Day: February 11, 2018

That Didn't Take Long: #BlackLivesMatter Goes to the Olympics


When everything is about race, nothing is about race.  The left plays the race card as often as it plays the Nazi or gender card, its hackneyed alternative to any substantive discussion about issues and policy.  It’s much like those pull-string dolls: pull the string of a liberal and hear about race, gender, skin color, or immigration status.  And not much else.

Race became the National Football League theme this year, as a bunch of privileged young athletes, being paid millions of dollars for playing a game, supported by an organization worth $75 billion, found it necessary to take a knee against the National Anthem.  There they were, protesting the very country leaving them on the winning end of such income inequality.

The NFL season, thankfully, is in our rearview mirror for the next six months.  Ahead is the Winter Olympics.  Will the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” be replaced by “Skin color and gender – darker and more confused”?

Rick Moran, on these pages, pointed out how the diversity police have infected the Olympic games, with unnecessary commentary on the skin color and sex orientation of athletes.  Hopefully, the fastest and strongest athletes are at the games, regardless of identity factors, but we shall see if the virtue-signaling NBC commentators can resist the siren song of identity politics – much as the NFL has done.

Even before the opening ceremony, racism has popped up, perhaps as a new sport.  America’s flag-bearer is determined by a vote of sports federations.  The two finalists were speed skater Shani Davis, a five-time Olympian with two gold and two silver medals, and Erin Hamlin, a four-time Olympian with one bronze medal.  The vote was a tie.

Perhaps in hindsight, the U.S. should have had two flag-bearers, sharing the honor of carrying the Stars and Stripes.  But in the tradition of sport, a winner needed to be chosen.  As this wasn’t a sporting competition, no overtime or playoff was needed.  Instead, we had the age-old means of breaking a tie: the coin toss.  Hamlin won.

Simple enough, right?  Not so fast.  Davis is black, and Hamlin is white.  Just like at the Emmy or Grammy awards, identity politics is thrust into the limelight.  And a whiff of racism is in the air.

Davis tweeted below.  He claims that the U.S. Olympic team acted “dishonorably” by tossing a coin to break the tie vote.  And he threw in the #BlackHistoryMonth2018 hashtag, as if the coin toss were somehow racist.

He promises to wait ’til 2022.  Good for him.  Hopefully, he has a successful Olympics in 2018 and makes the 2022 team and is then voted to carry the U.S. flag.  Unfortunately, the flag-bearer vote is not a speed skating event with photo finishes that can determine a winner by a hundredth of a second.  In the rare event where there is a tie, two medals are awarded.  That would have been the wiser choice for the Olympic committee rather than opening a can of worms before the games even began.

Davis boycotted the opening ceremonies.  A spokesman said, “Shani won’t march in the parade.  It was never part of his plans.  He is fully focused on his first race and is concentrating on that.”  Nice try.  If it wasn’t part of his plans, he could have declined the nomination for flag-carrier.

It’s much like the spate of resignations from the FBI and DOJ as the swamp-dwellers suddenly want to “spend more time with the family” ahead of further memo releases and the upcoming OIG report.

Big media were quick to pile on, as identity politics is a favorite topic, not far behind Trump-Russia collusion.  The Chicago Tribune headline: “Coin toss mirrors black experience beyond Olympics.”  And Time: “Shani Davis Was Right to Be Mad about Getting Snubbed as Team USA Flag Bearer.”

And never far behind such a controversy is one of Rush Limbaugh’s “Justice Brothers,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  The other half of the duo, the Rev. Al Sharpton, must be asleep.  Otherwise, he would be out with his bullhorn, leading a protest somewhere.

The first good reverend tweeted out his displeasure, saying such a distinction “should never be determined by a flip of a coin.”  Jackson demanded a “more appropriate system to make such a significant determination.”

Such as?  Rock, paper, scissors?  Re-voting until the desired outcome is achieved, à la Al Franken’s first Senate race in Minnesota?  A “heads I win, tails you lose” coin toss?

How unfortunate for the two involved athletes.  One now feeling guilty and one feeling snubbed.  All over a coin toss.  Not the best way to be at your mental peak when competing against the best athletes in the world.  And easily solved with two flag-bearers, although even that might have raised the ire of some race-hustlers.  Who carried the flag when, and for how long?

This is also an unfortunate consequence of identity politics.  When the media and the left make everything about race, this type of incident is the logical result.  Rather than following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s admonition to judge people by the content of their character (or athletic prowess), not by the color of their skin, we are doing the opposite.  With predictable results.

Let’s hope the rest of the Olympic games focus on sport, not race and gender.  But knowing NBC and the rest of the media, the flag-bearer controversy is likely to be the first of many.

Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

When everything is about race, nothing is about race.  The left plays the race card as often as it plays the Nazi or gender card, its hackneyed alternative to any substantive discussion about issues and policy.  It’s much like those pull-string dolls: pull the string of a liberal and hear about race, gender, skin color, or immigration status.  And not much else.

Race became the National Football League theme this year, as a bunch of privileged young athletes, being paid millions of dollars for playing a game, supported by an organization worth $75 billion, found it necessary to take a knee against the National Anthem.  There they were, protesting the very country leaving them on the winning end of such income inequality.

The NFL season, thankfully, is in our rearview mirror for the next six months.  Ahead is the Winter Olympics.  Will the Olympic motto of “Faster, Higher, Stronger” be replaced by “Skin color and gender – darker and more confused”?

Rick Moran, on these pages, pointed out how the diversity police have infected the Olympic games, with unnecessary commentary on the skin color and sex orientation of athletes.  Hopefully, the fastest and strongest athletes are at the games, regardless of identity factors, but we shall see if the virtue-signaling NBC commentators can resist the siren song of identity politics – much as the NFL has done.

Even before the opening ceremony, racism has popped up, perhaps as a new sport.  America’s flag-bearer is determined by a vote of sports federations.  The two finalists were speed skater Shani Davis, a five-time Olympian with two gold and two silver medals, and Erin Hamlin, a four-time Olympian with one bronze medal.  The vote was a tie.

Perhaps in hindsight, the U.S. should have had two flag-bearers, sharing the honor of carrying the Stars and Stripes.  But in the tradition of sport, a winner needed to be chosen.  As this wasn’t a sporting competition, no overtime or playoff was needed.  Instead, we had the age-old means of breaking a tie: the coin toss.  Hamlin won.

Simple enough, right?  Not so fast.  Davis is black, and Hamlin is white.  Just like at the Emmy or Grammy awards, identity politics is thrust into the limelight.  And a whiff of racism is in the air.

Davis tweeted below.  He claims that the U.S. Olympic team acted “dishonorably” by tossing a coin to break the tie vote.  And he threw in the #BlackHistoryMonth2018 hashtag, as if the coin toss were somehow racist.

He promises to wait ’til 2022.  Good for him.  Hopefully, he has a successful Olympics in 2018 and makes the 2022 team and is then voted to carry the U.S. flag.  Unfortunately, the flag-bearer vote is not a speed skating event with photo finishes that can determine a winner by a hundredth of a second.  In the rare event where there is a tie, two medals are awarded.  That would have been the wiser choice for the Olympic committee rather than opening a can of worms before the games even began.

Davis boycotted the opening ceremonies.  A spokesman said, “Shani won’t march in the parade.  It was never part of his plans.  He is fully focused on his first race and is concentrating on that.”  Nice try.  If it wasn’t part of his plans, he could have declined the nomination for flag-carrier.

It’s much like the spate of resignations from the FBI and DOJ as the swamp-dwellers suddenly want to “spend more time with the family” ahead of further memo releases and the upcoming OIG report.

Big media were quick to pile on, as identity politics is a favorite topic, not far behind Trump-Russia collusion.  The Chicago Tribune headline: “Coin toss mirrors black experience beyond Olympics.”  And Time: “Shani Davis Was Right to Be Mad about Getting Snubbed as Team USA Flag Bearer.”

And never far behind such a controversy is one of Rush Limbaugh’s “Justice Brothers,” the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  The other half of the duo, the Rev. Al Sharpton, must be asleep.  Otherwise, he would be out with his bullhorn, leading a protest somewhere.

The first good reverend tweeted out his displeasure, saying such a distinction “should never be determined by a flip of a coin.”  Jackson demanded a “more appropriate system to make such a significant determination.”

Such as?  Rock, paper, scissors?  Re-voting until the desired outcome is achieved, à la Al Franken’s first Senate race in Minnesota?  A “heads I win, tails you lose” coin toss?

How unfortunate for the two involved athletes.  One now feeling guilty and one feeling snubbed.  All over a coin toss.  Not the best way to be at your mental peak when competing against the best athletes in the world.  And easily solved with two flag-bearers, although even that might have raised the ire of some race-hustlers.  Who carried the flag when, and for how long?

This is also an unfortunate consequence of identity politics.  When the media and the left make everything about race, this type of incident is the logical result.  Rather than following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s admonition to judge people by the content of their character (or athletic prowess), not by the color of their skin, we are doing the opposite.  With predictable results.

Let’s hope the rest of the Olympic games focus on sport, not race and gender.  But knowing NBC and the rest of the media, the flag-bearer controversy is likely to be the first of many.

Brian C. Joondeph, M.D., MPS is a Denver-based physician and writer.  Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.



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Barack the Brick-Thrower


The same Saul Alinsky-style community organizing methods that served Barack Obama well on the Southside of Chicago became indispensable tools in his quest to “fundamentally transform” the whole world from “what it is” into “the world as it should be.”

It was Barack Obama’s friend and former chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, who confessed to NPR that community organizers in Chicago would throw bricks through the window of Democrat campaign headquarters and call a press conference to blame the opposition.  So when Obama accused Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin of colluding to steal an election, the brick that landed on the accuser’s toe was one he planted there himself.

Let’s not forget that although the International Court of Justice deems interfering in a foreign election a violation of international law, and notwithstanding the fact that U.S. regulations ban the use of tax dollars to sway foreign elections, it was brick-throwing Barack, not Donald Trump, who repeatedly defied the law on behalf of a larger global agenda.

In 2006, U.S. senator Obama traveled to Kenya on the taxpayer’s dime at a time that coincidentally corresponded with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leaders strategizing to help Muslim-sympathizer Raila Odinga unseat incumbent President Mwai Kibaki.

Obama delivered the $1 million he had raised for the Luo tribesman’s bid for the presidency and showed up at rallies with Odinga, where he criticized Kibaki and preached “hope and change.”

After Obama’s alleged distant cousin lost by more than 200,000 votes, Kibaki appointed Odinga prime minister in a power-sharing deal, but not before Alinsky-style chaos broke out in the streets.  When it was over, the new prime minister’s sharia-supporters had killed thousands of Kenyans, destroyed 800 Christian churches, and incinerated fifty Christian believers inside an Assemblies of God.

Apparently, tossing blocks of cement through his own window for all these years has caused Obama to forgot that in 2009, the late Hugo Chávez’s friend, Honduran president Manual Zelaya, decided to ignore term limits and keep his presidency open-ended.

In response, the Honduran Supreme Court decided to have Zelaya forcibly removed by the military – a decision Barack Obama referred to as a “coup d’état.”  In an attempt to both punish and persuade the Honduran people to reinstate the deposed Zelaya, a vindictive Obama made permanent the suspension he imposed on non-humanitarian aid.

Obama’s large-scale efforts have not been limited to aiding and abetting Luo tribesmen from Africa and leftist dictators from the Americas.

