

In the words of the late Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s 1971 decision in the case of Lemon v. Kurtzman, which struck down a Rhode Island law that gave government support to religious schools, is akin to “some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, . . . frightening the little children and school attorneys.” But the court appears to have overturned the ruling completely in its recent decision in favor of Joseph Kennedy, a high-school football coach who was prohibited from praying silently before football games. Howard Slugh explains:

The Supreme Court found that the school violated the coach’s right to exercise his religion freely. The court explained that “respect for religious expressions is indispensable to life in a free and diverse Republic—whether those expressions take place in a sanctuary or on a field, and whether they manifest through the spoken word or a bowed head.” The school’s attempt to “punish an individual for engaging in a brief, quiet, personal religious observance” was unconstitutional.

This holding is of the utmost importance to religious minorities such as Jews and Muslims who are frequently called upon [by their beliefs] to engage in public acts of religious expression. Attempts by those in the media to paint this decision as somehow harmful to religious minorities are misguided at best and deliberately misleading at worst. Today, no Jewish public-school teacher has to fear that his public school might fire him for saying a blessing before he takes a drink of water. No Jewish or Muslim public-school teachers have to fear that they will be fired for wearing religious garb.

In Lemon v. Kurtzman, the Supreme Court [had] created a highly subjective test that “called for an examination of a law’s purposes, effects, and potential for entanglement with religion” in order to determine whether it created an unconstitutional “establishment” of religion. If you find that difficult to understand, you are not alone. No one has ever been able to figure out what the court actually meant.

One thing that is clear is that Lemon was bad for religious Americans. Before Lemon, the Supreme Court had never once found that a person’s public display of religion violated the constitution. As Justice Gorsuch noted, “after Lemon, cases challenging public displays under the [First Amendment’s] Establishment Clause came fast and furious.”

Read more at RealClear Religion

More about: Freedom of Religion, Sports, Supreme Court


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy