Part 31


July 10, 2020


Let's see if we can finish up with a couple of Supreme Court decisions today -- decisions, that is, that took away more of our First Amendment guarantees to religious liberties in America.

One thing that I think you will find interesting in this Coffee Break is a link to Justice William Rehnquist's argument in the Wallace v. Jaffree case; and I believe that many of you will find his (lengthy, but) complete argument very interesting reading.  Here's the link: http://www.belcherfoundation.org/wallace_v_jaffree_dissent.htm

If the case we mentioned last week -- Allegheny County v. ACLU -- was a departure from cases predicated on lawsuits seeking to remove prayer, the reading of the Bible, funding (or more accurately, refunds for expenses) for religious education and funding for teachers who also happened to provide some religious education, the case of Lee v. Weisman filed with the Court on November 6, 1991 certainly was a return to the educational scene.

In opening the case before the Supreme Court, the case read in part: "Principals of public middle and high schools in Providence, Rhode Island, are permitted to invite members of the clergy to give invocations and benedictions at their schools' graduation ceremonies. Petitioner Lee, a middle school principal, invited a rabbi to offer such prayers at the graduation ceremony for Deborah Weisman's class, gave the Rabbi a pamphlet containing guidelines for the composition of public prayers at civic ceremonies, and advised him that the prayers should be nonsectarian. Shortly before the ceremony, the District Court denied the motion of respondent Weisman, Deborah's father, for a temporary restraining order to prohibit school officials from including the prayers in the ceremony. Deborah and her family attended the ceremony, and the prayers were recited. Subsequently, Weisman sought a permanent injunction barring Lee and other petitioners, various Providence public school officials, from inviting clergy to deliver invocations and benedictions at future graduations. It appears likely that such prayers will be conducted at Deborah's high school graduation."

Terrible, isn't it?  Praying at High School graduation ceremonies!  Why, the very thought of it!

Ohh, Brotherrrr!

Here was a case based almost entirely on the concept that the Weisman family would be offended by the thought of a non-sectarian prayer being offered at a graduation class.

Got a question for you.  Anybody?  Can someone please tell me where it is found in our Constitution that an individual has the right NOT to be offended?  Where did we begin to drift so far away from our Constitution and Law that we now have somehow derived a right to not be offended?  It seems to me, folks, that if conservatives -- never mind Christians -- rose up and said, ENOUGH!, we might actually have a return to reason and sanity.

Oh, and in case you think I'm just making up this concept of "being offended," read the following excerpt from the 5-4 majority decision written by Justice Kennedy.

"The Establishment Clause was inspired by the lesson that in the hands of government what might begin as a tolerant expression of religious views may end in a policy to indoctrinate and coerce. Prayer exercises in elementary and secondary schools carry a particular risk of indirect coercion. Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421; Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203. The school district's supervision and control of a high school graduation ceremony places subtle and indirect public and peer pressure on attending students to stand as a group or maintain respectful silence during the invocation and benediction.

“A reasonable dissenter of high school age could believe that standing or remaining silent signified her own participation in, or approval of, the group exercise, rather than her respect for it. And the State may not place the student dissenter in the dilemma of participating or protesting. Since adolescents are often susceptible to peer pressure, especially in matters of social convention, the State may no more use social pressure to enforce orthodoxy than it may use direct means.

The embarrassment and intrusion of the religious exercise (my accent, RAC) cannot be refuted by arguing that the prayers are of a de minimis character, since that is an affront to the Rabbi and those for whom the prayers have meaning, and since any intrusion was both real and a violation of the objectors' rights."

Once again, we have a court decision by a bare majority (decided June 24, 1992) who have taken upon themselves the right to strip Americans of a God-given right, a historical right, a Constitutional right -- in this case to offer a prayer at a high school graduation ceremony.

Lee v. Weisman, as decided case law, then became the basis for the next court decision in Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe, which was argued before the Supreme Court on March 29, 2000.

Paragraph 1 in Justice Stevens' opinion, writing for the majority, pretty clearly spells out the case, the reliance on Lee v. Weisman in arriving at its findings, and -- once again -- the Court's errant understanding of our nation's historical stance as a Christian nation, and the Constitution's ban in the First Amendment on any legislation restricting both our free speech and our free and independent exercise of worship.

Justice Stevens wrote (in part), "The Court’s analysis is guided by the principles endorsed in Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577. There, in concluding that a prayer delivered by a rabbi at a graduation ceremony violated the Establishment Clause, the Court held that, at a minimum, the Constitution guarantees that government may not coerce anyone to support or participate in religion or its exercise, or otherwise act in a way that establishes a state religion or religious faith, or tends to do so, id., at 587. The District argues unpersuasively that these principles are inapplicable because the policy’s messages are private student speech, not public speech.

