The Supreme Court Will Soon Decide Whether Praying in Public Schools is a Firing Offense

“In April,” Vincent Phillip Muñoz writes, “the Court heard oral arguments in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, a case involving a football coach at a public high school who lost his job after repeatedly kneeling on the 50-yard line in post-game prayer.” Muñoz notes that school officials had good reason to believe that the coach’s conduct violated tests used by the Supreme Court to enforce the Constitution’s establishment clause. This case, he argues, presents an opportunity to overturn harmful and erroneous precedents regarding “what constitutes a prohibited establishment of religion.”

The Court’s “endorsement” test holds that state actors, including public-school officials, may not endorse religion. . . . A different establishment-clause precedent prohibits schools from “psychologically coercing” students to pray. That test, created by Justice Anthony Kennedy, led the Court to strike down nondenominational invocations and benedictions at high-school graduations (Lee v. Weisman, 1992). And the Court still has not thrown out Chief Justice Warren Burger’s “Lemon” test that requires the government act with a secular purpose, not advance religion, and also not “excessively entangle” itself with religion.

These long-established establishment-clause precedents all derive in one way or another from the Court’s original “wall of separation” decision in Everson v. Board of Education (1947). They also mean that, once school-district officials found out about Coach Kennedy’s prayers, they were all but obligated to try to stop it lest they face a lawsuit for “endorsing” religion, indirectly coercing students to pray, or improperly advancing religious belief.

Therein lies the first of several problems with the Court’s establishment-clause precedents. They effectively demand government hostility toward religion. If school district officials don’t act against religious activities and expressions, they will be sued by the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, or some other like-minded progressive activist organization. The easiest way for administrators to avoid controversy is to simply keep religion off school grounds.

Read more at First Things

More about: American law, Freedom of Religion, Supreme Court, U.S. Constitution

Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria