You may have noticed yesterday that American United’s attorneys succeeded in their efforts to stop a public school in Texas from mandating official prayers as part of graduation.
U.S. District Judge Samuel Frederick Biery Jr. ordered Medina Valley High School to remove prayer from the program and said that students must be told that they may not attempt to lead their peers in prayer or other religious activities during the commencement. Americans United filed Schultz v. Medina Valley Independent School District last week on behalf of a local family whose son was set to graduate this weekend.
Of course, the decision has angered some people in Castroville, Texas – and around the country – who do not understand the Constitution or the implications of school-sponsored religious activities.
Fox News Channel is among those stirring the debate over the judge’s decision and, not surprisingly, is failing to educate viewers about the facts and what the law actually says.
Media Matters pointed this out on its blog today. The group shared a link to this morning’s episode of “Fox & Friends,” where host Gretchen Carlson interviewed a Medina Valley graduating senior and his parents.
After stating that the court decision has “infuriated parents and students,” the reporter asked the student and his parents how they felt about yesterday’s ruling.
“This is something you’ve been looking forward to…and now a court is saying you cannot have prayer because of one person,” she said, proceeding to ask the student for his reaction.
The entire interview was focused on how majority of the students wanted the prayer and that now one student has ruined it for all the rest.
The father of the student claimed many times that the prayer is “tradition” and that’s reason enough to include it.
“There is a big Catholic community there,” he said. “So I think it should be done.”
The student’s mother agreed, stating “the majority should be able to say their prayers at whatever function they are at.”
Of course, host Carlson conveniently failed to communicate that this decision only stops official school-sponsored prayer. She also failed to remind viewers that there is a reason why it’s not up to the students or people in the community to decide whether there is an official prayer. When it comes to the Constitution, the majority cannot take away the civil rights of the minority.
Some parents and students may not realize this, and that is unfortunate. But Fox News shouldn’t continue to perpetuate misunderstanding and misinformation about the Constitution.
Sadly, it seems those running Fox News Channel just can’t help themselves. Any time there is a church-state controversy in the news, they like to frame it as a war on Christians in America and reiterate that the majority should rule.
That’s simply not what this is about. It’s about making sure that every student feels welcomed and accepted by his or her school. In order to achieve that, the courts, including the Supreme Court, have declared that public schools can’t choose religion over non-religion or favor any particular faith.
It’s pretty simple, and it’s the only fair and constitutional way for school officials to behave.