En religiøs, amerikansk fodboldtræner bad sammen med spillerne på banen efter kampene – og har nu Højesterets ord for, at det er helt ok.
In the United States, the Supreme Court’s announcements are political – which is why their decisions this week are all over the place
A religious, American football coach prayed with the players on the field after the matches – and now has the Supreme Court’s word that it is perfectly ok.
The Supreme Court has taken Americans hostage in a right-wing religious propaganda stunt that is dividing the population more than it already is.
Here in my state of Washington, a football coach has become known nationally overnight. The story centers around Joseph Kennedy, who was the coach of the local high school team. After each match, he prayed, often with several of the players. Some have later said they felt obliged to participate – it is after all the coach who chooses which players get to play on the field. When the school district learned about the coach praying on public grounds, they asked him to stop, which he refused. That got him fired from his coaching job.
I imagine the Russian tennis coaches at our local club praying to their orthodox God, after the kids have finished their backhand exercises, I see for my inner eye how my son’s Colombian soccer coach extracts a crucifix from his front pocket instead of a yellow card and gathers the kids around him to some Roman Catholic cheer, I see myself standing for the flag and national anthem at my kids swim meets while being forced to see the coaches standing with their arms up in the air, rocking back and forth, praying as if the Holy Spirit were upon them. You get the point: Jews, Muslims, Hindus and all sorts of other faiths and ways of life that force feed our kids and everyone around them with their religious beliefs.
The football coach in my state of Washington, who felt that his right to practice religion had been violated, took his case to court. Today, the Supreme Court ruled. He and everyone else has the right to practice his religion in public.
The verdict falls on the tail of last week’s Supreme Court announcements that have sent shock waves around the country. Among other things, we learned that Americans have a constitutional right to bear arms in New York and all sorts of other places in the public domain. The following day, we learned that women do not have the right to make decisions over their own bodies. When it comes to choice and family planning, the states have the right to decide that a woman cannot choose to have an abortion. Indeed, The United States Supreme Court is busy these days waging a war on values.
But what if coach Joseph Kennedy´s name had been Yousuf Kamal and he instead of praying to a Christian God had rolled out his prayer rug and invited the players to turn their faces towards Mecca with him after every football game? Would the Supreme Court ruling have ben the same?
If there is one thing Europe is learning quite rapidly these days, it is that religion in the public sphere is a dangerous cocktail. Religion can be an integral part of a culture in our activities at school and in the workplace when the population is homogeneous and most belong to the same culture and religion.
That’s not how it works in the United States. Here the population is one great conglomeration of peoples with vastly different cultures and religions. Unlike in Denmark, it is build into the the American fabric that religion and state must be separated – it does not require a doctorate in either religion or political science to see why that constellation is a good idea if you want a society to function as peacefully as possible. The fact that we in the United States more than ever are moving into a value-based legislation rooted in Christian dogmas is far from the notion most Americans have of the powers of the legal system.
So what happens in an environment where the politically appointed Supreme Court justices are more than busy pursuing rulings based in politics? They may think they are doing what they are set to do by Trump, to please his base, when they announce their ultra-right-wing conservative rulings. But one day, it will not be a right-wing Christian who is praying with the children, but a radical Muslim, a Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness. Like Joseph Kennedy they will believe they have the right to practice their religion where ever they are. And they will have the Supreme Court´s ruling to back them up. Maybe it’s a matter of time before young people, and all of us, come to stand as spectators at sporting events, where we are taken hostage in a religious propaganda stunt that can only divide the country more than it already is.
The Supreme Court’s announcements this week point in different directions. We now know, it is more important that an individual has the right to bear arms in the public sphere than the sense of security and safety of the surrounding citizens. Conversely, it is not the individual woman herself who has the right to choose over her own body, it is a decision that elected politicians at the local state level. And in terms of practicing your personal religion and trumpeting it to everyone who is near you, well, then again, it is the individual´s right that stands above people’s sense of discomfort.
So, now this is what I have to look forward to: Being pray to other people’s religious beliefs being forced on me when I just want to see my kids run around and have fun at some sporting event. Land of the free? Well, for those hardcore gun loving, religious fanatics, maybe.