The right of Americans to practice their religion was in serious danger.
One man was even fired from his job just for praying by himself.
But now the Supreme Court has protected the right of all Americans to worship however they want.
Religious freedom was the root of America’s founding. The pilgrims came to America because they were a religious minority in England and the Netherlands and were being oppressed.
One of Thomas Jefferson’s proudest accomplishments before the American Revolution was his drafting of the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom in the Virginia House of Delegates.
The First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
This means that under the law, Americans have a right to practice whatever religion they want, however they want. It applies to Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and everyone else.
But one football coach was not afforded those liberties by his employer, a local public school.
After a game, he went to the 50-yard line by himself and kneeled in prayer. He did not force any of his players to kneel with him, or broadcast his prayer to the whole stadium. He just prayed by himself.
And what did the school do? They fired him for it.
This was a travesty, but luckily the coach made the smart decision to file a lawsuit against the school for abridging his freedom of religion.
And sure enough, he won the case.
According to CNBC, “the Supreme Court on Monday sided with a football coach from Washington state who sought to kneel and pray on the field after games.”
“The court ruled 6-3 along ideological lines for the coach. The justices said the coach’s prayer was protected by the First Amendment.”
“The case forced the justices to wrestle with how to balance the religious and free speech rights of teachers and coaches with the rights of students not to feel pressured into participating in religious practices. The outcome could strengthen the acceptability of some religious practices in the public school setting.”
Of course, Coach Kennedy, the coach involved, did not pressure any students to pray with him. Had he done so, it would have been a violation of their religious freedom since a public school is a government institution.
But he did not. He prayed on his own. He worshipped his own God on his own time, and the school fired him for it.
The CNBC article continues, “the decision is also the latest in a line of Supreme Court rulings for religious plaintiffs. In another recent example, the court ruled that Maine can’t exclude religious schools from a program that offers tuition aid for private education, a decision that could ease religious organizations’ access to taxpayer money.”
The government has no right to treat religious people like they are second-class citizens. It is totally possible to protect the rights of freedom of religion for all people, without having them conflict with each other.
And it’s about time the Supreme Court stepped up and finally protected this right.