The American Civil Liberties Union instructed Tennessee superintendents to end prayer before public high school football games in order to protect “religious freedom for all your students, including your athletes, and their families who attend the games.”
More than 130 administrators received a letter from Tennessee ACLU Executive Director Hedy M. Weinberg chiding them for sponsoring prayer at the football games:
“As you know, the First Amendment prohibits government policies and practices“respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Both the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause operate to protect the religious liberty and freedom of conscience of all Americans. It is well settled that school faculty, coaches, administrators or invited clergy may not lead students in prayer or conduct a prayer during a school event.”
The ACLU claimed the state may neither promote nor prohibit religious exercise. Instead, it must remain neutral.
However, the government’s three-pronged Establishment Clause test, created in Lemon v. Kurtzman, seems more anti-religious than neutral.
As stated in Lee v. Weisman, to pass the test practices must:
“(1) reflect a clearly secular purpose; (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) avoid excessive government entanglement with religion.”
This four-decade-old approval system takes religion completely out of the public square.
Not to worry though, ACLU’s Weinberg is all about preserving freedom:
“Like you, we want to preserve the sanctity of everyone’s religious freedom, including their ability to choose whether and when to pray. Like you, we do not want to see taxpayers, students and parents in your school district ostracized and excluded if they do not wish to participate in unconstitutional, state-endorsed prayer at athletic events.
Please reproduce and share this letter with your schools’ principals. I welcome any questions or comments you may have and can be reached at 615-320-7142.”
Anyone care to give Weinberg a call?