Santa Fe Decision

June 26, 2000

Quite a bit has been written about the Supreme Court's decision in the latest prayer case known as Santa Fe vs. Doe. Frankly, I expected the court to rule against the school district for allowing a prayer to be offered before a football game. But I wasn't prepared for the level of hostility the court showed toward any public religious expression.

Many expected that the court would provide some guidelines for a "workable" speech and prayer policy. But apparently the court ruled against any student-led, student-initiated action whether before football games or at graduation.

But I'm not the only one surprised and concerned. Consider these words from Chief Justice William Rehnquist in his dissent also signed by Justices Scalia and Thomas:

"The Court distorts existing precedent to conclude that the school district's student-message program is invalid on its face under the Establishment Clause. But even more disturbing than its holding is the tone of the Court's opinion: it bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life."

Neither the holding nor the tone of the opinion is faithful to the meaning of the Establishment Clause, when it is recalled that George Washington himself, at the request of the very Congress which passed the Bill of Rights, proclaimed a day of "public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God."

As we approach our nation's annual celebration of independence on the fourth of July, we would be wise to remember that pausing for prayer was not as controversial as it is today. And I doubt that any of the framers of the Constitution would find prayer an unconstitutional establishment of religion. Unfortunately, our current Supreme Court does.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.