Football Coaches Push N.J. School Prayer Case at U.S. Supreme Court
A national association of football coaches has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a legal controversy from New Jersey dealing with a coach who has a long history of praying with students.
The American Football Coaches Association represents football coaches at all levels, including many at public high schools. The organization took an interest in the case of Marcus Borden of the East Brunswick School District, who had led prayers and organized other religious activities for students for 25 years.
When school officials told Borden to stop, he sued, asserting that all he really wanted to do was bow his head and "take a knee" as a sign of respect while players engaged in voluntary prayer.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously against Borden earlier this year, declaring that in light of Borden's long history of directing students' devotionals, his actions could reasonably be construed as intended to promote religion.
Americans United represented the school district in the Borden v. School District of the Township of East Brunswick case.
The organization of coaches argues in a brief filed before the Supreme Court that "prayer has become indelibly a part of football."
Asserts the group, "When life gets serious, people pray. When life transitions from one stage to the next-graduation, marriage, parenthood, retirement, death--people pray. There is a reason why persons are not typically moved to pray before playing monopoly, or bridge, or a round of golf with friends, but frequently are moved to pray immediately prior to or after playing a high school or college football game. …