The Praying Coach<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Kerby <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Anderson
Marcus Borden is a high school football coach in East Brunswich, New Jersey. He is also a recipient of the national Caring Coach of the Year award. And he is in lots of trouble. A spokesman for the ACLU says he has fostered a "destructive environment" for students. So what did he do to create such an environment?
He bowed his head silently during pre-game prayers. Sometimes he even silently knelt down on one knee. Now understand, he didn't pray with the student football players. He merely showed his respect for them silently. But that was enough to set off anyone who believes in the separation of church and state.
One student athletic trainer said it best: "The tradition of student-initiated prayer goes back many, many years. I think with all that is wrong in our schools today, gun violence, bullying, promiscuity, etc. that the energy being spent on Marcus Borden bowing his head and taking a knee is a waste. Here is a man trying to support the youth in his care and be a positive role model and all these administrative yahoos can worry about is his presence in a room with his players while they pray."
School officials passed a policy prohibiting school district representatives from participating in student-initiated prayer. They even ordered Borden to stand rather than take a knee and bow his head while his players recited pre-game prayers. If he disobeyed he would lose his job as coach and tenured teacher.
A federal district court judge ruled that the school district violated Borden's constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, and academic freedom. But common sense didn't last long. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit overturned the decision and ruled that Borden could not take a knee.
This is discouraging. We need as many positive role models in high school athletics as we can get. Coach Borden set a positive example and should be applauded not punished. I'm Kerby Anderson, and that's my point of view.
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