“The delivery of a message such as the invocation here–on school property, at school-sponsored events, over the school’s public address system, by a speaker representing the student body, under the supervision of school faculty, and pursuant to a school policy that explicitly and implicitly encourages public prayer–is not properly characterized as “private” speech. Although the District relies heavily on this Court’s cases addressing public forums, e.g., Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819, it is clear that the District’s pregame ceremony is not the type of forum discussed in such cases. The District simply does not evince an intent to open its ceremony to indiscriminate use by the student body generally, see, e.g., Hazelwood School Dist. v. Kuhlmeier, 484 U.S. 260, 270, but, rather, allows only one student, the same student for the entire season, to give the invocation, which is subject to particular regulations that confine the content and topic of the student’s message.

“The majoritarian process implemented by the District guarantees, by definition, that minority candidates will never prevail and that their views will be effectively silenced. See Board of Regents of Univ. of Wis. System v. Southworth, 529 U.S. ___, ___. Moreover, the District has failed to divorce itself from the invocations’ religious content. The policy involves both perceived and actual endorsement of religion, see Lee, 505 U.S., at 590, declaring that the student elections take place because the District “has chosen to permit” student-delivered invocations, that the invocation “shall” be conducted “by the high school student council” “upon advice and direction of the high school principal,” and that it must be consistent with the policy’s goals, which include “solemnizing the event.”

A religious message is the most obvious method of solemnizing an event. Indeed, the only type of message expressly endorsed in the policy is an “invocation,” a term which primarily describes an appeal for divine assistance and, as used in the past at Santa Fe High School, has always entailed a focused religious message. A conclusion that the message is not “private speech” is also established by factors beyond the policy’s text, including the official setting in which the invocation is delivered, see, e.g., Wallace, 472 U.S., at 73, 76, by the policy’s sham secular purposes, see id., at 75, and by its history, which indicates that the District intended to preserve its long-sanctioned practice of prayer before football games, see Lee, 505 U.S., at 596. Pp. 9—18."

Now, I know that the overwhelming majority of you who read these Coffee Breaks are not legal scholars, and probably find some of this to be pretty boring stuff.  Nevertheless, any individual with any kind of reasoning ability whatever will see what the Court has set out to do in these decisions.  They have -- for all intents and purposes -- created case law out of whole cloth, inventing concepts and ideas that are not a part of our nation's foundations, our founding fathers' intents, nor indeed anything encapsulated in any way in our American Constitution.

The fact that they have gotten away with this is a testimony to the passivity of Christians, and the inaction of those who see the wholesale theft of liberties our forefathers bled and died for.

When we allow minority -- and a very tiny minority at that -- decisions to alter the course of our nation, its history, and the character of our freedom and liberty, we allow tyrannical suppression.  As Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ (American Center for Law & Justice) has often stated, our Constitution was established so that America would allow for people of various religious persuasions to worship as they saw fit; but America was first and foremost established as a Christian Nation with Almighty God and the Lord Jesus Christ as the centerpiece and guiding force of our laws and character.

When people come to America, they come seeking the freedoms and liberties we have.  Those freedoms and liberties were bought with the lives of people who gladly died so that their descendants would be able to freely worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and so that the Lord would be honored as the God of this nation.

While we freely welcome others who do not know Jesus Christ, their entrance into America must recognize that they are living in a nation that honors the Lord.  They are not required to honor the Lord, and they may follow any religious belief they so choose.  That does not mean that they cannotand will not be exposed to the truths of Christianity.  When you look back at the stated intentions of those early pioneers, this nation was established specifically for that purpose.

Do I sound irrational or out of touch with our history?  Didn't think so.

We've been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ to "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel (make disciples of all nations), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."  (Matthew 28:19-20)

That's what our founding fathers saw as the prevailing purpose for America's creation and colonization.  While we welcome the stranger and the foreigner into our land, they have no inherent right to take offense, or to be offended by our Christian values, and to sue to prevent being offended.

This, my friends, is where our Courts have gone awry.  Just because a person is an atheist, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu, or a member of any religion does not give them the right to take away from us the freedoms that give us such prosperity as the world covets.  We have no state-sponsored denomination in America, but we do -- as a nation -- (or at least we used to) honor the Lord Jesus Christ above all else as He upon whom the government of America rests.

There was another case that wound its way through the courts just a few years ago.  This time another atheist, Michael Newdow, sought to have the phrase "under God" removed from our Pledge of Allegiance as an unconstitutional endorsement of religion.  The Supreme Court did not rule in Newdow's favor when the case finally reached the Court.

We are keeping today’s Coffee Break a bit shorter than the last few weeks, but I want to shift gears somewhat in looking at some other court cases.

Next week, we'll wrap up this series and take a look at some decisions that should give our opponents pause in their wholesale theft of our Christian liberties.

In case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:30AM Pacific.  That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#.  We are now making these gatherings available on video usingZOOM.  If you wish to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513.  If you miss the live voice-onlycall, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later.  The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.

Blessings on you!




Regner A. Capener

Temple, Texas 76502

Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com


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