Santa Fe School District vs Doe

Scientology, Jediism, and Discordianism. These are all legitimate religions or faith belief systems.

How would you feel if someone over the PA system said a very earnest prayer to Yoda to get the football players pumped for a game? Well there are some restrictions for leading a one way religious worship. For example there is a whole case on how these restrictions came to be. It’s called the Santa Fe Board of Education vs. Jane Doe. It all started when a few Catholic and Mormon advocates finally decided to speak out.

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The District Court permitted respondents (Does) to litigate anonymously to protect them from intimidation or harassment. They went up against the Santa Fe Independent School District for allowing an elected chaplain to hold a Christian Prayer over the public address system before a sporting event. The main controversy evolved around how these religious statements and prayers violated the Establishment Clause. It didn’t matter if these invocations were a Texas community tradition; it was taken to the Supreme Court. During the dispute the school changed its policy.

They decided to hold a new formed election for the student body. They had one yes or no ballot, but the second one was a little different. First ballot: should these “invocations” be heard at the football games? Secondly, elect the student to deliver them. The students elected yes for there being a prayer… so there was. Both the school and the Does appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The reason the school appealed was because it claimed the words “nonsectarian and non- proselytizing” should not be necessary.

The anonymous wanted the sports players found unconstitutional altogether. However, the Rulers in the 6-3 decision, Jacques L. Wiener and Carl E. Stewart, decided that those words are constitutionally necessary components of a policy governing a prayer. But it also was said that these student-led prayers were only acceptable at graduation, not during sporting events.

The District next disputed that its football policy does not bully students to participate in religious observances. Its argument has two parts: first, that there is no banned government force because the pregame messages are the result of student choices; and second, that there is really no coercion at all because attendance at an extracurricular event, unlike a graduation ceremony, is voluntary. The majority opinion was written by Justice Stevens, depended on Lee V. Weisman. It basically said that the prayers weren’t private but public speech. It also simply says that if these prayers are being delivered on school property, at school-sponsored events, over the school’s public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, and under the supervision of school faculty it will be perceived as though obviously the school has given their approval.

A dissenting opinion was written by Chief Justice Rehnquist, joined by Justices Scalia and Thomas. His dissent stated that the majority opinion “bristles with hostility to all things religious in public life.” He also said “[T]he question is not whether the district’s policy may be applied in violation of the Establishment Clause, but whether it inevitably will be.” Along with that, Rehnquist also said that the speech in question would be private, chosen and delivered by the speaker, rather than public, school-sponsored speech. There are many points that my opinion lies with. For example, one of the objections I side with is when the school said the prayers were private speech.

The court easily dismissed that claim as a result of evidence clearly showing this was a hands down public speech. For the means that private dialogue to me is not announced and reviewed. Secondly, when the court said that by actively endorsing the single viewpoint of the majority through election and ensuring the minority views would be effectively silenced. I agree completely. I presume the majority of this school is religious. I mean when a department even has the idea that prayer is OK to glorify like this, then clearly unanimous is going to rule.

The Establishment Clause’s purposes are to remove debate over this kind of issue from governmental supervision or control. But get this, the whole fight back from the school just openly suggested that it also breached on the rights of others, particularly cheerleaders, football players, and band members whose attendance was essential, who might hold different (or no) religious outlooks. At the beginning of my research on this topic, not at all did I think of the kids whose attendance was mandatory until now. All of this was done in the year 2000 so it’s not equal to me saying “Wow, that was so long ago and such different views from now.” On behalf that that is not entirely true. I mean, yes it was over a decade ago, but we still have these same issues today dealing with devoted hypocrites.

My main concern is that we as citizens and rightful human beings can’t share the earth. It sounds obscure, but we seem to be greedy and want our faith to exceed over everyone else’s, for our religion to be perceived as the highest. As we may think that, and practice that in our private homes… but don’t glorify it in an education system. Those things don’t mix, as they’re not supposed to. Overall with all the emotion and strong bull-headedness, I think that my opinion lies with the Court’s decision to rule this invalid and unconstitutional.