Home > Uncategorized > Betsy DeVos and the President Support First Amendment Rights to Take a Knee to Pray… But Taking a Knee to Protest?

Betsy DeVos and the President Support First Amendment Rights to Take a Knee to Pray… But Taking a Knee to Protest?

January 19, 2020

USA Today recently published an op ed piece by Betsy DeVos advocating the need to protect the First Amendment rights of children to pray in school. I will leave it to the ACLU and other legal minds more up to date on court cases than I am to refute point for point all the misinformation incorporated in her reasoning, but there are two points that jumped out immediately from reading the piece. First was this, from a list of injustices perpetrated on those seeking to pray in public schools:

In Washington state, longtime high school football coach Joe Kennedy would wait until everyone had cleared the gridiron, take a knee and silently thank God for the opportunity to compete. Coach Kennedy prayed after every game — win or lose — until the school district threw a flag on the praying. Coach Kennedy was suspended and then effectively terminated.

I wish that Ms. DeVos love of the first amendment transferred to those student athletes who knelt symbolically to protest the treatment their forebears’ received as slaves and the continuing discrimination they are receiving when confronted by police.

She also offered these examples of issues the new “guidance” from USDOE will address:

Our new guidance explains that the law requires states to report which of their schools failed to certify that they do not have any policy that denies anyone the right to pray. Students may, for instance, read the Bible during homeroom. They may give thanks to God before lunch or a snack. They can pray a decade or two of the rosary at recess. They can be excused from class to fulfill prayer obligations, such as during Ramadan. Students may organize faith-based clubs as they see fit. Students may invite a local rabbi to preach at an assembly.Teachers can pray in the lounge during a break. And students most certainly may express their faith in homework or other assignments free from discrimination based on religion.

I am confident that schools will also allow Muslims to wear the garb they wish and that Festivus, the High Holy Days of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the annual atheist days will be recognized.. or at the very least representatives from these groups will be allowed to “preach at an assembly” if invited by students.

From all evidence, in “clarifying” the rights of children to pray in school Betsy DeVos is acting on her religious convictions. Her boss President Trump, on the other hand, is clearly acting on his political convictions as they exist at this point in time, convictions that might change should evangelicals decide he is no longer the candidate they wish to support in the future. in the meantime, students across the country are pawns in religious and political conflicts.

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