A federal judge has fined a Mississippi school district $7,500 for doing what Congress does every day: open a session with a prayer offered by a member of the clergy.
In the case at hand, a Methodist minister offered an opening prayer at a purely voluntary event designed to honor students for outstanding performance on the ACT college test. For exercising the classic American value of religious freedom, the school had been treated by a rogue judge as if it were engaging in criminal behavior.
It is staggeringly absurd and schizoid that a school can be found in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution for doing exactly the same thing Congress does. It’s a sign of just how far judicial activists have taken us from our moorings as a Judeo-Christian nation.
The truth is that it is constitutionally and historically impossible for a school to violate the First Amendment. Why? Easy. Because a school is not Congress.
As the very first word in the First Amendment makes clear, the First Amendment applies to Congress and Congress alone. “Congress shall make no law…” The only entity that is restrained by the Founders’ Constitution is Congress. Since Congress is the only entity restrained by the First Amendment, Congress is the only entity that can violate it.
In fact, it is the federal judge in this case, Carlton Reeves, who has actually violated the First Amendment. This is because the First Amendment not only ties the hands of Congress, but by extension it ties the hands of the entire federal government.
The First Amendment flatly prohibits the central government from “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. But that’s exactly what Judge Reeves has done.
The administrators and students of the Rankin school district were peacefully minding their own business and engaging in the free exercise of religion when this black-robed tyrant told them they couldn’t. But the Constitution does not allow him to do that. The federal government, including the judiciary, is flatly and plainly forbidden to interfere with the exercise of religious liberty anywhere in the United States.
The matter of school prayer and Bible use in schools is, according to the Founders’ Constitution, exclusively a matter for state and local authorities. The governing document in this case should be the Mississippi state constitution, which quite emphatically guarantees freedom of religious expression and the use of the Bible in public schools.
“No religious test as a qualification for office shall be required; and no preference shall be given by law to any religious sect or mode of worship; but the free enjoyment of all religious sentiments and the different modes of worship shall be held sacred. The rights hereby secured shall not be construed to justify acts of licentiousness injurious to morals or dangerous to the peace and safety of the state, or to exclude the Holy Bible from use in any public school of this state.
Bottom line: if anybody should be fined and punished here, it’s Judge Reeves. He’s the one who has been derelict in his duty and has failed to fulfill his sacred oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
And he has compounded his judicial malfeasance by prohibiting the voluntary distribution of Bibles in the district. He is a one-man wrecking crew, swinging his gavel like a sledgehammer and pulverizing the First Amendment in the process.
If we were still using the Constitution the Founders gave us, this case would have been thrown out of federal court the day it was presented, on grounds that a federal judge has no jurisdiction over what a local school district does, and that he is further prohibited, as a representative of the federal government, from interfering with anyone’s free exercise of religion anywhere in the United States. Case closed.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)