A small Wisconsin-based organization of atheists sent a letter to Auburn University this month demanding that it abolish the football team’s chaplaincy position, and threatening a lawsuit if the school doesn’t.
“Chaplains are given access to the team as a means for coaches to impose religion, usually Christianity, on their players,” reads the letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Under the circumstances, the chaplain’s actions are attributable to the university and those actions are unconstitutional.”
Auburn quickly released a brief statement explaining that having a team chaplain is quite normal and that he “isn’t an Auburn employee, and participation in activities he leads are voluntary.”
Rather than going on the defensive, the board of trustees should show these anti-religious zealots what happens when you grab an Auburn tiger by its tail. They should fire off their own letter threatening the group’s officers with lawsuits if they don’t cease their campaign of harassment and intimidation that’s clearly aimed at “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion on campus.
Americans are tired of being bullied by a handful of leftists, whose impact on our society far exceeds their size, any actual grievance, or any legal leg they have to stand upon. Instead of our public officials folding like cheap suits whenever these nuts mail a letter, we should start pushing back and protecting our rights.
As the old football saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Besides, we’re on solid constitutional ground, and it’s about time we started acting like we were.
Our opponents are fond of quoting only a portion of the First Amendment that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” They fail to see that its original intent was to forbid something like the Church of England, whose ecclesiastical laws were interwoven with those of the state. It was not meant to prohibit religion altogether. Still, they never seem to complete the amendment’s full sentence, which includes “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”
They’re also fond of quoting the “wall of separation between church and state,” which isn’t actually in the constitution. It’s a brief line from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson explaining why he didn’t issue religiously themed White House proclamations like his predecessors. The letter was written in 1802, which was 11-years after the Bill of Rights was ratified protecting our religious liberties. It’s also important to note that two days after writing that letter, Jefferson attended a church service in the House of Representatives. So clearly we have misinterpreted the intended results of the point Jefferson was making, even if we were to grant his letter equal billing with the constitution, which we cannot.
“The constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying,” said President Ronald Reagan during one of his weekly radio addresses in 1982. “Its declared purposed was to protect their freedom to pray.”
So then, have we been effectively using the constitution to protect our religious freedoms, and those of the generations who’ll inherit whatever rights we manage to leave behind? In my opinion, no, we haven’t.
Far too often, we run away scared, fearing lawsuits and professional or personal repercussions. So we stop gathering at convenient locations at our work places. We stop discussing our faith at the water cooler. Far from wearing our religion on our sleeves, we’re nearly forced to hide it in a closet. And now they want to run the chaplain out of the lives of young student athletes who, in some cases, desperately need spiritual guidance during a very challenging time of their lives.
These letters and lawsuits have had a real and damaging “chilling effect” on one’s ability to freely exercise their religious beliefs, especially on college campuses.
So are we going to do something about it?
The Freedom From Religion Foundation should be sued, and if any liberal professors on the Plains join in their effort, they should be sued, too.
Our nation’s young people deserve to be protected from these bullies, who simply want to replace the student’s faith with their own. It’s time we took the ball back, and started making a few plays of our own.
Auburn University is a great place to start.
(First posted on Al.com)