In February of 2011, Obama decided to oust Moammar Gaddafi from power by instructing the State Department, headed by Hillary Clinton, to interfere in Libya’s political and military affairs.  President Obama spent a billion dollars to fund the operation, which included the U.S. military joining jihadi rebel groups to topple and ultimately kill the Libyan leader. 

As a result, Barack managed to community organize a nation and “fundamentally transform” Libya from a moderate Islamic regime, that was no longer a threat to America, into a safe haven for ISIS and al-Qaeda.

The same Saul Alinsky-style community organizing methods that served Barack Obama well on the Southside of Chicago became indispensable tools in his quest to “fundamentally transform” the whole world from “what it is” into “the world as it should be.”

It was Barack Obama’s friend and former chief campaign strategist, David Axelrod, who confessed to NPR that community organizers in Chicago would throw bricks through the window of Democrat campaign headquarters and call a press conference to blame the opposition.  So when Obama accused Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin of colluding to steal an election, the brick that landed on the accuser’s toe was one he planted there himself.

Let’s not forget that although the International Court of Justice deems interfering in a foreign election a violation of international law, and notwithstanding the fact that U.S. regulations ban the use of tax dollars to sway foreign elections, it was brick-throwing Barack, not Donald Trump, who repeatedly defied the law on behalf of a larger global agenda.

In 2006, U.S. senator Obama traveled to Kenya on the taxpayer’s dime at a time that coincidentally corresponded with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leaders strategizing to help Muslim-sympathizer Raila Odinga unseat incumbent President Mwai Kibaki.

Obama delivered the $1 million he had raised for the Luo tribesman’s bid for the presidency and showed up at rallies with Odinga, where he criticized Kibaki and preached “hope and change.”

After Obama’s alleged distant cousin lost by more than 200,000 votes, Kibaki appointed Odinga prime minister in a power-sharing deal, but not before Alinsky-style chaos broke out in the streets.  When it was over, the new prime minister’s sharia-supporters had killed thousands of Kenyans, destroyed 800 Christian churches, and incinerated fifty Christian believers inside an Assemblies of God.

Apparently, tossing blocks of cement through his own window for all these years has caused Obama to forgot that in 2009, the late Hugo Chávez’s friend, Honduran president Manual Zelaya, decided to ignore term limits and keep his presidency open-ended.

In response, the Honduran Supreme Court decided to have Zelaya forcibly removed by the military – a decision Barack Obama referred to as a “coup d’état.”  In an attempt to both punish and persuade the Honduran people to reinstate the deposed Zelaya, a vindictive Obama made permanent the suspension he imposed on non-humanitarian aid.

Obama’s large-scale efforts have not been limited to aiding and abetting Luo tribesmen from Africa and leftist dictators from the Americas.

In February of 2011, Obama decided to oust Moammar Gaddafi from power by instructing the State Department, headed by Hillary Clinton, to interfere in Libya’s political and military affairs.  President Obama spent a billion dollars to fund the operation, which included the U.S. military joining jihadi rebel groups to topple and ultimately kill the Libyan leader. 

As a result, Barack managed to community organize a nation and “fundamentally transform” Libya from a moderate Islamic regime, that was no longer a threat to America, into a safe haven for ISIS and al-Qaeda.



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Freedom From Religion Atheists Tackle High School Football


The atheist group’s latest target is the athletes at West Branch High School in Beloit, Ohio, who like to gather in prayer at their games to give thanks to that Creator, rather than take a knee in protest of something or other like their less thankful older professional counterparts:

A southern Mahoning County school district is no longer saying a prayer before sporting events.


The school’s superintendent says it all stemmed from a local complaint that got a national organization involved.


West Branch [s]uperintendent Tim Saxton said he received a complaint letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an anti-Christian organization, based out of Madison, Wisconsin.


The letter claimed [that] a prayer performed at a public school sporting event violates the constitution and does not provide for a separation between church and state.

