Thanks to school officials who respect the 1st Amendment (and some very clever Satanists), a persecuted Christian football coach has been put on paid leave from his public high school job. But that doesn't prevent him from getting more Fox validation from alleged "fair & balanced" "news" anchor Martha MacCallum.
On this morning's alleged "news" show, America's Newsroom, MacCallum reported that, praise Jesus and Roger Ailes, Kennedy is now being supported by presidential candidates. MacCallum giggled as she said that these politicians "have his back." She read supportive tweets, from Dr. Ben Carson and Donald Trump.
"Fair & balanced" (Not) "news" (Not) anchor MacCallum set up the Christian right premise that this is no big deal because tradition: "You've been doing this for eight years, explain... what was your practice." MacCallum said "right" as Kennedy talked about how he would "just take a [50 yardline] knee," in thanks, after the game. He spoke of how kids just "showed up" to be part of his worship. As she did in her last interview with Kennedy, in asking if Kennedy ever asked the students to join him, she suggested that this is no big deal because it's voluntary. When he said that he didn't ask kids to participate, MacCallum followed up with "all voluntary."
In advancing the meme that poor coach is being persecuted, she continued to frame the "tradition" narrative: "This goes on for eight years and then suddenly, what." Kennedy spoke about how a school administrator saw him pray and told the principal how awesome this was. And that's when the school took action over concern for compliance with the law. MacCallum, NOT A LAWYER, continued to pimp the voluntary aspect of the prayer: "Legally, as far as I understand it, you have to be coercing somebody to participate in it for it to be illegal." (Hey Martha, you might want to check out Santa Fe School District v. Jane Doe which says that public prayer, during a public school football game, is unconstitutional. Being voluntary has nothing to do with it!)
Kennedy's attorney, Kelly Shackleford (who has said that gay people are trying to destroy America) from the right wing Liberty Institute, agreed and stressed that the prayer is - wait for it - voluntary. After he said that Kennedy could be fired for wearing a cross, MacCallum provided even more persecution validation: "Do they have it out for you...it seems innocent enough." She mused that if a Muslim coach wanted to publicly pray or a Jewish coach wanted to wear a yarmulke, "nobody would have a hard time with it?" (Muslim public school prayer? I think Fox might have a problem...!!!)
Kennedy whined about how he doesn't "know where this is coming from" (he and Martha could check here) and asserted that "everybody likes what I'm doing" (no, actually). Perhaps in an effort to generate the usual Fox Christian threats and harassment, MacCallum asked "who is behind this push. Shackleford didn't identify anybody; but he whined about his maltreatment at the hands of the school administration. He claimed that the coach is "praying on his own time." Nobody mentioned that the school states that it isn't his own time until the students have changed out of their uniforms and left the locker room.
MacCallum suggested that Kennedy go to the 50 yard line and silently pray because nobody will know he's doing it. Shackleford said Kennedy should get his job back that "the whole country is behind the coach." More validation with MacCallum's suggestion that the school wasn't educating students because "they're spending a lot time going after you."
Fox "news" - "fair & balanced" as always.
But hey — then that would mean they couldn’t be victims, so I guess that won’t be happening any time soon. The Baby Jebus must be crying in his diaper about now…
HOWEVER. The football field—even after the game is over—is still considered SCHOOL TIME for the players and the coach has NO right AS A SCHOOL OFFICIAL to engage in “post-game prayer time.” If the PLAYERS choose to indulge in a post-game prayer event, then they are allowed to under the First Amendment. BUT THE COACH CANNOT BE THERE, EXCEPT TO SUPERVISE. HE CANNOT PARTICIPATE, MUCH LESS LEAD THE SESSION.
(Priscilla, the case you listed—and the link isn’t working at this time—may NOT apply here. That case dealt with prayer DURING the football games, though generally before the start of the game itself; that’s still pretty much a part OF the football game in terms of the gametime. Especially with high school games, the “starting” time for the game is up to 30 minutes before the actual kick-off so that fans can get settled in and relatively comfortable before the players take the field. But this case involves, at least as I understand the case, players on an empty field after the game is over. I still don’t support the practice, for reasons listed above, but I think there’s enough difference between this situation and the Santa Fe case that SCOTUS could likely view this as, effectively, little different from a school prayer group. Unless I missed a pretty major case, SCOTUS has ruled that students may still engage in student-led, student-organized prayer groups and clubs—provided the school doesn’t discriminate against other groups and clubs which may not enjoy certain levels of “community” or school administration approval, like Gay-Straight Alliances or Young Communists or Young Democrats.)
Gay or straight,
Love is great!