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First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Senior Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, three times a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Jul 23, 2018

After a picture of high school football players praying over their coach landed on the front page of a local newspaper, activists sent the school district an angry letter threatening to sue. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


Whether it’s Tim Tebow, Coach Joe Kennedy, or the thousands of players taking a knee together in prayer after a game, prayer seems to be a popular theme around football. 

At Reitz High School in Evansville, Indiana, the players value prayer rather highly, it would seem.  That became controversial only when a picture of the players gathered in prayer landed on the front page of the local newspaper. 

Activists sent the school district an angry letter, threatening a lawsuit should school officials refuse to take action.  According to them, the coach was violating the law because the picture showed him surrounded by his football players and everyone appeared to be praying.

But, let’s break down that picture a little closer. Yes, the coach was in the center, surrounded by his players, but it clearly shows the players, with bowed heads and hands laid on the coach, led by one player who’s lips are forming the prayers. The players were praying for their coach.

Activists would have this coach stop up his ears and run screaming from the scene of this religious activity.  But, common sense—and the Constitution—would call this hostility to the free exercise of religion by the players. Students have a first amendment right to pray for their coach and the school cannot legally stop their religious expression.

Thankfully, that’s precisely what school officials told the activists.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

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