The FFRF is on a crusade to expunge religious expression from the public square, and the group gets the meaning of “separation of church and state,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution, all wrong.  This isn’t the first time the FFRF’s target has been high school football.

The FFRF went ballistic not long ago over the baptism of an on-the-field high school football coach in Villa Rica, Georgia.  Attendance was voluntary, and the students who attended did so on their own time and of their own free will.  When the FFRF saw a video of the ceremony, it fired off a letter of righteous indignation to the Carroll County School superintendent:

“It is illegal for coaches to participate in religious activities with students, including prayer and baptisms,” attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote.  “Nor can coaches allow religious leaders to gain unique access to students during school-sponsored activities.”


They called the full emersion baptisms an “egregious constitutional violation.” …


“I believe we live in a free country,” the pastor said.  “These people that are trying to say you can’t do that – well – they’re taking away freedom.  When did it become illegal to bow your head and pray?  When did it become illegal to say I’m a Christian?”

Indeed.  One would think publicly baptizing a high school football coach, rather than threatening the constitutional foundations of our democracy, were covered under the “free exercise thereof” clause in the First Amendment.  The irony here is that the FFRF on its website touts itself as “the largest free thought association in North America.”  It seems it depends on what you’re thinking about to these thought police.

Expressions of religion in sports are not uncommon, from the baseball pitcher pointing heavenward after a big strikeout to the singing of “God Bless America” in the seventh inning of baseball games after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.  Such expressions of religious liberty guaranteed by the Constitution are not always well received by those seeking to expunge all expressions of religious belief from the public square.

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow believed, as was written in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed, not by government, but by our Creator, with inalienable rights.  Tebow believed that his talents and opportunities, as well as his rights, came from that Creator, and for that he was roundly mocked by his secular critics.

Some 45 million people watched Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow complete that 80-yard touchdown pass play to Demaryius Thomas on the first play from scrimmage in overtime to lead his team over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday’s wild card playoff game.


They also saw him take a knee and give thanks to the God he believes in, an act that’s been dubbed “Tebow-ing.”


The act has been mocked by comedians and pundits and derided by the secularists among us, those who’ve banned prayer from the public schools, and fought Christmas displays on public property, the words “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and even the words “In God We Trust” on our coins.

Again, the FFRF has been leading this charge to impose its values on the rest of us while making that charge against those who think the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty means what it says, even going after expressions of faith from the pulpit itself.

A lawsuit filed on December 27, 2012 by the FFRF concerned sermons considered by the political left political speech by a tax-exempt organization in alleged violation of federal law.  These sermons, which can relate to issues of the day in a religious  context, are considered electioneering by the atheist left.

The FFRF sought enforcement by the IRS of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which states that tax-exempt groups, including churches, are not allowed to endorse political candidates.  But the FFRF stretches that law to interpret churches taking positions from the pulpit in opposition to, say, redefining marriage or the Obamacare mandates on providing contraceptive coverage as support for political candidates, albeit unnamed, who might share that opposition.  The FFRF asked the IRS to monitor and regulate religious speech.

Investor’s Business Daily, in a biting July 31, 2014 editorial, ripped apart the FFRF’s faulty logic:

But is the Catholic Church “politicking” when it proclaims its “Fortnight for Freedom” dedicated to opposing Obama[c]are’s contraceptive mandate and the government’s forcing schools and charities it considers an extension of its faith to include it in insurance coverage or face crippling fines?


Are Protestant and evangelical churches “politicking” when they participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this year on Oct. 5 to encourage congregations to “vote their faith,” which they consider to be an exercise of free speech and freedom of religion?


The FFRF says that such events at “rogue churches” have “become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity.”  But doesn’t the Constitution say that Congress can make no such laws?

The Constitution, in fact, guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from it.  Thomas Jefferson, source for the “separation of church and state” phrase often invoked by liberals, but which appears nowhere in the Constitution, also said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against any form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

That should apply to those who speak their mind from the pulpit or on a high school football field.

