A recent letter-writer doesn’t understand the difference between NFL players and fans individually praying for an injured player on the field, and a high school football coach leading players and coaches from both teams in an organized prayer on the 50-yard line after each game. (“Coach not wrong to pray on field.”) I would say that the difference between these two scenarios is striking and obvious.
Based on their beliefs, people react differently to situations involving injury or illness. Some people ask their god to intervene, and others would rather put their faith in emergency medical personnel and doctors to save lives. We are free to choose in this country. Nobody is getting put in jail or sued for believing what they believe, or praying in public.
The Bremerton football coach is not a victim of religious persecution. He is a teacher at a public school, which makes him a government employee. His actions are not “private religious expression” as claimed by the Liberty Institute, a Christian Right group based in Texas that is representing the coach, and threatening to sue the Bremerton School District if he is not allowed to continue his post-game prayers. Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, but it also specifies that our government must remain neutral on matters of religion. It is in fact unconstitutional for public school athletic coaches to lead students in prayer and to conduct any religious activity around their students. The Bremerton School District is doing the right thing in prohibiting the coach’s promotion of his religion during the course of his job at a public school event on school property.