Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Despite all of the cultural pressure from the Left, the country is moving center-right

FARRELL, Pennsylvania— TWelve years ago, a member of the community in Mercer County sent an “alert” to the Freedom From Religion Foundation that the high school football coach here had led the team in a short prayer before each game.

Within days, the FFRF’s staff attorney Rebecca Markert wrote a letter to the Farrell Area School District’s superintendent pointing out that “the federal courts have struck down prayer in public schools because it constitutes a government endorsement of religion, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendments.”

In response, the superintendent caved, and the high school principal and athletic director, along with the rest of the school staff including the coach, were sent a memo outlining what were and were not acceptable behaviors regarding separation of state and church.

And it wasn’t just here. FFRF alerts — try a simple click on its website — have been used by activists anonymously to report a school that is allowing silent prayer before high school football games for the past two decades, thus changing the culture and traditions in schools across the country.

In short, it wasn’t just here. It was everywhere.

Seven years ago, a team prayer was reported by atheist activist Hemant Mehta, who did not attend the game but was emailed a photo of the football players kneeling and appearing to be praying with the coach. The “controversy” led Naperville Community Unit School District 203 to ban such activities before, during, or after any sporting event.

And just this past spring, a parent in Kirtland, Ohio, located 25 miles east of Cleveland and whose motto is “The City of Faith and Beauty,” sent a complaint to FFRF that Kirtland High School promoted religion during football games by holding silent pregame and postgame prayers.

The list goes on and on. For decades all across the country, activists pushing freedom from religion have contributed to reshaping the culture and traditions at public forums. They also have been very successful at eliminating moments of silence or prayer at local municipal meetings, with varying degrees of backlash from the communities. But none of those communities took it as far as the Supreme Court.

That is, until Seattle-area assistant football coach Joe Kennedy, who was suspended from his job and then fired for praying before and after his high school football games, did just that. Kennedy said at the time that he was teaching his players that “if you believe in something, you stand up.”

Kennedy did stand up. And while it took seven long years, he won his case in an already-famous 6-3 ruling this past week.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the majority opinion that the coach’s private prayer at the 50-yard line was protected by the First Amendment because it was done at a time when “school employees were free to speak with a friend, call for a reservation at a restaurant, check email, or attend to other personal matters.”

The majority ruling makes it very clear that you don’t give up your private religious life and the ability to express it in your workplace simply because you are a public employee.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that in Naperville, officials have already said they plan to review the court decision so they can decide if the rules need to be changed to allow prayer before a game, or after, to return to their schools.

It will always be remarkably interesting to watch the reaction of political analysts, Democrats, the press, and even some Republicans as they observe the impact of one of the least religious presidents ever has created in this religious liberty movement on the court.

If you take all the body of work on religious liberty cases together, it is a massive, massive change that moves the country ever so slowly back to its center-right equilibrium after being dragged so hard toward the left by our cultural curators for the past decade.

To this day, the press, Democrats, and some Republicans have never understood the conservative populist coalition that formed before Donald Trump ever ran for office. He was always the result of it, never the cause. Because they don’t understand that nuance, because they don’t understand that those voters and many new ones, including a growing number of Hispanics, will still be there when Trump is gone, they’ll still be shocked on Election Day.

Had any of the cultural curators really paid attention to the down-ballot races in 2020 and not just solely on the big-ticket races, they would have seen, despite all of the cultural pressure placed on voters in the news, online, through corporate bullying, and with the “Hate has no place here” signs in their neighborhoods, that the voters were moving rightward.

What has happened in this country in the last decade or so was that liberalism went from “Let’s all coexist” to “If you don’t agree with us, you’re a bigot.”

And that shift told a lot of evangelical voters that they had to begin voting on religious liberty — even though some components of liberalism were attractive to them. That constant beating of the bigot drum on everything, whether it was education or crime or the border, brought along suburban voters, blue-collar voters, women, and Hispanics to join with evangelicals to form this coalition.

For decades, religious liberty has been under pressure from an expanding state and an often spiteful culture. Even those with little religiosity at all within this coalition recognize the negative impact that has on all of us because if one liberty secured by the Bill of Rights is under pressure, they all are.

Last year in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, rival schools Cedar Cliff and Cocalico struggled through a game that wasn’t decided until the final 48 seconds. The intensity was through the roof, yet when the game ended, the two teams met in the end zone and prayed together.

I suspect there will be a lot of teams this fall who will go back to that tradition — a tradition that has been falling for decades because of cultural pressure from activists. Holding on to that tradition is a nuance a pollster will never pick up in a survey, but it is one of many nuances missed by elites who don’t understand what moves people politically. That’s why those elites so often find themselves woefully surprised.

Comments are closed.