As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized, those opposed to the free expression of religion and free speech get the establishment clause and church and state thing all wrong:

The phrase “separation of church and state” in fact appears nowhere in the Constitution but in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to a group of Danbury Baptists assuring them that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing a national church, such as the Church of England.


Of course, Jefferson also said in a letter written to his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush dated Sept. 23, 1800, the words that are carved into the Jefferson Memorial:


“I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Imposing political correctness upon the Tim Tebows of the world  is just that kind of tyranny.  Liberals ignore the history of this nation, in which Thomas Jefferson also wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our unalienable rights come from our Creator, not government or liberal busybodies.  He feared what the British Crown had tried to do: impose a state church on all the American people.  The fact is that in Jefferson’s time, the state and the church were inextricably linked.

The Founding Fathers did fear the possible establishment of a national church like the Church of England, and to prevent it, they wrote the First Amendment to say “Congress” shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion, meaning any particular religion.  But it says nothing about the states and also says that Congress shall make no laws restricting the free exercise thereof.

Anyone who wants to know what the Founding Fathers intended with their words should analyze their actions. As Yale professor Jon Butler writes:

[T]he 1780 Massachusetts constitution authorized ‘towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies politic to levy taxes ‘for the institution of public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.’ …


Connecticut and New Hampshire had similar laws.  Virginia, on the other hand, moved rapidly after the Revolutionary War to disestablish the Anglican church and separate the state from formal religious institutions.  Curiously, no framer of the Constitution ever declared that Massachusetts, with its state-supported religious education, or Virginia, with its official secularism, were guilty of violating the 1st Amendment or any other fundamental constitutional principle.

The Constitution mandates government’s neutrality to religion, but its alleged desire to avoid any endorsement of religion has mutated into an unmistakable hostility.  Perhaps the most egregious example occurred in April 1995, when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed and attorneys for the Clinton administration were ready to deny churches the same disaster assistance that every other building with collateral damage received because of the alleged separation of church and state.  It took special congressional action to prevent this absurdity.  I don’t think this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind.

We have drifted a long way from the Founding Fathers’ clear intent about the relationship between the free exercise of religion and government.  People are no longer free to apply their religious beliefs to their businesses, as the vendetta against Hobby Lobby demonstrates.  The Obama administration went to court to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraceptive coverage to their workers.  Bakers were forced to bake cakes for imitations of weddings between members of the same sex, in violation of their religious beliefs. 

As the late Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, former head of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, once observed, President Obama’s idea of religious liberty, an idea shared by many liberals, differs little from Josef Stalin’s:

Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union[.] … You could go to church, if you could find one.  The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship – no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith.  We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society.

Indeed, we did.  Our country was founded by those seeking freedom of religion and the free speech and free exercise that comes with it.  Forgive those who think otherwise, for they know not what they do.   

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.

In the film A League of Their Own, the manager, played by Tom Hanks, advises a tearful player on a women’s baseball team, “There’s no crying in baseball.”  According to the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a group of permanently offended atheists that are also in a league of their own, there is no praying in football, not to mention “Hail Mary” passes to win the big game.  Tim Tebow, call your office.

In the ongoing struggle for religious liberty, constitutional conservatives like to say the Constitution was written by those fleeing from religious persecution and that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion and not freedom from it.  The FFRF begs to differ, insisting in repeated legal actions against Christians that the Creator the Declaration of Independence says endowed us with our unalienable rights is not to be given thanks in the public square.

The atheist group’s latest target is the athletes at West Branch High School in Beloit, Ohio, who like to gather in prayer at their games to give thanks to that Creator, rather than take a knee in protest of something or other like their less thankful older professional counterparts:

A southern Mahoning County school district is no longer saying a prayer before sporting events.


The school’s superintendent says it all stemmed from a local complaint that got a national organization involved.


West Branch [s]uperintendent Tim Saxton said he received a complaint letter from The Freedom From Religion Foundation, an anti-Christian organization, based out of Madison, Wisconsin.


The letter claimed [that] a prayer performed at a public school sporting event violates the constitution and does not provide for a separation between church and state.

The FFRF is on a crusade to expunge religious expression from the public square, and the group gets the meaning of “separation of church and state,” a phrase that appears nowhere in the Constitution, all wrong.  This isn’t the first time the FFRF’s target has been high school football.

The FFRF went ballistic not long ago over the baptism of an on-the-field high school football coach in Villa Rica, Georgia.  Attendance was voluntary, and the students who attended did so on their own time and of their own free will.  When the FFRF saw a video of the ceremony, it fired off a letter of righteous indignation to the Carroll County School superintendent:

“It is illegal for coaches to participate in religious activities with students, including prayer and baptisms,” attorney Elizabeth Cavell wrote.  “Nor can coaches allow religious leaders to gain unique access to students during school-sponsored activities.”


They called the full emersion baptisms an “egregious constitutional violation.” …


“I believe we live in a free country,” the pastor said.  “These people that are trying to say you can’t do that – well – they’re taking away freedom.  When did it become illegal to bow your head and pray?  When did it become illegal to say I’m a Christian?”

Indeed.  One would think publicly baptizing a high school football coach, rather than threatening the constitutional foundations of our democracy, were covered under the “free exercise thereof” clause in the First Amendment.  The irony here is that the FFRF on its website touts itself as “the largest free thought association in North America.”  It seems it depends on what you’re thinking about to these thought police.

Expressions of religion in sports are not uncommon, from the baseball pitcher pointing heavenward after a big strikeout to the singing of “God Bless America” in the seventh inning of baseball games after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.  Such expressions of religious liberty guaranteed by the Constitution are not always well received by those seeking to expunge all expressions of religious belief from the public square.

NFL quarterback Tim Tebow believed, as was written in the Declaration of Independence, that we are endowed, not by government, but by our Creator, with inalienable rights.  Tebow believed that his talents and opportunities, as well as his rights, came from that Creator, and for that he was roundly mocked by his secular critics.

Some 45 million people watched Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow complete that 80-yard touchdown pass play to Demaryius Thomas on the first play from scrimmage in overtime to lead his team over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday’s wild card playoff game.


They also saw him take a knee and give thanks to the God he believes in, an act that’s been dubbed “Tebow-ing.”


The act has been mocked by comedians and pundits and derided by the secularists among us, those who’ve banned prayer from the public schools, and fought Christmas displays on public property, the words “One Nation Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance and even the words “In God We Trust” on our coins.

Again, the FFRF has been leading this charge to impose its values on the rest of us while making that charge against those who think the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty means what it says, even going after expressions of faith from the pulpit itself.

A lawsuit filed on December 27, 2012 by the FFRF concerned sermons considered by the political left political speech by a tax-exempt organization in alleged violation of federal law.  These sermons, which can relate to issues of the day in a religious  context, are considered electioneering by the atheist left.

The FFRF sought enforcement by the IRS of the 1954 Johnson Amendment, which states that tax-exempt groups, including churches, are not allowed to endorse political candidates.  But the FFRF stretches that law to interpret churches taking positions from the pulpit in opposition to, say, redefining marriage or the Obamacare mandates on providing contraceptive coverage as support for political candidates, albeit unnamed, who might share that opposition.  The FFRF asked the IRS to monitor and regulate religious speech.

Investor’s Business Daily, in a biting July 31, 2014 editorial, ripped apart the FFRF’s faulty logic:

But is the Catholic Church “politicking” when it proclaims its “Fortnight for Freedom” dedicated to opposing Obama[c]are’s contraceptive mandate and the government’s forcing schools and charities it considers an extension of its faith to include it in insurance coverage or face crippling fines?


Are Protestant and evangelical churches “politicking” when they participate in “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” this year on Oct. 5 to encourage congregations to “vote their faith,” which they consider to be an exercise of free speech and freedom of religion?


The FFRF says that such events at “rogue churches” have “become an annual occasion for churches to violate the law with impunity.”  But doesn’t the Constitution say that Congress can make no such laws?

The Constitution, in fact, guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from it.  Thomas Jefferson, source for the “separation of church and state” phrase often invoked by liberals, but which appears nowhere in the Constitution, also said, “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against any form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

That should apply to those who speak their mind from the pulpit or on a high school football field.

As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized, those opposed to the free expression of religion and free speech get the establishment clause and church and state thing all wrong:

The phrase “separation of church and state” in fact appears nowhere in the Constitution but in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to a group of Danbury Baptists assuring them that the First Amendment prohibited Congress from establishing a national church, such as the Church of England.


Of course, Jefferson also said in a letter written to his friend Dr. Benjamin Rush dated Sept. 23, 1800, the words that are carved into the Jefferson Memorial:


“I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

Imposing political correctness upon the Tim Tebows of the world  is just that kind of tyranny.  Liberals ignore the history of this nation, in which Thomas Jefferson also wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our unalienable rights come from our Creator, not government or liberal busybodies.  He feared what the British Crown had tried to do: impose a state church on all the American people.  The fact is that in Jefferson’s time, the state and the church were inextricably linked.

The Founding Fathers did fear the possible establishment of a national church like the Church of England, and to prevent it, they wrote the First Amendment to say “Congress” shall make no laws regarding the establishment of religion, meaning any particular religion.  But it says nothing about the states and also says that Congress shall make no laws restricting the free exercise thereof.

Anyone who wants to know what the Founding Fathers intended with their words should analyze their actions. As Yale professor Jon Butler writes:

[T]he 1780 Massachusetts constitution authorized ‘towns, parishes, precincts and other bodies politic to levy taxes ‘for the institution of public worship of God, and for the support and maintenance of public Protestant teachers of piety, religion and morality.’ …


Connecticut and New Hampshire had similar laws.  Virginia, on the other hand, moved rapidly after the Revolutionary War to disestablish the Anglican church and separate the state from formal religious institutions.  Curiously, no framer of the Constitution ever declared that Massachusetts, with its state-supported religious education, or Virginia, with its official secularism, were guilty of violating the 1st Amendment or any other fundamental constitutional principle.

The Constitution mandates government’s neutrality to religion, but its alleged desire to avoid any endorsement of religion has mutated into an unmistakable hostility.  Perhaps the most egregious example occurred in April 1995, when the Murrah Federal Building was bombed and attorneys for the Clinton administration were ready to deny churches the same disaster assistance that every other building with collateral damage received because of the alleged separation of church and state.  It took special congressional action to prevent this absurdity.  I don’t think this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind.

We have drifted a long way from the Founding Fathers’ clear intent about the relationship between the free exercise of religion and government.  People are no longer free to apply their religious beliefs to their businesses, as the vendetta against Hobby Lobby demonstrates.  The Obama administration went to court to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to provide contraceptive coverage to their workers.  Bakers were forced to bake cakes for imitations of weddings between members of the same sex, in violation of their religious beliefs. 

As the late Francis Cardinal George of Chicago, former head of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops, once observed, President Obama’s idea of religious liberty, an idea shared by many liberals, differs little from Josef Stalin’s:

Freedom of worship was guaranteed in the Constitution of the former Soviet Union[.] … You could go to church, if you could find one.  The church, however, could do nothing except conduct religious rites in places of worship – no schools, religious publications, health care institutions, organized charity, ministry for justice and works of mercy that flow naturally from a living faith.  We fought a long Cold War to defeat that vision of society.

Indeed, we did.  Our country was founded by those seeking freedom of religion and the free speech and free exercise that comes with it.  Forgive those who think otherwise, for they know not what they do.   

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.



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